Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Psychic Reporting From CityBeat?

I'm a fan of CityBeat generally and Kevin Osborne in particular, so I was surprised to see a bit of sloppiness in the new edition (on newsstands today, July 29). Osborne's latest Porkopolis column is about the mayoral race. To open, Osborne writes that "Dr. Brad Wenstrup . . . announced his platform July 29 in the city's Westwood neighborhood." Osborne goes on to describe (and critique) Wenstrup's platform, sprinkling quotes from the candidate throughout the piece. Osborne leaves the impression (hopefully unintentionally) that the quotes were spoken by Wenstrup as he rolled out his platform.

But wait....that can't be right, can it? Did CityBeat really hold its print edition until Wenstrup's press conference was concluded, give Osborne time to write it up, and then print and distrbute the new edition all on the same day?

Of course not. CityBeat is a weekly, published Wednesdays, so most people will read the column after the press conference has happened. Maybe it's understandable, then, that Osborne wrote about the press conference in the past tense. But Osborne should have made clear that the quotes he prints are not from the presser, but are instead from either an interview previously conducted with Wenstrup or (more likely) Wenstrup's press release announcing the platform.

CityBeat is an increasingly important voice in Cincinnati. Following the demise of the Post and the Enquirer's adoption of its new motto ("The Constantly Shrinking Newspaper"), Cincinnatians have few options for news coverage. If CityBeat wishes to remain one of those options, it should be more careful.

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