THE PLAIN DEALER CAN HAS TRANSPARENCY…?

October 30th, 2017

[Update @ 1626 on 31 October—The following comment exchange took place between the anonymous Starvin Marvin and Roldo this morning:

Posted by Starvin Marvin on 10/31/2017 at 7:28 AM

To Roldo and the other naysayers on downtown development. What would the city look like if we followed your advice and disinvested in downtown Cleveland?

Posted by Roldo Bartimole on 10/31/2017 at 10:53 AM

Rich developers would have to pay themselves and invest and the rest of us would pay less in property and other taxes, which keep going up but maybe you don’t have any concern there.

Imagine that, rich developers carrying their own water and lower taxes for the rest of us.]

Last Friday Sam Allard and I—along with a lot of other listeners to the Weekly Regional News Round Up edition of WCPN’s Sound of Ideas broadcast—had a skidmark moment when Chris Quinn, editor of Cleveland.com, dropped this bombshell at the 3:07 timemark:

We at Advance Ohio and the Plain Dealer have been a member of that group for a long time. We’re getting out. We’re not going to be a part of it anymore. We are all about transparency, and don’t want to be part of something that’s not.

No, the bombshell wasn’t Quinn’s announcement that the Plain Dealer was getting out, it was that Quinn thought he lived in a alternate universe where his organization was all about transparency.

I, and a lot of other I have no doubt, started looking for followup and I dropped a note to Roldo Bartimole to ask what he was hearing. This afternoon Sam Allard got the confirmation in Plain Dealer and Advance Ohio are Backing out of the Greater Cleveland Partnership. Allard writes:

Friday, on WCPN’s weekly Reporters’ Roundtable, Cleveland.com editor Chris Quinn announced that the Plain Dealer and Advance Ohio (PD/Cleveland.com parent company) would be renouncing their memberships in the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the local chamber of commerce.

That decision comes amid local controversy surrounding Cleveland’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters, details of which have been kept secret. Though the city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and 20 other quasi-public and private organizations were involved in the creation of the bid, no one is sharing specifics. Mayor Frank Jackson told Channel 5 that he would release the bid eventually, but GCP is said to be mandating the tight lid on information.

The final graph in Allard’s story nailed the source of the real problem here: the inherent conflicts between the missions of the GCP and journalists.

“We certainly think it is important that the major newspaper within our region is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, given our shared mission to advance the economic prosperity of our region,” said Sarah Johnson, GCP’s communications VP. “Advance Ohio and the Plain Dealer have always been good and very important members of GCP, and we will work hard to get them to rejoin.”

No Sarah, there very well may be, but their ought not to be, a shared mission between journalists and business. In Journalism Ethics 101 that’s called boosterism, a bad position for any journalist to find them self. (Ms. Johnson may very well have a journalism degree, but as I also learned in my journalism ethics class, advertising and public relation majors belong in the Business School, not the Journalism School.)

Roldo had this to say in a comment to Allard’s story:

It’s good that the Plain Dealer dropped out of the Greater Cleveland Partnership.

However, why was the newspaper ever IN a lobby group that represents corporate interests that don’t benefit most people but special interests?

The PD and the defunct Cleveland Press were both members of the GCP’s predecessor, the Greater Cleveland Growth Association. I wrote back in the 1970s that both were dues-paying members.In 1975 & 1976 the two newspapers contributed $36,000 each.

Even worse, the County Commission gave $100,000 and you’ll find that both the county and city pay these dues.

Chris Quinn should be demanding detailed information on the many and costly tax abatements and TIF arrangements and demanding public information on the cost. But for some reason only the Amazon issue has caught his attention. There are GCP deals throughout downtown, including the multi-million deal for the Quicken Arena deal, which the PD has managed to forget.

Now Quinn discovers transparency?

Please.

One Response to “THE PLAIN DEALER CAN HAS TRANSPARENCY…?”

  1. The Plain Dealer has for decades paid the Greater Cleveland Partnership and its former unit of different names as Growth Association, etc.

    I wonder if the management would have similarly supported financially the ACLU or other such beneficial organizations?

    I think not.

    The paper has been complicit in all the corporate dealings that keep some people down and some up. And we all know which.

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