Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Televised town hall airs Wednesday

Second discussion on race

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        There will be no panel of community leaders and media, fewer pre-recorded interviews, a smaller studio audience and, organizers hope, more honest dialogue about race. That's what viewers can expect when they tune in to Cincinnati's second televised town hall meeting on race since the April riots.

        Common Ground: True Colors will be telecast Wednesday from 8-9:30 p.m. on WCET (Ch. 48), from 8-9 p.m. on WKRC (Ch. 12) and simulcast on WNKU-FM (89.7) and WVXU-FM (91.7). It also will air on Northern Kentucky Cable Television and the Ohio News Network.

        The town hall is an effort of the Cincinnati Media Collaborative, a consortium of local media, includingthe Enquirer.

        In-studio discussions will involve racial profiling, the passage of Issue 5 and the court trials of Cincinnati police officers. There also will be an update on the Enquirer's “Neighbor to Neighbor” project.

        The program will be moderated by Eric Ellis, of Integrity Development and WKRC's Kit Andrews and Rob Braun.

        “One of the things we learned from the first broadcast is that people wanted to have an opportunity to spend more time talking and not have so many cut-aways and pre-recordings,” said Mr. Ellis. “So we are going to spend most of our time with Rob, Kit and myself facilitating discussion with the audience.”

        There will be 35 hand-picked, WCET studio audience members. The first Common Ground studio audience had 75.

        A team of WKRC reporters will check in from remote sites in Northern Kentucky and Westwood. And Cincinnati Community Action Now, a race relations task force, will help set up Watch Parties where attendees will view the program and participate in facilitated discussions.

Continuity important
               Susan Howarth, WCET president and CEO, said she hopes the community's energy for discussing Cincinnati's complex racial issues has not been sapped by the events of Sept. 11. The terrorist attacks took place just five days after the first Common Ground telecast aired.

        “I believe part of the challenge in dealing with diversity and race issues is that people's attention spans are very short,” Mr. Ellis added.

        “That's part of the problem and part of what causes us to deal with race issues for a few weeks and forget about them. They go underground; they don't go away. And they resurface when something else happens.

        “...But I think a lot of people are still looking for solutions.”


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