REALNEO: What Is and What Should Be?

Submitted by Jeff Schuler on Fri, 06/19/2009 - 14:15.
lmcshane suggested a possible funding opportunity for REALNEO: a New Voices Grant through J-Lab. (Referred through The Appalachian Independent: Our Grant.)

I wonder what our ask would be?

If we're going to ask for money, we need a focused proposal.
To make such a proposal, we need some agreement on what our goals are.
To establish goals, we need some agreement on What is and What should be REALNEO.

Susan Miller says REALNEO is her scrapbook.
Norm Roulet says it's a far-ranging county/corporate local food project.
Jeff Buster says it's a replacement for the PD.
(Forgive my simplification for discussion's sake.)

To me it's all of those, as well as an idea incubator-launchpad, a tool for engaging NEO citizenry, and an experiment in cooperative decision-making.

What's REALNEO to you?

Ideas like the Citizen Dashboard, Put it On The Ballot, and Norm's local food agenda are just a few examples of projects that have used REALNEO's community conversation as a launchpad, a laboratory, a vetting area, a momentum builder.

How about calling REALNEO / REAL.Coop what it is: a means for birthing, nurturing, examining, and launching socially-minded ideas?

REALNEO remains Mother REALNEO, with her many biological children, adoptees, nieces, nephews. The news stays the news, the conversation continues, ideas form and bubble upward~outward.

What is your view of -- and vision for -- REALNEO the site, the organization, the happening? How is it more than this? How is it not this? Am I barking up the wrong tree trying to sift out a common ground and mission?

Nicely stated... to me, all that and more!

Our proposal to the county includes funding to figure all that out - to be honest, it is an expensive and time consuming process to define, which we must do. I'll post what I've proposed to the county, which is very broad, and we can see where we have funding from that to address our internal challenges, as well as launch many great new iniiatives... and I LOVE the launchpad illustrative!

The budget I propose includes funding for internal planning, legel, workshops, etc... it will take such resources to work through the legal, organizational and conceptual innovations required for us to be what we may be, which doesn't exist anywhere today. Lawyers don't give that kind of time away for free... neither do planners, facilitators, meeting organizers, etc... and we are now a large organization and growing rapidly.

Disrupt IT

a great work of public art

I was describing REALNEO to someone who had just recently been exposed to the community, and he was confused. I explained I first and foremost consider REALNEO a great work of public art.

He said, "I can see that".

Disrupt IT


  It will be interesting to see how our access to news information is tailored in the next couple of months, years (?).

I do appreciate Mayor Brewer's comment in response to the Plain Dealer article today--I also wonder how libraries will figure into future information access and distribution.  We will have to carefully re-define REALNEO.


Mayor Brewer responds to Terry Egger


The following is a copy of Mayor Brewer's comment regarding why he feels the PD has failed Cleveland.   I feel much the same way - and there are many, many unsold copies of the PD at Dave's Market many Sunday's.   I will post the photos I have taken of those un-sold copies late in the day. 
Mr. Egger quotes Scarborough "Research", a Nielson company, suggesting that 86% of adults in the NEO market read a newspaper daily - 86%  is not believable Mr. Egger.   
Mr. Egger is on the private "opportunity corridor" wanna-be development committee.   His participation on the "committee" is a sign that the Dirty Dealer is corrupt - no editor with ethics would both participate on such a committe while simultaneously allowing their paper to editorialize for the rotten project.
Posted by mayorbrewer on 06/21/09 at 6:59AM
Mr. Terry Egger didn't live in Cleveland when the City was served by two daily newspapers: one being the Plain Dealer the second being the Cleveland Press under Herb Kamm and even Louis B. Seltzer. He wasn't here when the legendary William O. Walker published a very vibrant Call & Post.
He didn't live here when reporters from all three newspapers spent as much time on the streets and "in" the community getting to know people, and sharing their insights with each newspaper's readers about the events that were taking place among them. He wasn't here when the Sun newspaper chain wasn't owned by the Plain Dealer.
Every week both of the city's daily newspapers would assign reporters to cover Cleveland Council meetings, Cleveland school board meetings, meetings of the county commissioners, or those held by the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority and other institutions of great political, economic and social importance to our town.
Readers got to know the leaders and business of each institution through the pages of the newspapers that covered them. Cleveland council meetings, particularly under the leadership of George Forbes and James Stanton, often made the front pages and readers bought the Plain Dealer, the Cleveland Press and the Call & Post to evaluate the differences between the stories, which expanded rather than limited their knowledge. This reality kept editors and reporters from each newspaper sharp and also honest. Readers believed they were informed rather than manipulated.
There was a "fun" element to the newspapers as old-fashioned "gossip" columnists like Harriet Peters of the Cleveland Press and the Plain Dealer's Mary "Mary" Strassmeyer covered the social scene. Everyone wanted to be "in" their columns.
The competition was also good for business as advertisers had choices. Choice kept advertising prices low. The lower advertising prices were affordable to new or small businesses, which gave them the opportunity to grow and buy larger advertisements as they grew.
I remember when Belkins was a clothing store at Forest Hills Shopping Center in East Cleveland before they got into concert promotions. I remember when Spitzer Ford was located at Euclid & Superior, across the street from the Superior Rapid Station in East Cleveland. I remember when Diamond's men's clothing store was located in Forest Hills Shopping Center in East Cleveland before the Diamond family expanded their business to a variety of area malls. There are those Plain Dealer readers with even longer memories than mine, but my point is simple. Competition was good for the newspaper business and good for business overall in Cuyahoga County and the region.
Joseph Cole, my boss at the Cleveland Press when I was a reporter there in 1981, met three times with Plain Dealer owner S.I. Newhouse to try and convince him to enter a joint operating agreement that would have helped each newspaper lower its production and distribution costs. Mr. Cole knew the nature of the labor unions was that the more each individual union employee got in raises and benefits, the less there would be to invest in the business. The employees didn't realize that the more they received in earnings and benefits, they'd be putting their co-workers and eventually themselves out of jobs. I was shocked when I went to work for the Cleveland Press and learned that I couldn't use my one of my three cameras to take a picture of the subject of a story because it would violate the labor agreement that separated the duties of reporters and photographers. Mr. Newhouse said no to Mr. Cole's proposal. The Cleveland Press was in trouble. Mr. Newhouse smelled blood. He wanted a monopoly and now the company he founded has it.
Daily newspapers are struggling all over America, but yet business owners are still advertising. They're just not advertising in the Plain Dealer. People are still reading. They're just not tied to the Plain Dealer. Sure your numbers show that the newspaper has 1.3 million readers, but does it really? Your drivers are picking up truckloads of newspapers every week at the newsstands, and the online "reader" can't be evaluated by the "click" of a mouse, especially when one person can "click" more than once a day.
When I was publishing one of the 12 newspapers I owned in the mid-1980's I would count the copies left at each newsstand by the Plain Dealer at some of the stores where my newspaper was distributed. I also examined the Plain Dealer's home east and west side home delivery figures. One of my newspapers sold twice as many copies as the Plain Dealer at each location because the news in it was relevant to the community it served.
There were about 40,000 home delivered newspaper's on Cleveland's west side and about 11,000 on the east side. The Plain Dealer had news boxes all over Cleveland's west side, but few on the east side. Why? Relevancy.
The Plain Dealer - especially since William Woestendiek left as Editor and Thomas Vail stop being publisher - has not embraced diversity in its newsroom and on its news pages at the same level as it once did. Cleveland is no longer the city it once was and the Plain Dealer has not kept up with the area's demographic changes. There is a large population of potential readers in this area who just do not trust the Plain Dealer, and its recent lopsided coverage of the so-called Cuyahoga County government "reform" plan is the most example of why the newspaper isn't trusted.
Mr. Egger, I met with you several months ago to offer my insights into how the Plain Dealer could be more "revelant" to its readers and earn their trust. I told you that the newspaper diminishes its credibility when the editorial page's editors, as an example, endorse politicians like Bay Village Mayor Debbie Sutherland for commissioner over Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones, whose name hasn't even come close to surfacing in the county corruption scandal. That diminished credibility is why many of us left and don't buy the Plain Dealer. We just don't feel it's connected or truly interested in the community in which we live.
I believe in newspapers and despite my concerns about the Plain Dealer's coverage, I don't want the newspaper to die. It's too valuable an institution for that to happen.
I've taken you on a walk down memory lane because on that walk are what I believe are the solutions to the Plain Dealer's survival.
You weren't here when the Plain Dealer was a true "local" newspaper, and was not concentrating its editorial energy on being "regional." I believe the Plain Dealer's "regional" business model is the real impetus behind its push to regionalize county government. It's easier to cover one government than to provide quality coverage to the 56 local communities that exist in Cuyahoga County. From the Plain Dealer's perspective that makes sense. From my perspective as an elected official and Cuyahoga County resident, that model is downright dangerous.
The newspaper, however, should become "more local." Local also means embracing real "diversity." Get your reporters out of the office and into the streets. Since many are not from the Cleveland area and have no real sense of our history, they've got to get to know people and learn the difference between whom they can trust and who they can't as sources. Reporters can't cover meetings or events from the desk by asking their sources "what happened?" With all due respect, that's absolute nonsense. They've got to get out into the streets.
The "local" model has to be defined by your editor, and I'm not sure that's happened yet with your current editorial leadership. I'll wait to see Editor Susan Goldberg's new changes tomorrow and I'll keep an open mind.
The Honorable Eric J. Brewer, Mayor
City of East Cleveland
The Home of John D. Rockefeller - The World's First Billionaire


Ohio Budget released Library Budget axed


Your Library needs your help! Governor Strickland has proposed a 50% reduction in state funding for Ohio's public libraries. This drastic proposal, if adopted by the state legislature, will devastate public library service in Ohio.  

Late Friday evening, the Governor proposed a state budget which would cut the Public Library Fund by 50% from the previous budget.   Since the legislature must pass the budget bill, PLEASE make a concerted effort with local libraries and libraries across the state to convince our legislators that reducing library funding is not the answer.

During this time of economic distress, more people than ever are turning to their public libraries for services like career counseling, computer training, internet access, financial literacy, health information and more!

Please contact your state legislators today and tell them how much the Library means to you, your family and friends.

Most representatives email addresses follow this format:

senatorsmith [at] maild [dot] sen [dot] state [dot] oh [dot] us

NEED help?!  Call 216-623-6920 or any local library system.  Please make the call today.