Rise of the Citizen Press: The Enquirer puts one more step in the grave–part 1.

It was wonderful to see Peter Bronson, the former award-winning Cincinnati Enquirer editorial columnist, speak at a recent event because he represents a day when the newspaper was a trusted friend in a confusing twisted world. I used to love Peter’s editorial columns as thousands of others did, and upon his exit from The Enquirer the paper has taken a noticeable downward turn as his influence has faded and a new regime of political boot lickers and levy whores have taken his place, bringing down the quality of the paper to a slow dying entity.

The Enquirer as it is today is like looking at a patient in a hospice center. Everyone knows death is immanent; it is just a matter of time. A newspaper that used to set the pace and trend of Cincinnati now is being replaced by citizen journalists, and twitter gossip, because the reporters at the paper, and the management did not adjust to the changing world and embrace new forms of media.

As Peter explained, newspapers used to receive over 1/3 of their total revenue from classified ads and in this modern environment, many of those ads are now on Grieg’s List, Career Builder, and Monster.com. By the time an ad appears in the paper in this fast-moving world, the event is already over, and that is the way of the future. The result to newspapers like The Enquirer has been that they have to replace those classified ads with auto dealer ads which have given the paper a cheapened appearance. And to make matters worse for them, The Enquirer has pushed reporters like Bronson out the door because of his conservative views, and replaced him with liberal, “touchy,” “feely,” emotional types who are attempting to report the news with a liberal slant to a conservative town. That is not a recipe for success.

My experience with The Cincinnati Enquirer extends back into the days when Bronson was still working there, up until March of this year where my relationship with them disintegrated with the debacle article Michael Clark put out on me which was technically an “assassination article.” CLICK HERE TO REVIEW. Listening to Bronson speak I became more sympathetic of Michael Clark, a reporter I had a good relationship with for a long time, but it ended upon publication of a very provocative article about me that was designed to cause me a lot of trouble. I sympathize that times are not good at The Enquirer, and that it must be terrible always looking over your shoulder wondering when the ax is going to fall on your job, and being an education reporter for a paper that is looking to cut jobs in every possible place, education is a tough topic to cover for schools that are cutting busing, cutting jobs, and trying to keep their dirty laundry out of the public light.

Clark and I had a growing tenuous relationship through the last Lakota levy in 2011 because of a scoop to a story I tried to give him, but he refused citing that I had posted it on my blog here at Overmanwarrior’s Wisdom first. In my mind I didn’t consider citizen journalism equal to professional journalism, so I considered the story a scoop for legitimate media. Clark let me know that my blog was very much competition to him, which I was surprised to hear him say. I promised him that the next big story I had to release would come to him before I posted it on my site, giving him pure exclusivity.

I always thought Michael Clark gave fair treatment to my side of the story even though he did the typical liberal slant which was to only mention my portion of an interview in the body of each article while the pro levy people seemed to always get the first and last word. I didn’t mind, because my comments were so strong, that no matter what the other side said, they couldn’t answer my three interview lines with eight of their own. So I made good on my promise to Michael even though many of my friends in the anti-levy circles were warning me that Clark was a snake that would stick me in the back eventually. I figured that if Clark did that to me, then I’d find a way to make it work to my advantage, but in the back of my mind, I didn’t think I’d ever see it happen.

With the No Lakota Levy group the plan for a long time was to get more aggressive if the school attempted a fourth attempt and when Lakota showed signs of doing just that, we turned up the heat, as promised. We decided to create a foundation called Yes to Lakota Kids to help with the sports fees that were extremely excessive with a $10,000 donation for the districts’ neediest kids. For my friends in No Lakota Levy they genuinely wanted to help heal the community after three contentious levy failures at Lakota. For me personally, I thought it was like dropping a spoon full of water in the ocean. Hundreds of kids were still being ripped off in the sports scam at Lakota charging over $550 per sport per child, so I wasn’t happy.

I told Michael what we were doing and he and I planned an exclusive that was mutually beneficial. I wanted the coverage to show that No Lakota Levy was not a group that hurt children, but wanted to help them, and Michael wanted a story that The Enquirer could exhibit on the front page. Some of the No Lakota Levy people who were close to people working for Lakota arranged that I would present a $10,000 check to a member of the athletic department at Lakota so I set up a press conference and all the media in town was invited. Channel 5 came out, Channel 19, and of course The Enquirer. The Pulse Journal was contacted but didn’t make the press conference, but did cover it in the following Thursday edition. I did coverage on 700 WLW, so it was a pretty big deal. However, Lakota did not send over an athletic director for me to give the check to, so we basically just let the media take a picture of the $10,000 check with no school representatives present.

I can only speculate on what the school was thinking, but based on their violent reaction to my press conference, it looked as though we hit them too close to where they live. They needed to be able to extort the children to the public otherwise they could never consider passing another levy, and now we were offering a solution to the school they didn’t want to see fixed. So they pulled off the gloves and somewhere in that process they managed to win Michael Clark over to writing a very harsh article about me to get me out of the levy fight. Lakota had enough, now they were fighting for their very survival.

A few weeks prior to this event I received reports from friends of No Lakota Levy that levy supporters had gathered outside of the Lakota East Kroger store and were conducting a survey designed to belittle me in public. CLICK TO REVIEW.  So I did a blog posting about how angry it made me where I called them latté sipping prostitutes with some very descriptive language that school board member Julie Shaffer put on her Facebook and contacted some of our mutual friends at WLW and of course Michael Clark to get him to write his “assassination article.”

I wondered why Michael had done it for the last 6 months–why he betrayed our relationship for the small price of being on the good side of the Lakota School System, for the easy sports stories and covering every time an administration official moves to a new job? My whip targets in my back yard have featured the name of Michael Clark on each of them and I have cut thousands since that day. Why had he turned against me so spectacularly? So blatantly?

Well the answer is that Michael was trying to save his drowning job, and he needed a spectacular, sensational story, and he used my blog to get it. Up until the Clark article I figured that legitimate media required one kind of discussion, and online activity, comments, blogs, Facebook postings were another. But the Cincinnati Enquirer legitimized my blog as an authentic source of news, which was part of my worst case scenario plan, but even so I found the level of human betrayal to be quite extraordinary.  CLICK HERE FOR REVIEW.

Predictably Clark did me a favor he didn’t intend; he made me much more popular and killed the next Lakota Levy till at least 2013 because people saw through the media driven antics, and they smelled a rat. In the process he killed the good relationship we had which was a good source of school oriented stories for the short-term gain of a sensational story that he and his fellow reporters no doubt were high-fiving in the press room by the overwhelming negative reaction that spread across the city of Cincinnati on March 15th 2012 emitting from every radio in town my salacious blog comments about levy supporters. My numbers at Overmanwarrior’s Wisdom jumped up from 400 to 500 daily hits to 500 to 800 since then, which is what I needed to get my message out to people. Since I couldn’t trust the legitimate media to cover the education issue in the detail it required, my blog site was the best chance at combating trouble in the future, so the sensational story brought more people to the truth. The attention The Enquire gave me helped spread my blog to the rest of the state to districts who were suffering under heavy taxation in degrees similar to Lakota. And Clark is now left to scamper for silly stories that will probably end up costing him his job as mundane rhetoric settles in the wake of the controversy.

Sad, because it didn’t have to be that way, but it is what it is. Such is the competitive world of news and the changing landscape of who delivers it. In this new world it is not those who play it safe, because the real risk is in collusive protection. Sometimes to find the truth you have to pull aggressively in all the wrong directions to discover the possibilities you never thought possible. And The Enquirer played it safe, and is suffering for it.

To be continued in the next posting.

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Rich Hoffman
https://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/ten-rules-to-live-by/
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www.overmanwarrior.com