by Kyle Swenson
It's day one in the Trial of the Century — at least the local one not featuring a serial killer. All kidding aside, today former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora steps into a federal courthouse in Akron to face charges that he was the dark star anchoring a system of kickback and corruption orbited by county employees, wannabe tough guys, local contractors, and the occasional hooker — most of whom have now turned state's witness against the former political Big Sword. Day one will mostly be filled up with jury selection, pretty mundane stuff; the only real news coming up from Akron is that Dimora has freed his face from his trademark beard and mustache!
Probably the group of people most eagerly awaiting today are us local media types. This is the Super Bowl for reporters, and everyone involved — from the Plain Dealer to the TV stations — was gearing up to lean hard on new media for the coverage. If the playbook from the Anthony Sowell trial was any clue, this meant the outlets were going to sideline experienced, full-salaries-and-benefits, grown-ass newsroom employees with the sole task of sending out 140-character updates throughout the proceedings over Twitter. The results are a play-by-play jammed up by meaningless trivia, like reading through a season of Law & Order scripts delivered line by line on fortune cookie papers. But no cookie.
Well, the Twitter updates won't happen. This week, Judge Sara Lioi, who's already shown good judgment in weighing the value of Cleveland's media outlets, set in stone rules for covering the Dimora trial that forbade live blogging or tweets. As with most federal cases, no video cameras or recorders will be allowed in the room as well.
According to an article in the Plain Dealer, the Plain Dealer really went to bat to have their battery of tweeters and live bloggers in the court room, even bringing in legal counsel to discuss the matter with Lioi. Obviously, the paper of record realizes how important it is to keep readers posted on whether Jimmy is wearing his Men's Warehouse blue suit with the cheese danish stain on the lapel or Men's Warehouse blue suit marked with Turducken on the left pant leg. At least . . . we hope that's turducken . . .
We're not sure how mainstream media types are going to re-calibrate. Jesus, worse case scenario, this means reporters are going to have to sit in the court or media room all day, diligently listen to testimony and evidence, digest the info on the fly and by the dinner time cobble together some kind of factually accurate and possibly insightful summary of the day. Damnit . . .