Who is saving our local history?

Submitted by lmcshane on Fri, 06/29/2007 - 14:29.

Cleveland Public Library and Cuyahoga County Public Library subscribe to a database Newsbank that receives a feed from the Plain Dealer.  The Plain Dealer articles are somewhat archived and indexed, but the Sun newspapers (published by PD) are not indexed, except by their own site (ditto PD for their article archive).  The Sun newspapers are not included in this feed.  For future historians and researchers, we need to push for better indexing and archiving of our local stories.  The microfilm is kept at CCPL and CPL but how will we find stories such as this one in the Westside Sun News?  Ohio City Chief hired by Stark.

I would not have found this story if I had not stopped by the Elizabeth Prentiss Center to drop off books today and happened to glance at a paper on their racks.


News vs. History

The PD and Sun use technology very poorly and that will not change. But, that is good... when intelligent life exists here and looks back at Cleveland+, years and decades from now, do we really want them looking to the PD or Sun for any indication of our culture or history? How embarrassing would it be to be judged by that? According to that official record of history, we choose to destroy arts and culture and the environment, sprawl and waste resources. We care most above all about and pray for someone we for some reason cherish as "King James", and we all yell "Yahoo" instead of hell no. No, please, find something else to archive and let the worst times in American and NEO history fade away with this dirty newsprint preaching wrong... we'll write the right history ourselves, in ways CPL can't imagine... get ready for the future. How is your archive of REALNEO, BFD and GCBL coming along?

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Institutional memory

For better or worse Norm, the Plain Dealer and the local media are the institutional memory for this region.  What happens when we go back to find a story? When the first reincarnation of the Cleveland Edition/Free Times went under, the online archive of their articles died with it.  The local Sun papers cover regional real estate deals that are never covered in the Plain Dealer.  The Plain Press and Lakewood Observer....the list goes on and on.  Will REALNEO survive into the next decade?   I hope so, but as you know, we are drowning in information, good and bad.  We are very lucky to have some quiet champions preserving history in this region.  But, what gets saved??

PD institutional memory of limited value without conditions

This is an important topic. Some of the writers of the PD do excellent work and create important knowledge of value to the world and for future understanding of the region and our times - Steven Litt is a great example. But much of the PD is just a shopper for advertisers to pimp their wares with the help of a supposedly legitimate news source... e.g. the current edition's hype of the iPhone... yawn.

In indexing the content from the PD and Sun for the future, it would be very easy to include in the structure indicators of the worth of the information -  perhaps the value of preserving the current mainstream news is to be able to interpret the failures of our region, America and the world over time, by analyzing the individual flaws of those controlling the people now, and the flaws of their words, and that is very worth archiving for future generations. Just remember that in "their" newspapers the Nazis were glorious, Indian killers were heroes, and slave owners were dominant business people. Nothing has changed.... today in the PD murdering 100,000 Iraqi citizens is good, lead poisoning doesn't matter, and global warming doesn't exist... just as the sponsors of the PD ordered. As for the Sun... do they still exist? Not in any 'hood I know of. .. but I'm sure it is a great source of insight on cats in trees in Westlake.

I will mention I was talking today with a friend who works at the PD who said the new editor is already shaking things up, at least regarding their appreciation of the value of the Internet... so for a cost you will have continuous and better access to their dubious content. As the PD uses that for commercial gain without regard for social interests, then that is the worst news for NEO of our lifetimes. Always remember the editors positions on the Breuer, Global Warming and Bush (and lead poisoning, race, sprawl, etc., etc.) as we consider the value of the paper, for good and bad, forever, and record that in your archives. So, right with the PD coverage of the Breuer disgrace should be REALNEO, and the writing of Tim and Gloria Ferris - one without the other is incomplete. So, I guess you folks at CPL had better get your act together preserving the news of every day, from the many sources of today, in ways you have not imagined in the past, or let go of what you thought mattered for so long, that no longer has real importance.

As for what actually is needed in archives is source documents. Evelyn just bought a copy of the auction catalog from the sale of the Van Sweringen Daisy Hills estate, in 1938, which tells us more about important people, times and decorations of our region then than any newspaper ever captured. Start a program to digitize such valuable information and we'll bring our material to you... don't think what matters is so easy to find as printed in one monopoly newspaper chain.

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PeeDee Select?

Like the NYTimes Select? I love it when I laugh out loud reading realneo...

Let's pick our favorite writers and guide Ms. Goldberg on what we migh pay to read....

Fill in the blanks or say who you like...

1. Steve Litt?

2. Karen Sandstrom?

3. Sheryl Harris?

4. Sam Fulwood?

5. Dan Tranberg?

Are there more?

Who do you love?

Who actually subscribes to the fishwrap to have it tossed on the lawn each day?

Defending their voices

I will say that I faithfully read Steven Litt, Karen Long, reviews by CPL's own Rollie  Welch and Ron Antonucci, Dan Tranberg, Sheryl Harris, Tom Breckenridge, John Funke, James McCarty (for the real news--birding updates!) Connie Schultz, and to understand the other side Kevin O'Brien.  And, I will say that I really think that Sam Fulwood got the shaft and I am afraid for what the PD will do to Litt for speaking up on the Breuer Building.

PD deselect... not institutional memory but corporate profit

First off, the PD is not an "institution" but the monopoly outlet of a corporate conglomerate, which most people in the world understand exists for no reason but profit for shareholders.

I'm friends with enough people at the PD to not mention names of people I "like" there, to keep them from getting harassed by the powerbase. But, in the big scheme of things, the PD writer who really made me love reading any paper was Tom Brazaitas, RIP... so missed here.

I'd say the three living writers there I have been most impressed with over time are Steven Litt, for intelligent coverage and balls-in-face-of-the-establishment, Connie Schultz, for accomplishment and personal honesty, and Dick Feagler, for showing the world can teach an old dog new tricks, like caring about the environment, war, killing, and our own role in the destruction of this planet, RIP.

For raw entertainment, special mentions go to the outrageously-right publishers and editors and especially "what-global-warming... my kids have God" Kevin O'Brien and "God hates thugs but loves athletes" Regina Brett for showing the real world some other people need to pray.

I'll close with a quote from O'Brien: "Even the best computer model can prove nothing", being only some of the most ignorant words he has written and I suggest a computer analysis of the writing of Kevin O'Brien would determine he of a wretched minority and is out of touch with reality. And that is the PD: some good... some out of touch with reality.

As a last aside... I notice Tom Brazaitis is only remembered in the online, free PD world in a small tribute (which is still so revealing). Do you at the CPL have access to anything more he wrote for the PD or Cleveland Press over his many decades dedicated to making this a better community and world? Ultimately, it is not the PD that matters but the individuals there, for as long as they are there, and as they venture elsewhere, for good and bad. Tom was their best ever, that I have known!

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They shall be challenged to their cores

While I don't really bother "reading" Brett and O'Brien, I seem to recall them writing about shipping their kids off to college or some such, recently. It will be very interesting to see how these writers mature under the influence of their maturing children, as they enter the real world. Will the next generation too see all the answers to the ills of their parents' world in prayer, or in making change. And, will they, in making change, change their parents. I certainly hope so. Rising Bretts and O'Briens, feel free to make change here and inform your parents to the ways of the world they have left you to save!

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Norm and Susan, don't worry-- the library profession will take care of all your requests.  Tomorrow. Notice the sarcasm.  Actually, we are all paralyzed/immobilized by the onslaught.  Some of us are worse than others.  JSTOR--I know, so give me a call, anytime!

news story link will soon be blank page

I have learned to title the stories I link with their newpaper titles so that when they become blank pages, I can search for them in the CPL database and links library. I recommend it. That story by Karen Sandstrom will be a blank page in a few short weeks. Some will not know that they do not have to pay the older than 14 day archives at the PD to read it. With the titled, one can search.

I could use some help gaining access to Jstor. Any recommendations there, Librarian Laura?

Institutional Memory defined

From Wikipedia:

Institutional memory is a collective of facts, concepts, experiences and know-how held by a group of people. As it transcends the individual, it requires the ongoing transmission of these memories between members of this group. Elements of institutional memory may be found in corporations, professional groups, government bodies, religious groups, academic collaborations and by extension in entire cultures.

Institutional memory may be encouraged to preserve a group's ideology or way of work. Conversely, institutional memory may be ingrained to the point that it becomes hard to challenge if something is found to contradict that which was previously thought to have been correct.

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Saving our local history...

There is one article in the PD today,"Pulling memories from the fog", about a new Hospice program, "Peaceful and Proud," to better understand the needs of veterans who are nearing the end of their lives. While there is no reason to archive this story, the Hospice program will create valuable insight to archive. The Intergenerational School is working on similar projects to capture stories... these should be archived. Where and how, I don't know.

Also of related interest, in today's PD, is a book review of "Age of Betrayal" by Tom Feran which offers fresh insight on our region and a name we all know well - Hanna - who is quoted as "famous for saying "All questions in a democracy [are] questions of money," also said, "You can hire half of the people of the United States to shoot down the other half if necessary, and we've got the money to hire them"."

This is our legacy and reality today, and a foundation for understanding our community past and present, and a very different perspective than one may get looking at the many buildings with the Hanna name. Bad people of the past celebrated in the present. How to we collect the source information to understand the dynamics of our society? Where should it be archived. How should it be accessed?

Consider... from Groundswell: "INSIGHTS: Growth Spurts in Cities":

Mark Hanna of Cleveland made McKinley President, and himself Senator. Hanna enjoyed support from the richest American, Clevelander John D. Rockefeller, and from Cincinnati bosses Cox and Foraker, but could not control his own front yard because Johnson did (Russell, p.120). Hanna routinely maligned Johnson, defining him as a “socialist-anarchist-nihilist.” Socialism was the equivalent of anarchism, said Hanna, and it was an anarchist who had shot McKinley, so there. Johnson, a native southerner, was a “carpetbagger followed by a train of all the howling vagrants of Ohio.”

It went beyond name-calling, and beyond Hanna. “In Cleveland, as in these other (Ohio) cities, there was organized as if by instinct a sympathetic, political-financial-social group whose power and influence made itself known the moment it was touched…” (Hauser in Preface to Johnson, 1911, p. xxii.)

I would suggest the same political-financial-social group has ruined NEO for the past century and a half and will continue to do so until we have more Johnsons. New Johnsons will come from knowing our past Johnson, and Hannas, and the new Johnsons challenging new Hannas. To know requires deep digging, at sources often hard to find and not currently available to the public on-line.

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Wow am I depressed. In consideration of your concern about archiving the PD and Sun Press I did some digging around about the PD, Newhouse, and the evil of that world. What a fucked up world we live in... perhaps human existence is meaningless.

Archive these and let CPL visitors buy a PD or Sun...

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Don't thread on me

Another thread worth treading through.  Much to say on these posts but I've a gauntlet of key meetings after a doctor's appointment geared toward bringing immediate value to our Star project.  Keep up the great work, and let's all showcase our brilliance at Ingenuity in 18 - RealNEO stars Joe Stanley and Zebra Mussel are already in the mix - any other volunteers?

The latest scoop - let's collaborate and solute toward a succulent sexy and synergistic solution.


Open Access Self Archiving Mandates