The Mirror

Hick Akron Beacon Journal Columnist Practices Yellow Journalism

Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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AKRON, OHIO – I should’ve expected as much.

Hick journalism in Akron, that is, at the hands of a columnist who doesn’t know his corn husk from his barn door.

I was in town last week to visit family and cover the first GOP debate in Cleveland. So, naturally, I picked up the Akron Beacon Journal because it is delivered to the house and placed daily on the kitchen counter.

Culture columnist Rich Heldenfels was offended because a HuffPost TV critic had wounded him with a minorly snide remark about Ohio. She wrote that Daily Show host Trevor Noah could have delivered a standup and it would have “gone over just fine at the Giggleshack anywhere in Ohio.”

Heldenfels made a big deal out of the slight in one of his columns.

So I wrote about his hurt feelings, and his delusion that Ohio is really like Paris or Monaco.

I mocked Heldenfels for acting like Ohio is some pristine travel spot or that it’s a place where you don’t see cows, horses and barns. You see all of those things, actually, right around the block from where I live. Unless of course you’re Heldenfels, who somehow missed all the homes on Yellow Creek Road dotted with barns.

A few days later, Heldenfels followed up with another fierce defense of Ohio — this time, he cherrypicked my quotes to fit his narrative.

“Apparently she didn’t like it here much,” he deduced upon reading the lede of my story and clearly nothing else.

Based on what? My belief that Ohio is not a boon for the tourist industry?

I wrote that Akron has its charms, which it does. And if you’re from here, you appreciate them and enjoy them when you return — the slow pace of life, no traffic, great pizza.

I also pointed out that if you’re not from here, there’s no huge reason to visit. To expand on that, don’t come unless you were born and raised here or have an otherwise good reason to visit, such as friends, family, cows, horses, or if you’re covering a Republican primary debate.

This is the sticking point that really lodged in Heldenfels’s craw.

But I’m not taking it back, Heldenfels. I stand by my remark and not because I don’t like it here or didn’t enjoy growing up here and making my way around town as a toddler. It’s because I don’t think people appreciate the subtleties of a place like Akron unless you grew up here or have family here.

Newsflash Heldenfels: Akron is not Laguna Beach, Miami or Manhattan.

As my editor said during our afternoon meeting, even the word “Ohio” sounds like an extended yawn.

“I hate Cleveland,” cracked The Daily Beast‘s Olivia Nuzzi on Twitter last week when she was visiting for the GOP debate. She was called a “slut” and a “whore” for her opinion.

The columnist didn’t call me those horrid names. But his words were enough to have my mother’s Mahjong ladies calling her at 7 a.m. to wonder what my remark was all about.

Wake up and smell the horses, Heldenfels.

Better still, get an editor.