Thursday, March 17, 2011

Someone at the Enquirer is Pushing an Anti-Downtown Bias, Again

I think someone at the Enquirer needs to buy a map. This article, which is titled: Ham. Co. taxpayers subsidizing downtown parking, talks about how County Commissioners are considering selling parking garages, which are located Downtown. The article also talks about how those Downtown lots are cheaper than many other lots and some of those lots are required to be provided as part of the Stadium leases.

Monzel is quoted as saying they are "subsidizing" these spaces. Something he would say because he wants the cost of everything to go up. Monzel likely loves the headline, but based on quotes I read in the article I don't read him painting this as subsidy of Downtown. Still don't need a map, yet, just maybe they don't need to spin the story so much.  But, hold on a second...

What the writing of the headline (again which read "Ham. Co. taxpayers subsidizing downtown parking") forgets is that DOWNTOWN IS LOCATED IN HAMILTON COUNTY. Downtown is NOT some foreign country. Downtown is NOT in Kentucky. Downtown is WHERE THE HAMILTON COUNTY COMMISSION MEETS. Do the Commission members park in lots that the County owns when they are doing County Business?  I am betting they do.  I wouldn't be surprised to learn they get free parking in county lots.

The headline, whether intentional or not, states that Hamilton County Tax payers are subsidizing Downtown.  The grammar which the editor likely would point to may not have been intended, but I doubt that.  There was no need to state in the headline where the parking lots were located.  The context of the article did that quite clearly.  All you would have to do is drop the word "downtown" and it wouldn't have been a problem. (At least not the headline.)  There is an anti-City and specifically anti-Downtown elements in parts of the County and the headline makes a tax payer in Anderson Township or Montgomery (or even Westwood) more likely draw an unrelated conclusion that would build the anti-Downtown attitude.  Too many non-city and non-urban (in the case of the some parts of Westwood) still will bad mouth Downtown, but we don't need the local media giving them false impressions feeding their hate.

I have repeatedly written about the need for headline writers to be VERY CAREFUL when they are writing.  People far too often only read the headlines and don't pay attention to the grammar subtleties.  Furthermore those who read the article are greatly influenced by the headline.  People might think Monzel bad mouthed Downtown if they read that headline.  I didn't read that in the body of the article, but you could have that impression.  I don't doubt Monzel has a disdain for Downtown, which his votes in the past have shown, but we don't need bias in our headlines.  Save that for the Editorial page.

Also, shouldn't the lead of the article been about parking rates at some county owned lots are going up?  That was buried.  That's odd.

9 comments:

  1. It's funny because the headline could have just as easily read "Ham. Co. taxpayers subsidizing suburban lifestyle". That parking isn't for people who live downtown, it's for people that commute there.

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  3. Wish I could "like" Travis's comment. Great observation.

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  4. In the book "The High Cost of Free Parking" Donald Shoup talks about the Federal Government subsidizing off street parking at malls to the tune of $374 billion a year.
    How come no one complains about that?

    And at least downtown parking spots can be justified.

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  5. What Travis sed.
    Downtown could also be substituted with county seat. How come nobody ever uses that term around here?

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  6. If they have a problem with the county spending money in Cincinnati, the county should vote to move the seat elsewhere... like Cheviot or Norwood... or Harrison.

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  7. The problem is that they are singling out downtown as somehow being the only place in the county where parking is subsidized. When commercial developments are built in Blue Ash, Anderson Township or Green Township, they typically receive county incentives which pay (or offset) the associated infrastructure costs.

    I for one wholeheartedly disagree that parking should be considered infrastructure, but at this day and age it is. So while the county may not own those suburban parking facilities, they are paying for them and thus allowing the shoppers and office workers to park there for free. If the developer had to absorb those costs they would be past on to the user.

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  8. There's a fairly hilarious sentiment in Cincinnati that parking lots are some kind of lucrative deployment of capital.

    Ideally, you want a building there! It's worth a lot more.

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  9. I had a bigger problem with the word "subsidize." When I read the headline, I thought the article would reveal that the County is operating parking facilities at a loss. Instead, the article only makes the case that the County charges less than market rates.

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