There was no shortage of breaking news last Wednesday. Scooter Libby, the former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney and grown man who actually went by the name Scooter, was sentenced to prison. Lt. Gov Lee Fisher was in hot water for hiring his sister-in-law to the Ohio Lottery Commission – following disclosures that he’d also hired the wife of the mayor of Columbus for a no-show job. And Cleveland lost its bid to host the 2011 Special Olympics.
Yet at The Plain Dealer
, known for its riveting reports on bird watching and alpacas, the story to make the top of page A1 was an article about yuppies who can’t fit their hybrid cars into their parking spots.
“Beau Daane is miffed that the parking space that comes with his $254,000 condo at Stonebridge Towers fails to meet Cleveland’s minimum width requirements and leaves him little room to get in and out of his Toyota Prius,” read the article. The story even featured an infograph of Daane’s Prius, with lines showing exactly how much room he has to open his doors.
It’s not that yuppies aren’t a constituency worth protecting. After all, Daane’s one of approximately five who still actually come to downtown for reasons other than drinking, buying crack, or looking to kidnap somebody. So when he says he “will be happy to move back to the suburbs,” it’s newsworthy. Yet the placement of the article still begs the question: Wasn’t there anything more important happening?
“I think the front page needs to be a mix of important and interesting,” says new PD
Editor Susan Goldberg.
Observe what Goldberg had to work with. At a downtown parking lot, a “village” of homeless people living in tents were told by the city of Cleveland that they had to be out in five days. The city needs the lot to accommodate parking for an upcoming U.S. Women’s Soccer game. “Everywhere we go, they run us out,” said one homeless man in a story that got pushed back to the Metro section.
Poverty, desperation, the smell of rock soup in the morning – not exactly what you want to wash your orange juice down with. The real story was just down the street, where condo owner Carl Kohnhorst was being deprived of an unalienable yuppie right: the SUV.
“I used to have a Jeep Liberty and I had to sell it because I couldn’t maneuver it without it being destroyed,” he told the paper.
Maybe the homeless would be willing to trade spots. – Jared Klaus