The Dayton Day-old News

Annotated Dayton Daily news showing bad news was the norm then and now

Front page of the Dayton Daily News on September 22, 1933 during the John Dillinger arrest- and still a bad newspaper

I stopped getting home delivery of the Dayton Daily News years ago because the paper couldn’t be on my doorstep at 6am everyday. I’m a morning person, and the ritual of getting up, reading the paper and moving on is important.

The iPad edition sucks. It gives a visual representation of a printed paper, and you can tap on an article and get it in a readable, scroll-able format. You can increase type size, and you can share (although limited). There is zero interaction with the paper or other readers through this edition. The app crashes, takes forever to load, has quirks like posting a grey box over the info on what stations and times an NFL game is, and if you switch apps- you are again waiting for the slow load.

It’s digital newspaper only the way a non-digital person would think of delivering it- still. In 2017.

But, now since the Cox sisters shut down the Franklin Print Technology center- the print edition has a deadline of 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm- depending on who you ask. It doesn’t matter. A “morning daily” that has a deadline much before 11pm is not a morning daily. Today’s paper didn’t have the Trotwood HS state championship score- or recap- just an article about the upcoming game. For the record- Trotwood beat Dresden Tri-Valley 27-19.

And they wonder why no one subscribes?

Of course, because they don’t understand digital in the least, they’ve done stupid things galore.

The most annoying is having all their “reporters” have Facebook presence and try to create clickbait stories, do polls, and “engage” with Facebook audiences. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve seen them “find” on Facebook- and make it into the paper days later. Trolling facebook for news has to be the most pathetic thing ever done by a true journalist.

Unfortunately, in order for Democracy to work the way our founding fathers envisioned it a vibrant, thriving fourth estate is mandatory. Without the checking of their actions, we’re doomed to the kind of insanity that’s been going on in DPS, Dayton City Hall, the state house and the jail.

As the Dayton Day-old news continues to focus on shootings, car accidents, and running stories off the wire, there is less reason for an educated population to read it. They can all get the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal or New York Times delivered on the same device for about the same money and get real reporting with real news- albeit, not local.

It’s said that the advent of CraigsList- free classifieds, that sucked revenue out of the newspaper was the first major blow, but it’s a lot more complicated than just a loss of easy ad revenue. Newspapers didn’t understand how to communicate in a web 2.0 world to save their ink wells. The saying “Never argue with anyone who buys ink by the barrel” was so ingrained in their old school heads that they thought the only “discussion” was limited to “Letters to the editor” and an occasional guest column on the “Op-Ed Page”- that’s short for Opposite Editorial Page- which is funny, because the Dayton Day-old news did away with the Editorial page (local) long ago. No longer are “impartial” observers of the community trusted to define the local issues of the day in their world- we’ll try to “curate” the best and brightest of national writers, with an occasional local group spew guided conversation of people we deem as friends of our family (or whatever.) In the meantime- the rest of the world has thrived on legitimate discussion and conversation. Ever seen Reddit? 4Chan? Or Facebook? It’s full of conversations, by amateurs, on current events and interest. Where’s the 2 way channel on the Dayton Daily? It’s on Facebook- a property they don’t own, that they don’t get real revenue from, and where they aren’t in control. What kind of business model is that? A doomed on.

Cox has recently sold off good papers in other markets where they don’t have joint media properties- like a newspaper plus TV plus radio. This kind of operation used to be illegal- but Cox was grandfathered in in Dayton and Atlanta. Yet, here, the “integrated newsroom” is just as badly run as a single newsroom because their answer to the digital Armageddon has been to create more bad sites instead of on focusing on one good one- and then building a community.

No one other than them sees local news any differently on a digital screen from WHIO TV, WHIO Radio, Dayton Daily- etc. You don’t need 10 bad sites- you need one good one.

You don’t deliver news via “channels” you deliver it to people on screens of all kinds. And frankly, instead of printing your paper in Indy- you’d have saved money by giving the few remaining print subscribers a tablet with cellular connectivity and delivered the paper with a constant news stream that can be customized to their preferences- but, nooooo, you don’t get it.

You didn’t build a community, you destroyed it. You didn’t build a database of customers to deliver targeted ads, you let someone else do it, you didn’t invest in the best possible content producers with a deep understanding of local issues- you hired kids out of school and asked for click bait. You didn’t integrate production in a way that works – you kept following the same old “if it bleeds it leads” news style which isn’t really that interesting unless it’s at least 5 people bleeding (mass shootings have raised the bar on sensitivity).

I’ve offered before to help the Cox sisters put their inheritance back on the track to greatness in the era that they haven’t yet figured out, and I’m still willing to help them out- even though they still have enough money to actually benefit from the new tax plan (guaranteeing that if they just sold all this off- they’d still be rich beyond need and not be bothered with the rigors of pretend journalism). But, it’ll never happen.

You see, fake news is actually real news now, and day old fake news works just as well- just click here to see what Barbara Cox was doing when she got caught on film just before she died….

 

R.I.P. the Dayton Daily news

Who killed the newspaperThe “newspaper” that shows up on a very few doorsteps tomorrow morning will have come to you from Indianapolis. The deadline for this cost saving measure is now 5pm. They started testing this 2 weeks ago, so when I saw the Dragon’s lose their last game of the playoffs on a Sunday night- I got to read about it in Tuesdays paper.

The old saying, “never argue with anyone who buys ink by the barrel” no longer holds in Dayton, since the Cox sisters are too cheap to even buy ink anymore. It’s the cheapness that’s helped kill it off, bit by bit. First with putting the printing plant in Warren County- no doubt to avoid the high Montgomery County taxes- which they happily endorsed (they in effect, voted with their feet after only 30 years of paying for Sinclair Community College), their whittling of actual talent from the ranks- where they laid off their photographers (and lost a 2x Pulitzer winning photo editor, Larry C. Price- the story broke here on this site btw). They cut the news staff, they built a “national copy editing desk” pooling “talent” on the fourth floor, thinking all copy editors do is check grammar, and edit for length (I’m the son of a newspaper copy editor, who taught me that good editors check facts, do their research, and know their city better than the reporters to help make sure the story isn’t only factual and concise- but, fair and balanced.)

Then, came more cuts, and the peter principle. Literally, the semi-competent city hall reporter becomes the editor, a cub reporter cum layout artist becomes the vp of content, a fresh faced sales guy becomes market vp, etc. While the people who actually can dig a story, or write well, get early buyouts or become contractors.

The sad fact is, Cox has invested in one horrible digital strategy after another. Their epaper is a total joke, they’ve built multiple websites for the paper, for the city, for the TV station, for the “news radio” station and tried to integrate “talent” but never understood their audience, or that no one but them thinks or cares what screen they get their news on- be it an iPad, Kindle, cell phone, desktop or even TV- it’s the news- and they want it on demand and time is valuable.

Not that the rest of the industry has it right. The New York Times has seen its subscriber base grow, but revenues drop. Their new iPad app, actually stripped features and fails at the basics of user interface design compared to their old app- but, at least it doesn’t suffer from sudden page scrolls with a random touch- so all can be forgiven.

Here’s the saddest part- rumors have it that reporters are now graded by how many clicks they can get online. They’re on Facebook trolling and clickbaiting for links and comments, they are writing headlines that any respectable journalist would scoff at. And sadly, none of them know how to monetize it properly.

While Google and Facebook are becoming the richest content companies on the planet- without any professionals making content, the “professionals” are failing. Hell, even the fake news has more eyeballs these days- with or without the Russians.

Why? Because they broke one of David Ogilvy’s rules. Was Ogilvy a journalist? Nope- he was a hotel kitchen worker who became a legend in the advertising business building one of the largest and most successful ad agencies in the world. His rule: “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife” applies. We’re not interested in car crashes on 35, or local monkey sightings, we’re interested in actual news that affects us- how our leaders are performing, tax dollars invested, successful strategies paying off in business, opportunities to become more intelligent, better informed, well versed. Tips on making it in our city- and what will make our city better. Successful news outlets create a relationship between reader and story teller. This blog has about 2600 posts, and 26,000 comments. The refinement of the story, the enhancements of my readers, the community we’ve created, is what builds a stronger community resource- one that is actually of value.

I’ve built this site for the community- allowing others to have a platform. I’ve engaged, I’ve learned, I’ve listened, and over the years- I’ve built trust. So that when things are going wrong, people no longer call the Dayton Daily- they call me. It’s how I get tips that lead to stories like another pepper spraying of a restrained inmate or a school board members shaky residency (which lead to other revelations).

If Governor Cox could see what his skinflint offspring had done to the paper he worked so hard to build by his own hand (banks turned him down so many times, that when he built his offices at 4th and Ludlow he built it to look like a bank- it now sits at the middle of a mess caused by the city and his family) he’d rise from the grave and chisel his name off his tombstone.

The only reason to pay for the paper these days? Josh Sweigart , a reporter who seems to be the only one capable of single handily digging in and revealing the sad truths about our city that’s been left without the checks and balances a strong fourth estate is supposed to provide. Oh, and the obituaries, to find out who died (also often incomplete) and the bid notices. Other than that, it’s cliff notes of things you can find elsewhere- often with better writing and even a comments section that’s managed right- like, oh, that’s right- you’re reading it right now.

 

The DPS saga continues: Principals leaving

The agenda for last nights review session wasn’t quite complete. Many more resignations that were turned in on the 10th weren’t included. While the board was falling all over itself for their “New Digital Dashboard” for reviewing their slow improvement from failure to mediocrity, the question of how we’ll even open school in the fall isn’t mentioned.

Scratch one Megan Winston from the roster. Winston, one of their “star” principals, who took over from Tracy Mallory several years back (another “star” principal who is now working in Trotwood) resigned yesterday. And while Corr was meeting today with the remaining principals for their planning for next year this morning at 9:30 there are two in the audience ready to resign, just finalizing their contracts with other districts. Principals contracts actually run through July 31- so if you leave early, you may owe the district some money back. Of course, if DPS was smart- 1) they would work hard not to lose them- by paying better and having a contract in place, and 2) have a way to keep these valuable assets on to manage a building transition via a per diem wage.

Dr. Adil Baguirov was in fine form, boasting that the district was the first in Ohio to have such amazing technology, and possibly in the midwest. Taylor actually asked Dayton Daily news reporter Jeremy Kelley to write about this stunning achievement. Apparently, she missed the group MMS I sent to the board members and Kelley- of a link to an undated article from Columbus about their new data dashboard.

The boards internal auditor, Randall Harper, gave the paper another freebie bad news story about the Athletic Department having yet another loss of funds from athletic event collections. Board members asked how this happened- and the auditor blamed a failure to follow the procedures put in place. The Dayton Daily made inquiries on who what where and how much and got the dodgy responses we just love (he can’t hide it- so why they don’t answer truthfully is unbelievable). If this theft is related to anything relating to Dunbar athletics- it would and could have impacted the vote later- to rehire coach Powell. Whole thing was strange. In any company I work at- you steal money, you get a pink slip, not a nice request to write an IOU.

The funniest faux pas came from Dr. Sheila Burton while walking the board through the data dashboard. When looking at attendance numbers- she publicly questioned the work of The Ohlmann Group, who the board hired to do marketing and enrollment campaigns but came up short. Why this contract is still in place, if you are publicly going to slam your sub-contractor is beyond me. Full disclosure, my firm was the low bidder, and the highest ranking minority firm- and didn’t get the contract. This has been extensively covered on this site.

Last but not least, Board Member Sheila Taylor wanted to go into executive session over the Darran Powell hiring – and another personnel issue that she wanted separate but didn’t want to identify by name. Well, it’s too late in the meeting to remove an item and not be by name. If she had prepared properly, reading the agenda- she should have had the item removed from the agenda in advance. Despite all her years on the board, she still seemed lost at the basics of Robert’s rules of order- and the process to vote something separate. This is part of the reason this board is beyond help.

No discussion of the board negotiations, school start dates, or questions about the mass exodus of talent.

Just another day at the circus.

 

 

Dayton Daily news lays off Post and Kollars

In the ongoing effort to remove all institutional knowledge and reason for buying the paper, the geniuses at Cox Ohio decided that two senior staff were no longer needed.

As the pool of institutional knowledge shrinks- their ability to connect the dots on stories shrinks even more.

Confirmed by Jana Collier, Vice President of Content at Cox Media Group Ohio,  last Friday walking papers as of Dec 31 were handed to two senior staff: Connie Post- “Team leader- Entertainment” or the Life Section Editor/editorial page contributor or “Newsroom Production Editor at Dayton Daily News” depending on where you find it. Connie was known as the queen of recipe trials- aside from her other duties. She’s one of the few edumacated folks down in the puzzle palace- with a PhD in English from Texas Tech. The drawl is still evident. Her latest love has been photography- building a huge following on Facebook, where she also occasionally posts videos of her playing the piano. A real renaissance woman. Last time Cox tried to sever ties, she threatened them with a discrimination lawsuit according to sources– and with her no comment on her dismissal, another suit may be in the works.

UPDATE

9 Dec 2016- Post sent a certified letter stating she never threatened Cox with a lawsuit, and I have no foundation of a threat now. That information came from what I consider a very credible source. She “demands that I remove the post.” As a professional journalist- she should know better how these things work. There is no “removing” anything from the Internets- just corrections/redactions. Note- I did call her for comment, before I contacted Jana Collier. 

Post came to the Dayton Daily news back in July of 2000- giving her 16 year 6 months of experience.

Also ejected from the game was Brian Kollars. I’m sure he’d be bestowing “Knuckle head of the week” award on someone in the cox empire, if he was still the sports editor. From his official bio:

Brian Kollars has worked for the Dayton Daily News since 2003. He was named Investigative Team Editor in March 2012 and works with a staff of five to uncover government waste and dig into key topics in our community. He also collaborates with WHIO-TV on I-Team stories and writes a Sunday Sports column entitled “Second Thoughts.” Prior to his current assignment, Brian worked as Sports Editor for seven years. He edited many sections that won state and national awards and his writing resumé includes a Best of Gannett. Brian was born and raised in Yankton, S.D., and is a graduate of Valparaiso University. He enjoys coaching youth sports and lives in Oakwood with his wife and three children.

Source: Brian Kollars | www.mydaytondailynews.com

So besides getting rid of Brian, the Cox sisters also just ruined Christmas for his three kids.

Nice.

Looking at the staff listing on the DDn site is almost a laugh.

Bennish has been gone for months.Jessica Heffner, Dave Larsen, Tiffany Latta, Ken McCall, Allison Wichie and of course- former HMFIC Julia Wallace- all gone…but not forgotten on the DDn staff page.

And it’s been kept a secret- but both Meredith Moss and Tom Archdeacon aren’t really with the paper anymore- they’re just contract staffers now.

For some of us, Arch is the only reason we bother to pay for the damn thing.

For a company that’s “digital first” – they really need to learn how to keep basic information relevant.

When the newspaper of public record- isn’t

Screen shot of public records notices in Dayton Daily News

These are expensive ads.

Years back, A.J. Wagner looked at the amount of money the County was spending on required publication of public documents- court dockets, bid notices, sheriffs sales etc. and wondered if he couldn’t save money by buying ads in the freely distributed Dayton City Paper.

The local “newspaper” run by the billionaire Cox sisters cried foul. Apparently, the newsprint they print on is somehow more informative, more legal, regal and deserving of that public money.

They went to court. They won. The ads and the taxpayer money, went back to subsidizing our poor excuse for a paper.

This is something that could easily be replaced by a simple county wide website for public notices, that would cost less to run than what they spend in a day of the small print classified ads in the Dayton Daily.

Why am I railing about this today?

It’s been 4 weeks since my father, Stephen G. Esrati passed from this planet, and so far, not a mention of his demise in the death notices. He lived in Montgomery County, he died in Montgomery County at the Dayton VA hospice, and his body was sent to Greene County- to the Wright State School of Medicine. Not a word in the death notices, unless I really missed something. I picked up the death certificate over 3 weeks ago from the Reibold building. It’s on record.

Just not in our newspaper of record.

It’s time to save some money and stop pretending that the Dayton Daily news is doing us some kind of public service by publishing the page after page of legal notices. I’ve seen some days where the Sheriff’s sale pages take up more space than the Sunday Real Estate section. Why again are we paying for this?

For around $1500 a week, I could have a website that is searchable- with all the listings of public records, and print a 1000 booklets with the same info for those who want a printed copy. The Dayton Daily is probably taking in over $2500 a day on this.

Newspaper of record? Not in my book.