Why the Mayor Shouldn’t Snub Us When He Calls a Press Conference — or ‘Dealing with Alternative Media’


(Photo: Osama Hajjaj)

The unconventional can be difficult for conventional people to understand. Institutions are also victims of their own perspective, making it difficult to know how to deal with an organization, such as CityBeat, that happily defies the conventions that rule them.

City officials really seem to have a hard time with this, as evidenced by the recent exclusion of our paper and the “unconventional” medium of radio from a meeting hosted by Mayor Mark Mallory.

I feel sorry for the people stuck inside the box, so here are a few hints on how to deal with the unconventional.

We’re like teenagers — full of curiosity and powered by an energy that equals a nuclear reactor going full tilt. Harness that and you’ll have a power resource at your disposal. Tell us “No, because I said so” and you have flipped the meltdown switch. Why? Because cutting off dialogue implies you’re trying to hide or cover things up, so we get suspicious. That spikes the curiosity, and you’ve just created what you wanted to avoid – our involvement.

Creativity and being different is IT — We live “outside the box” and we fight being pushed into those confines. When you stay inside the known and safe, eventually you suffocate. Corporations like 3M “get” that; they require a certain percentage of new products every year. They keep the moneymaking stuff on the shelves, but they know if you don’t come up with anything new, those tried-and-true items will become obsolete with no replacement ready. Don’t fear being different — it’s a hell of a lot more fun!

Nothing is taboo — The more “out there,” ignored or potentially difficult a topic is, the more we’re attracted to it. There are plenty of papers, magazines and other “institutions” willing to play it safe and ignore the hard stuff. We don’t bother with the stuff that’s been sucked dry. The most interesting, challenging and true things exist in the rich muck. Fertilizer (shit) is what beautiful plants need to grow. It stinks but it’s loaded with good things.

Truth not PR — Truth is dynamic and contingent upon circumstances, so our version of the truth might not be someone else’s. We get that. Disagree with us? Tell us — we publish just as many critical letters, if not more, than the complimentary kind. The band The Spurzz protested outside our building after not being included in the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards nominees. We let them use our electricity to power their speakers — how much more supportive can we be of receiving criticism? Oh, and “truth” doesn’t mean ignoring or hiding things that don’t fit a pretty picture — that’s cowardice.

When we compliment people, they’re happy. Then-State Sen. Mark Mallory was pleased to be endorsed by CityBeat, the only local paper (along with The Herald) that recognized his potential as the next mayor of the Queen City. But now he’s pulling a Streicher by excluding CityBeat from a meeting. We have to ask ourselves why.

Is it because he wanted to keep us away from a controversial topic? He blew that one, because other people DO talk to us — we’re reporters, we have sources, professional connections, etc. (Check out Porkopolis in today’s edition).

Is it because we don’t have a television camera to stick in his face? Or maybe it’s because we haven’t given him enough compliments since his election? But he set the expectations and has failed to deliver on them — we’re not going to pretend he didn’t make those commitments.

We’d love an explanation. It’ll be interesting to see how many “anonymous” bloggers from his staff respond to this one with criticism. In the meantime, we can be reached at 513-665-4700 if anyone wants to meet with us and have a face-to-face conversation.

— Margo Pierce

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23 Comments on “Why the Mayor Shouldn’t Snub Us When He Calls a Press Conference — or ‘Dealing with Alternative Media’”

  1. Pathetic Says:

    At the get go, I’m going to make it clear that I’m not a nazi or KKK supporter, nor am I a fan of what they do & nor will I ever honor or dignify their policies, foundations, etc.

    However, what this glamorous dandy boy of a do-nothing mayor we have is profoundly racist & dictatorial.

    His Castro-dictator style isn’t going to cut the cake with people in this city. Try as he might, there are many of us who will uncover the truth, the stories. I can’t thank City Beat enough for bringing this story out.

    What Dandy Mallory has done is media censorship to the very people who voted him into office, those he was successfully able to sucker into voting for him. That bloc of voters are largely poor, many in low paying jobs, live in less than desirable housing conditions, some are black, some are Appalachian, some are of other cultures, they don’t have a reliable running car, if they possess a car at all, some have minor records, and most of all, a computer & the internet are a foreign language to them & that equipment isn’t factored in their budgets. The folks he has blacked out, if you will, don’t have convenient access to online articles such as this, so that they may be fully informed with the truth. This is the start of dictatorship, iron hand rule. It’s very scary, especially coming from someone as incompetent as the mayor has proven he truly is. Pretty Boy Mallory has done his true constituents an unforgiving injustice.

    If this isn’t published in the papers & told on the news, how are these individuals without the tools to know exactly what is going on??? That is the whole scheme – keep them darked out.

    The voters need to referendum this Pressed & Pretty mayor right out of office. The sooner the better.

  2. Monica Says:

    Exactly why should the Mayor meet with CityBeat?? In fact why should Black folks care one bit about this “alternative” newspaper? I am curious to know the answer to that question. There was a time when as a progressive, social activist I was a constant reader of CityBeat as it was a source of alternative news which included items that impacted the Black community. Unfortunately that is no longer the case and for that reason alone I rarely read the actual hardcopy. It seems as though Kathy Wilson took the soul of CityBeat with her when she departed.

  3. Gregory Flannery Says:

    Monica, in case you didn’t notice, Mayor Mallory is black. That’s worth keeping in mind when you question CityBeat’s commitment to reporting on tems that impact the black community. Also see this week’s cover story about the Hip Hop Youth Center, most of whose clients are African-American youths. But most important, if you have news our readers should read, please contact us.

  4. Monica Says:

    Greg,

    Spare me the sarcasm.!! I am well aware of the race of the Mayor. Further the fact that there is a cover story about Elementz does not in and of itself mean that the story is wholly about black folks. While I have not read the story I did see the cover and if I am not mistaken the cover gives the impression that it is about Gavin Leonard who is not Black. As far as I am concerned CityBeat has done more than a fair job of abandoning the issues that are important to the Black community. We are about more than Elementz as I would hope that you and others there are aware. The fact that the Hip Hop story ran this week and your jaded coverage of the Mayor is in no way indicative of the issues that face the Black community in Cincinnati.

  5. Gregory Flannery Says:

    Monica, what do you have in mind? Which issues would you like to see addressed?

  6. Chris Anderson Says:

    The first 7 paragraphs of this post are are breathtaking in their self-regard, but whatever.

    Maybe he thought your paper would be insignificant in shaping the public perception of whatever may or may not happen on Monday. That’s got to sting a little.

    For what it’s worth, the exclusion is a backhand slap at City Beat readers, too.

  7. Gregory Flannery Says:

    Chris, the irony is that, as a result of the snub, CityBeat is the only media outlet that was able to report on the possible Nazi rally. Everyone who attended agreed to keep the story off the record. That is what makes Mallory’s conduct so appalling. Shouldn’t the public be informed if Nazis plan to hold a rally here?

  8. Monica Says:

    Greg,

    Maybe if CityBeat lived up to it’s own Affirmative Action Plan (if there is such a thing) then possibly you guys would not have to rely so heavily on Black reader input.

    Further, I guess Black folks are supposed to be happy because CityBeat highlighted a “hip-hop” issue as though all Black folks are into hip hop – especially when the focus of the article is just as much about Gavin Leonard, who is white as it is about the people who frequent this center, who happen to be Black. This is just another feel good example of the liberal media making a feeble attempt to be relevant to the larger Black community. Surely you guys do not need me to tell you what issues impact Black folks in Cincinnati and if you do that simply substantiates my point.

  9. Gregory Flannery Says:

    Monica, I think you just rephrased the childhood taunt: “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you.” You’re the one who said we’re missing something, I ask what we’re missing, and this is your response? Maybe you’re the one who doesn’t know about the issues that are of importance to the black community.

  10. Chris Anderson Says:

    I don’t think we disagree–I was just throwing out a possible reason for the snub.

    I’m not a journalist, so I’m asking this question sincerely: Given that these rallies are staged first to provoke, and second to attract media attention, is it possible that a news organization would better serve the public interest by taking a pass on covering it at all?

    I don’t know if that was the mayor’s pitch, but if it was, then it makes even less sense to have excluded you.

  11. Monica Says:

    Once again Greg you have resorted to patronizing me rather than dealing with the issues that I have raised. CityBeat purports to be the alternative voice in our community. I did not make that claim on behalf of CityBeat. Is CityBeat about justice or not? If so, why is there no black perspective in the paper? It’s not just about a single story or the endorsement of a single person. It’s about respecting us enough to give us a voice. All the time.

  12. Gregory Flannery Says:

    Monica, CityBeat only claims to be an alternative voice, not THE alternative voice. If your point is that we have no issues on the theme of justice, you haven’t been reading the paper. Your suggestion that we have “no black perspective” in our pages is simply ridiculous. We often interview and write about African Americans. One of the regular writers in our Voices section is African-American. Again I ask, what is that you think is missing?

  13. Monica Says:

    Greg,

    Black issues are not simply about justice or lack thereof. There are a myriad of issues which impact the lives of Black people in this city. Further, as I previously I have stated it seems to me that CityBeat has chosen to cover almost every alternative community in the City. I distinctively recall not too many years past CityBeat made it clear that it was THE alternative voice in the community. When was the last time CityBeat wrote an article about a Black person in the social justice community, who was not affiliated with any of your pet organizations?

  14. Gregory Flannery Says:

    Monica, please see “Generous Homecoming (http://www.citybeat.com/current/news3.shtml) in yesterday’s edition. It’s a story about a Nigerian immigrant raising money for charitable projects in Africa.

  15. a downtowner Says:

    Let’s face it, your paper just sucks. Take a look at all the newstands around the city with CinWeekly and think back to when your paper was the only game in town.

    Well guess what, the free market works. CW came in is giving people the entertainment news & information they actually “want” without the political BS and slanted crappy stories shoved down their throats.

  16. Sam Robinson Says:

    Well, I’m a big fan of Mayor Mallory. He’s got a long track record in politics, deep local roots — plus, he keeps managing to get “elected” (whatever that means given the untrustworthy and unverifiable vote counting machines that we voters put up with). I can’t believe Mallory doesn’t always keep the best interests of Cincinnati’t Black and Progressive communities first in his mind.

    Given my favorable bias towards the Mayor and given circumstances which look unflattering, I ask myself why he didn’t invited CityBeat to an apparently private, off-the-record discussion of a possible local Nazi PR event. Let’s assume he’s smart, that he’s interested in the best outcome for the city and that he doesn’t want to alienate CityBeat or diminish its position in the local media landscape. Why not invite CityBeat to a meeting which is meant to persuade a subset of the local media not to cover the Nazi story?

    I can think of two reasons. 1) He assumes –rightly?– that CtyBeat’s going to cover the story no matter what he says. 2) He wants public discussion of the Nazi PR event to occur someplace, not all over the place. He’s not worried one way or the other about the effect of public discussion about the Nazi PR event in CityBeat’s corner of the local media market.

    So, with apologies to Greg Flannery, I don’t find this episode “appalling.” Maybe it’s message control, maybe it’s managing the media, but of all the ways for a possible Nazi rally in Cincinnati on the Martin Luther King Holiday to play out the way I’d want it to go is as quietly as possible, as short as possible and with the least possible amount of collateral damage.

    One of the changes that went along with the so-called “strong Mayor” concept was the goal of creating more authoritative and legitimate voice for the city. I’m all for a strong mayor who doesn’t use the power of his office to amplify the importance of the radical far-right fringe voice in Cincinnati. Peter Bronson and the Enquirer don’t need any help with that.

  17. DemWatcher Says:

    Sam,

    If it were a left-wing group and Mallory tried to “control the message” and keep the event under wraps, you’d be singing a different tune. Truth and disclosure aren’t just nice virtues when it’s convenient.

    Also, to downtowner, CIN Weekly and CityBeat go after entirely different audiences. CIN is basically targeted at white, suburban soccer moms who still want to think they’re “edgy,” and that paper’s article are inane.

  18. Margo Says:

    Chris and Sam,

    In response to what you are saying and asking:

    “Given that these rallies are staged first to provoke, and second to attract media attention, is it possible that a news organization would better serve the public interest by taking a pass on covering it at all?”

    Keeping ANY issue in the dark is exactly the wrong way to DEAL with it. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. Dare I begin a list? Clergy abuse, incest, child abuse, spousal battery, drug abuse, “don’t ask, don’t tell”…. All of those things are as disgusting as what the neo-Nazi’s represent. They all grow and fester and continue in secrecy, in silence. Education makes people aware and dispels the ignorance that perpetuates that kind of crap.

    So, what is a “better” response to the neo-Nazi’s coming to town? THIS, what we’re doing here: a discussion about what means and how to address it. Our city has a reputation for being racist and if we want to change that, starting with deinstitutionalizing racism in our government and the public sector, then we do what Mallory said he was going to do when he was campaigning – admit we have a problem and deal with it.

    The way to handle a negative is to make it a positive. If the neo-Nazis are coming, let them come! We can be prepared to shout them down, counter-demonstrate and run them out of town on the rails of tolerance. But we can’t do that if we cover up the whole thing.

    If you let them speak – such as handing out flyers on UC’s campus – and not respond then you are allowing their message to be the only one that is heard. It only took one little kid in a quiet voice questioning the Emperor’s New Clothes to get a huge group of adults to listen. Imagine what might happen of 500,000 people chimed in?

    Yes, there is more than one way to address a problem – this is only one way. That said, I fail to see how Mallory’s approach “helps” Cincinnati. Enlighten me as to how secrecy is a good policy – I really am curious.

  19. John Fox Says:

    Good conversation and comments, though I want to correct a misconception tossed out by “downtowner” that Cin Weekly has harmed CityBeat since it debuted three-plus years ago — CityBeat continues to grow our readership, and Cin Weekly readership has actually flattened out and declined — the latest Media Audit report (an independent audience survey that has similar function as the Nielsen and Arbitron ratings for broadcast) shows CityBeat’s weekly readership at 185,700 and Cin Weekly at 98,300 — we’re still the #2 print publication in Greater Cincinnati behind the Enquirer.

    Downtowner is correct: the free market works, and it’s clearly chosen CityBeat.

  20. Monica Says:

    Greg, clearly we have very different ideas regarding the lack of black perspective from CityBeat. To clarify for you I will state the following:
    When I speak of Black perspective it’s simply not enough that from time to time City Beat staffers report on stories or people that THEY think may interest us. CityBeat becomes relevant to Black people when a Black perspective is given no matter what the topic or issue. So, it’s not a question of which topic you guys report on. It’s a question of the manner in which any topic is reported. Where is our voice? And if we have no voice, why should we read your paper. For similar reasons I do not read the Cincinnati Enquirer with any regularity. In a city that is 45% African American, why are we so under-represented in your paper? I mean the whole premise behind freedom of the press is that the press somehow represents the people, right? So, where’s our representation – all 45% of it?

  21. Gregory Flannery Says:

    Monica, I guess we just have to disagree. You ask, “Why are we so under-represented?” I don’t see that as true. My offer still stands: When you know a story that we should be reporting, I’d be grateful if you’d let us know.

  22. CincyRealityCheck Says:

    Monica,

    Women make up more than 50% of the U.S. population. There are more single people without children than marrieds or adults with kids. The number of Hispanics in our area is rapidly increasing. Add in all of the other cultural and religious perspectives out there and Cincinnati looks like the proverbial melting pot.

    The reality is that we live in a pluralistic society. It doesn’t get to be all about you or me or anyone else. What we need to do as a society is to be as inclusive as possible and recognize that sometimes we get the spotlight and sometimes we don’t. Is it going to happen over night? No. In our lifetime? Maybe, but only if we stop looking at the world through our own colored glasses.

    So you can rant and rave all you want about not being represented by CityBeat, but if you aren’t going to read the paper your opinion is uninformed and your argument is unfounded. As far as I can tell, Kathy Wilson isn’t the only black writer in this city. Pick up a few editions of the paper and read the columns by a disabled woman, an African American man and articles by… Well, you’ll figure out the rest, if you really want to.


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