Dayton Daily News may be up for sale

For years- Cox Enterprises refused to sign a contract with most of their unions. All of a sudden, every bargaining unit is under contract.

There has been a mad rush to create new online properties like, which is laughably late- and an amateur production.

They recently offered a digital subscription for $20 a year- while they’d been robbing me for $10 a month.

Claims are, they are making money. First time in a long time, but, it’s come at a steep price. They’ve sliced staffing of actual news people to the bone. Institutional knowledge and even the rare few super-talented people they had- cut.

They’ve created an editing stable on the top floor- that attempts to edit the copy from their entire network – with disastrous results. I’m sure I’m not the only one who snickers every time I see 9/11 turned into a fraction, or key people’s names mangled or missing.

All this points to only one thing- they’re getting ready to sell the whole shooting match, and think that some internet billionaire with a J. Jonah Jameson complex is going to buy them. It happened to the Washington Post- so why not? (Amazon’s Jeff Bezo’s bought the paper, on the side, unrelated to Amazon).

I personally don’t think anyone is stupid enough to reach down this far in the barrel to buy the DDn, which is no longer separable from WHIO etc.- as part of  “Cox Ohio”- etc. but, the reality is what they would buy is the biggest mess of Internet incompetence ever concocted.

The entire digital strategy, platform, and management is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Just the fact that I, as a subscriber, have to log in so many times to the same machines- since they can’t keep track of my login screams that they have no clue how to digitally target and sell value added ads to advertisers. Just because you are the only game in town, doesn’t mean you play it well.

How long it takes for them to find a sucker and negotiate a deal isn’t something I’ll venture to guess a timeline for, but mark my words, it’s being packaged and primped for a push as you read this.

Time to fire the “community development” manager

Despite being bombed into the ground during WWII, Berlin today looks much like prewar Berlin.
In London, despite being bombed, landmarks all don’t show the marks of war.

In Dayton, someone makes a permitting mistake, a demolition contractor begins to demolish a building that wasn’t supposed to be torn down- and they let the work continue. HORSESHIT. It’s not up to Steve Rauch, a developer, or Aaron Sorrell the “community development” director- who stopped the demolition of the landmark Cox HQ/ Dayton Daily News building on Monday- to continue. The whole concept of landmarks and the public trust- is that they belong to us- the community- not to private parties or even government officials.

We have to value what we had. Here is what the Dayton Business Journal is reporting about the botched demolition:

The project will continue as scheduled, with the 1922 portion of the building coming down Monday, and developer Steve Papa, an owner with Student Suites, reaffirmed to me in an interview Friday his commitment to the project and to cooperation with the city.

“We’ve never left a city without paying everyone, and we’ve never started a project that we didn’t open, and we’re not going to leave Dayton,” Papa said. “The community cooperation has been really refreshing.”

Steve R. Rauch Inc. is the demolition contractor for the project. The company began tearing down the 1922 portion of the historic building on Monday, and was ordered to stop work because the city believed the 1922 portion was to be saved. But Scott Wells, a project manager with Rauch, said the only portion of the building that was ever supposed to be saved was the 1908 portion.

“It’s all been mostly political,” Wells said. “It was supposed to come down from the beginning,” Papa said even though there was a misunderstanding between the city and the developer, the city has been an excellent partner in the project.

Sorrell said the demolition process uncovered a flaw in the city’s permitting process, which sent mixed messages to the contractors. The city’s Landmarks Commission had intended the 1922 facade to be kept in the redevelopment, but that message was never included in the demolition permit, so the developer moved forward with demolition.“We now see where we missed that in our systems,” Sorrell said. “Unfortunately it was this building that uncovered it. We will fix that and move forward.”

via Downtown demolition to continue Monday to make way for student housing – Dayton Business Journal.

When I put up the wrong kind of garage doors in an unmarked historic district, I was forced to change them. And do community service.

Sorrell was the one who negotiated the contract, he’s the one who stopped the criminal activity as it happened, and now, he’s claiming- oh, well, it’s a learning experience. No, double no, and HELL NO. We don’t need clowns like this, who shirk their responsibility- and allow criminal damaging to our landmarks.

It’s bad enough that they allowed the implosion of the Schwind Building before the deed was cleared and the contract signed. That should be grounds for firing as well. There was nothing wrong with the Schwind that the million dollars paid to blow it up – couldn’t have fixed and made the building usable. Of course, the former owners were both local people who didn’t pay off politicians or work to do the work of Sinclair- the community college Montgomery subsidizes to expand into Warren and Greene counties.

If Berlin could be rebuilt, the back of the Cox building can be. If it wasn’t supposed to come down, demolition shouldn’t continue. End of story.

It’s time that we had real accountability in this town- instead of doing whatever the big political donors want.

I’m hoping Preservation Dayton steps in, or Cox Ohio, to file an injunction and stop further demolition until we can firmly assess the costs of restoring the landmark that was Governor Cox’s legacy- all of it.

WHIOTV makes up news as they go along

This “story” that WHIOTV ran today, is a prime example of manufactured news.

Unfortunately- I can’t embed it here, like I can the well produced and much more factual story run by the Columbus station that got the story first.

This was a laptop that I found on Craigslist. I sent my employee- Matthew Sliver (not Michael as they first call him) to Columbus with another employee to buy it. I told him what to look for- and for them to take a picture of the buyer- since he didn’t have the box or disks that went with it. I was the one who made the initial contact and who paid for the computer. This was on July 5th 2012.

When they brought it back- and I started to look through the machine- I found software registered to a man not named “Joe”- and googled him, to find out he was a doctor in Columbus. The computer had been stolen out of his wife’s BMW 6 weeks previous. He wasn’t interested in the computer as much as in other personal items that had been stolen from the car. He’d filed a police report- but had heard nothing.

Since Joe had offered a choice between 2 laptops when I called him- I contacted a grade school friend of mine who is a Columbus PD detective. He put me in contact with his lieutenant- and we coordinated the sting. Matthew drove back to Columbus and the cops made the bust before he’d even started the process.

Turned out “Joe” not only had 3 other stolen laptops in his car- he was due in court the next day for “receiving stolen property.” More laptops.

The doctor, as the story said, didn’t request the laptop back, and actually persuaded the Columbus police not to demand its return for “evidence.”

Cox media has suffered huge losses in revenue due to Craigslist and their loss of their classified ad revenue. They love to run stories about the perils of Craigslist. This was a prime example. We’ve bought and sold many pieces of equipment on Craigslist, all without incident. The fact that criminals use Craigslist to unload stolen goods is no different than them using ebay, pawn shops or any other way of selling goods- but let’s not let this get in the way of making up news to suit our own purposes.

If WHIO wanted to get real news- they wouldn’t have had to rely on the Columbus station that cued them into this success story of the Columbus PD at arresting a criminal, and point out that Matthew went above and beyond in volunteering to meet with this criminal and help the police recover other stolen goods. This shouldn’t have been a story about the perils of Craigslist as much as it should have been a story about a good citizen, doing the right thing, and helping police take a scumbag off the street.

And while Matthew does work in social media- he’s an account executive/account planner for The Next Wave, and we’re damn proud of him and hope when you need smart, savvy help with marketing problems, you call him first. 937-228-4433

And- if you want to see how a real TV station reports the story- getting the facts a lot clearer and telling the story without bias watch the Columbus stations news:

Channel 7 is as sloppy as their “newspaper”- facts take the back seat.

And the survey said: DDn to restructure

The reason the Dayton Daily news has lost readership isn’t that they have a liberal bias, or make idiotic endorsements, the reason the Dayton Daily news has lost readership is that they don’t write interesting stories.

With a huge staff (the billboards brag about 1,000 people to “serve you”) the best they can publish is a police blotter crib sheet and stories that are handed to them (often by me).

People have an even greater appetite for useful information- in case the DDn didn’t realize, Google makes a living out of just sending people to places to get good info. The DDn is struggling- for many reasons, but contrary to what the survey says- it’s not the liberal bias: it’s the lack of intelligent thought.

Julia Wallace came to town at the beginning of this year as the new publisher/editor/fixer of a broken newsroom and consolidator of Cox Media holdings in Dayton. She’s yet to write jack in the paper. If she’s been out to meet the people of Dayton- it’s not anyone I know (and I know a lot of people). But, she did order up some market research to confirm what she thought was the problem- and lo and behold she got the stats she wanted.

I questioned how long the DDn would keep editorial writers on board before she rode into town. Now, she’s planning to do the same here. We’ve been down to a staff of two in Dayton, since Scott Elliott left for the Indy paper right as Wallace came on board- and the output of Martin Gottlieb and queen Ellen Belcher has diminished since.

Rumor has it that Martin is finally going to head for the land of typewriters in July- and no one knows if Ellen will follow into retirement or get pushed into some meaningless job until she finds her exit strategy. No more endorsements- no more pontificating- the paper will have more room to run syndicated columnists- because- of course, we can’t have opinions or even discussions in Dayton without calling a blue ribbon panel and inviting half the town to weigh in.

Strong voices aren’t liked here- and Wallace has been doing a good job of not having a voice at all. What’s even more odd- is she’s insisted on screening every story on SB5 that goes into publication- an odd move for a managing editor- but, when you realize that the staff has been working without a contract for over ten years- you know that the Cox sisters have no use for organized labor.

But, to make things even more mundane- rumor also has it that the community doesn’t deserve it’s own columnist either- and Mary McCarty will be reduced to a feature writer- losing her Metro column. Not that McCarty has set the world on fire with columns that shine lights in dark corners or even spotlighting the many great things happening in Dayton- her schtick changed when she went off to China to adopt a little orphan girl and her column turned into a mommy blog.

There is and will continue to be plenty to write about in Dayton that never sees the light of day. Considering I do this site solo- with no compensation- and have managed to scoop the DDn repeatedly. This site gets about 30K unique visitors per month- and when I break news, it gets circulated among the power elite in Dayton. You read about it later in the DDn.

If there is one story I’ve been most proud to bring you- it was the uncovering of Qbase as a fraud and a political slush fund/pay to play operation. The DDN only got the story a year and a half later- and still didn’t get it right.

I was also pretty pleased about uncovering Congressman Turner’s wife’s firm, the Turner Effect, getting the no-bid contract with the Dayton Development Coalition- her over billing, the connection between DDC board members and Real Art- her primary subcontractor and then the subsequent finding that she held a GSA schedule and was doing work for the Army Corps of Engineers while her husband sat on the Defense Appropriation Committee- a direct violation of ethical standards. For icing on the cake I  also uncovering her work for the Home Depot PAC- a cute way to payoff a congressman through his wifes business. Neither company is still in business today as they were.

I’ve been on the forefront of City Charter issues, Board of Elections issues and introduced the Monarchy of Montgomery County to the people who care. That nothing has been done to unseat them- has been partially the work of Ms. Belcher- who has her direct connection to the Democratic machine through her husband, Judge Dennis Langer. You never saw anyone questioning the local party- even though it has failed to ever mount credible opposition to Mike Turner, and the party Chairman- Dayton Clerk of Courts Mark Owens ran Mayor McLin’s failed campaign into a concrete wall with 5x the budget against a nobody, but never got his IQ questioned publicly.

While Wallace may be screwing up the paper, and the community out of real news, the overthrow of Queen Ellen is long overdue and for that, we must say Thank you.

But, Julia- if you really want to improve the paper- it’s really simple- stop being a police and traffic blotter and get down to the real news and investigation on why we live in such a dysfunctional city. Dig out the waste and corruption, showcase our stars and take a few writing classes from Tom Archdeacon, because he’s the only one you have who can write something worth paying for IMHO.

I’ll be scooping you again on Wednesday morning. Get used to it.