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John Kiesewetter on the world of local and national TV

Senior Entertainment Reporter John Kiesewetter has been covering TV and media issues for 20 years. After joining the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1975 as a summer intern, he worked as a county government and suburban reporter; assistant city editor and suburban editor; and features editor supervising the Life section. He has a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

I-Team Reporter Laure Quinlivan Out At Ch. 9

Here's some Breaking News you probably won't see on Channel 9: Award-winning investigative reporter Laure Quinlivan will leave the station after her final two stories air Tuesday and Wednesday on Channel 9.

Quinlivan, one of the most honored TV reporters in Cincinnati history, was told in October her contract would not be renewed because the station is "cutting costs," she says. Earlier this year, Channel 9 cut loose Michael Flannery and Brian Patrick in budget moves.

"I don't know what I want to say about (leaving), except that I've had a good run at Channel 9 news," says Quinlivan, who is in her 40s.

Quinlivan has won two prestigious Peabody Awards, the Alfred duPont Columbia silver baton, the Walter Cronkite Award for Political Reporting, two Society of Professional Journalists Awards for public service, an Investigative Reporters and Editors award and 15 Emmys.

Hired in 1995, her 13 years are the longest of any past or present member of the Channel 9's investigative "I-Team." Channel 9 created the unit after anchor Pat Minarcin's 1987 investigation exposed Donald Harvey as a Drake Hospital serial killer, which also won a Peabody.

Bill Fee, Channel 9 vice president and general manager, declined to comment. "I'm not prepared to give any comment at this point," he says.

For her last two stories, Quinlivan returns to two favorite topics: Over-the-Rhine development (6 p.m. Tuesday) and Dean Gillispie (11 p.m. Wednesday). She says the Dayton-area man was wrongfully convicted for kidnapping and raping three women in 1988.

Quinlivan won a Peabody Award for her one-hour 2001 documentary called "Visions of Vine Street." Her "New Visions of Vine Street" last year won a 2006 Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. She also won Peabody and duPont awards for her investigation into Paul Brown Stadium construction problems.

Quinlivan has been reporting on Gillispie since 1999, eight years after he went to prison. Recently former Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro joined with the University of Cincinnati-based Ohio Innocent Project on the Gillispie case.

"I really wanted to finish up with these two, because they mean so much to me," she says. "I think this is a great way to go out."

Quinlivan lives in Mount Lookout with her daughter, 13, and son, 7 months. The Toledo native and Miami University graduate says she was not concerned about her contract renewal when she returned from maternity leave in August. She moved to Cincinnati almost 13 years ago from Washington D.C. because she wanted to raise her daughter here, and be close to family.

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I have a new baby, and great friends here, and a lot of passion for this city," she says. "I'm exploring options. I could leave town and continue investigative reporting, but that’s not my first choice. I like it here."

Also at question is what happens to the I-Team? The website lists only two reporters, Quinlivan and Hagit Limor. Quinlivan says three photographer-producers are assigned to the I-Team: Phil Drexler, Tony Mirones and former sports photographer Sean Dunster.

Will we see more and more short-form "investigations" by anchors Clyde Gray, Brendan Keefe and Bernard Watson? Will another station in town hire her? (She doesn't have a non-compete, she says, so she could jump to another station in January.) Is this the end of an era for the I-Team as we've known it?


at 11/26/2007 4:35 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a lot easier and cheaper to cover auto accidents and shootings...and that pretty much sums up local TV news.

at 11/26/2007 4:47 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to be too cynical, but it sure looks like Channel 9 is going with style over substance.

They love to trumpet the fact that they're the only local station to broadcast in high definition, which makes their news LOOK good -- but they must not think it's important to offer much that's truly different ON their news broadcasts. Sad to see their excellent investigative unit dismantled, bit by bit.

at 11/26/2007 5:38 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't care how many awards Quinlivan has stacked up. She was an average writer and did a terrible job "voicing" her stories.

Try as she might, the viewer could always tell she was reading a script, not talking to them.

at 11/26/2007 7:25 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved Quinlivan and I loved her writing and her voicing.
So there!

at 11/26/2007 8:30 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like maybe they spent too much money for HD equipment to be able to afford to pay people. The HD adds little value to local news, especially when it is just the studio shots... LAME.

at 11/26/2007 10:25 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

i would like to see her a wxixfox19 they need an investigative unit.......... and whats the story on fox19s chief meteorologist they took the posting off of their website

at 11/26/2007 11:26 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post--the auto accidents and deadly fires are covered by all TV bands, and when 'motor mouths' with wind blown hair stand 3 blocks away from the site, who cares what they are reporting, it will be on every channel.
But Quinlivan was excellent in reporting, and she seems to be able to get to the bottom of much of the investigation
and hope she is picked up by a competitor.

at 11/27/2007 4:22 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Channel 5 was smart, they would snag her up ASAP..

1 problem with 5 (among many others) is credibility

at 11/27/2007 9:05 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems ironic that the station that "is on my side" doesn't have the $$$ to investigate much of anything... I am just waiting for John Matarese to get the axe...

at 11/27/2007 9:45 AM Anonymous Mike said...

It's too bad that they are cutting her. I do hope that another station pick her up. Regarding Matarese - I saw one of his reports on a Cleveland New Station - I didn't realize his reports were syndicated. If that's the case, I'm sure Channel 9 will not cut him.

at 11/27/2007 9:49 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found Quinlavin's work extremely biased. She seemed to use the the medium as a way to work through her personal problems and as a pulpit to parade her own ideology. Never a good idea. -Thinker

at 11/27/2007 1:21 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

"says Quinlivan, who is in her 40s" ... perhaps this is an age discrimination lawsuit in the making?

at 11/27/2007 2:48 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Matarese's reports do appear on other TV stations around the country. I hope they don't let him go, he's really good at responding to e-mails!

at 11/27/2007 2:53 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

at 11/26/2007 7:25 PM Anonymous said...
I loved Quinlivan and I loved her writing and her voicing.
So there!

Quinlivan, you are not suppose to write about your self here!

at 11/28/2007 7:09 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon at 9:49 a.m. wrote:

"I found Quinlavin's work extremely biased. She seemed to use the the medium as a way to work through her personal problems and as a pulpit to parade her own ideology. Never a good idea. -Thinker"

This is ABSOLUTELY the truth.

I must remain anonymous here, but the inside story here is that Laure was difficult to work with, ideological, and did stories too often out of personal animus or bias, and rarely about the public good.

There was a story about the jury coordinator in Hamilton County some time ago that caused particular angst for the news station. The story was about a pay raise by a government employee. Is that really news? Is that investigative reporting? As I recall the story, a long-standing employee got a larger raise than his co-workers because his bosses really appreciated his innovative and good work. Sounds like some disgruntled government bureaucrats wanted an "I-Team" story. Laure gave them that. It was a low-point for that once proud team of reporters.

Laure's game got old. This isn't about budget cuts or HD. It's hubris--plain and simple.

I hope Laure learns her lesson.

at 11/28/2007 11:29 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Local television news is and has been driven by purely monetary interests for years.

It isn't about news, it's about money.

Who among you actually thinks you're getting a full serving of news in your community? You are being spoon fed a carefully selected diet of low-calorie information, designed not to make you think, but to make sure your sensibilities aren't offended. A little warm and fuzzy here, a little police and fire tickle there, and presto, it smells like news. In reality you're getting mostly police blotter, corporate-generated, easy-to-cover low-hanging-fruit "news" presented solely to generate revenues for a publicly traded corporation. Sometimes they deliver something of value, most often, they waste your time with a carefully crafted illusion of news.

Quinlivan? She's a big girl. Anyone in the news business that long must realize they are bit players in a modern commercial theater. It's about the "gate", not about the stories.

Overall, local TV news will change, or disappear as we know it. As it is, it's slipping into obscurity, with fewer viewers and fewer ad dollars directed at them. They are no longer the only news player in the neighborhood, and advertisers know this. Interestingly, this is the very phenomena that pushes stations to cut expensive non-anchor employees. Research shows viewers connect with the anchors, not the reporters.

Overall, it's a business model that's basically "information porn" - the 'illusion' of relationship, the 'illusion' of substance. Fun perhaps, but no substitute for the real thing.

The internet, thank God, has come along to offer more choices and depth. It is the beginning of the end to the reign of local media gatekeepers. A new model of journalism -- citizen enabled -- is slowly emerging, with local news outlets, print and broadcast, scrambling to figure out a way to dominate it and monetize it. It's doubtful they will.

And that's a good thing.

AK Anderson, Cleves

"The important question to ask when the world is burning, is what's being born."

at 11/28/2007 12:26 PM Anonymous Steve F said...

I have known and worked reporters from Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus. As a former police officer, I was lucky to develop some great relationships with some reporters. I knew the ones I could trust and the ones that cared only about sensationalism and themselves. Some I used as much as they used me; I got my message out and they got the news. Probably the most honest and caring reporter I worked with was Laure Quinlivan. She was a thorough investigator and carried about the truth. Working in an area of criminals, cops, attorneys, politicians, egos, smoking mirrors and self indulging personalities, with Laure, what you saw was what you got. I always knew where she stood.
It appears as if the glitz and glamor and competitiveness of the news business has no room for the type of hard work, honesty and integrity that Laure brought to her job. I hope another local station will pick her up and that someday, Channel 9 understands what they lost.

at 11/28/2007 3:49 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome post, AK. You hit the nail on the head.

You'd be amazed at how some news directors go ballistic at one email (from anyone) whose aforementioned "sensibilities" have been offended.

Of course, let an anchor or reporter breathe the wrong way on air - and these people would be offended. Yet we all know that the news director will always side with their people. Right? ;)

at 11/29/2007 12:27 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

TV 9 should recruit former TV 5 investigative guy Tom Sussi. I hear he's in Orlando kicking butt, but still loves the Nasty! He'd be cheaper than Laurie Q, too.

at 11/29/2007 11:53 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sussi is kicking BUTT and kicking the Hearst station in Orlando, even though they don't go head to head. Sussi worked for the Hearst station in Cincy and decided they should part ways. Good move WLWT.

at 11/29/2007 1:26 PM Blogger Kevin LeMaster said...

Regardless of what people think about Quinlivan's reporting style, what she's been doing is exactly the kind of thing that local news should do.

The loss of this kind of reporting just means more style, and less substance.

I recommend not watching local news anymore. I quit watching it quite some time ago, and I don't feel as if I've missed anything.

at 11/30/2007 5:43 PM Anonymous Larry said...

I was there when Minarcin and others put the Donald Harvey story on the air. I saw the ratings success it brought Channel 9... I watched them build the EyeTeam (The name when it was still a CBS affiliate)... Most of the stories they did were great... check out the "Made in America" stories that were eventually woven into a 60 minutes piece. Or the "Judge is a Slumlord" stories. I think you can find them online still.
There was a series on city road crews who would spend hours in a chili joint in Queensgate before getting in their trucks and driving around IGNORING the pot holes they were paid to fill.

This is what a local news operation is SUPPOSED to do.

I didn't know Laure, I left before she arrived, but if Channel 9 IS dismantling the I-Team it's a huge mistake. Yes, those reports are costly... (I remember the half-serious jokes about the EyeTeam stories paying to panal the conference room of Channel 9's outside law was very ritzy panaling) but they are what distinguishes a run of the mill tv news show from a show viewers are drawn to watch.

Mr. Fee should know this... I believe he was there when 9's ratings shot up right after the Donald Harvey story.

at 12/19/2007 11:26 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frankly, I believe most people are tiring of "just news & sports * weather" coverage and overall programming from all local stations. As an area, we are more than local news and sports coverage, just a few hours per day. Where are the local programs of old...such as live programming, variety programs and other specials. These types of programs would draw regionally and national talent. For example, if we had a "Bob Braun Show" or other variety programming on the air, the benefit would be huge. The Bob Braun Show had the likes of Bob Hope and other hational acts and talent, as they make their appearances at local venues (concerts etc.) Half the time, we don't know when acts come to town until they are already gone. Even the Osmonds are considering a national variety show again. Maybe Cincinnati could have it once again!

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