Monday, February 28, 2011

How Will the Cincinnati Media Tackle the 10th Anniversary of the Riots?

We are less than two months away from the 10 year anniversary of the Riots that followed the police shooting of Timothy Thomas. It is the time for the local media to be planning how they are going to commemorate that event, if at all. I think I found one such plan from WCPO with this Twitter account: @TEN_YEARS_LATER. A quick search on WCPO's website turns up this test post, which indicates that a least a story is in the works, if not more.

I'm not looking forward to looking back on the Riots. Other than living in Cincinnati at the time and from my ninth story office watching a couple dozen kids cause some minor vandlism Downtown, I didn't experience them. I followed the news coverage of the riots like a hawk, and it was terrible. It showed a lack of understanding and of experience in coverage of the rioters point of view. No journalist had any remembered ability to get inside the story as it was happening over multiple days.  Instead the press was driven off by small incidents of rock or bottle throwing or were held back by the police from entering  most of Over-the-Rhine, which was the center of most of the violence.

There were several good pieces that ran well after the riots, but the importance of the early and first draft of history type reporting is critical. In the case of April 2001, our local media failed to know what was going on. They couldn't or wouldn't get into the scene and cover it. They stood by the sidelines and bought the hype and what little they could get from police scanners or the handful of contacts on scene as the only story. That was not good journalism.  With the vast reduction of news gathering resources of today's media, I don't believe they could do any better now.  Citizen journalists can't make-up the difference and provide objective reporting that is comprehensive, serving every part of the public.

The City and it's citizens overall ability to deal with those types of situations, like both the shooting and the riots after, can better be handled with a local media that can engage all segments of the population. 10 years ago, one segment was vastly undeserved.  I don't think it has measurably improved.

1 comment:

  1. Wonder what Pete Bronson has up his sleeve?


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