What about all that negative coverage

Like so many others, those of us who spend the most time working on the Heights Observer are weary of the superficial and negative coverage our community seems to get from Sun News, Cleveland.com and the Plain Dealer.

We’re tired of their police blotter obsession and the habit of putting every news item into the context of decline.

In October, a few local businesses declared they were done doing business with the Plain Dealer and Northeast Ohio Media Group (which controls Sun News and Cleveland.com). But there’s a sense of hopelessness in the gesture. “I don’t subscribe to it at home, I don’t read it online and I don't advertise in it," one business owner told me. "What more can I do if their business model depends on running us down?”

People have also asked what the Heights Observer and FutureHeights are going to do about it. That, as usual, depends on you.

The Heights Observer is much smaller than the PD/NEOMG. We operate differently with a different mission and we serve only two municipalities. Yet we are undeniably in the same industry, competing for revenue from some of the same sources. Anything we might say or do would likely be viewed in that competitive context and dismissed.

For local businesses we provide an affordable advertising alternative, and we’ve been rewarded for the effort with more than 100 local advertisers in this issue alone. We’re also part of a fledgling network of similar projects, so we can offer hyperlocal advertising opportunities in a few other communities too. But we can't provide blanket access to readers across Northeast Ohio that many businesses need.

If we can’t reason with them, and we can’t replace them, what can we do?

We can take control of our own narrative. We can provide a record of the community we know this to be. We can talk about the things that make us hopeful and move us forward—proudly­ sharing the good stuff and tackling the difficult stuff in a way that isn’t demoralizing and destructive.

That’s where you come in. If you believe the PD/NEOMG is getting our story wrong, you have the power to set it right by contributing to the Heights Observer. The hundreds of people who do are the magic ingredient that makes us different.

The PD/NEOMG pays a couple mercenaries to speed through town each week, grabbing crime reports and interpreting events they haven’t taken time to understand.

You, on the other hand, are wholly invested, taking the trouble to submit articles simply because you care.

The Observer is an empty vessel, and each month this community decides to fill it with stories about people and organizations doing things that make Cleveland Heights and University Heights better.

Our biggest critics complain the Observer is too positive and not adversarial enough. It may be true, but if so, it’s not by design or policy. It’s because that’s the product this community has chosen to create—the portrait of what this community really is.

That alone is a pretty remarkable story. If the Observer didn't tell it, who would? 

Bob Rosenbaum

Cleveland Heights resident Bob Rosenbaum is co-chairman of the Heights Observer's advisory committee, and is responsible for its advertising sales and market development.

Read More on Opening the Observer
Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 3:00 PM, 12.01.2014