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Jimmy Dimora trial coverage hits university's newspaper

7:26 PM, Jan 23, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- Despite claims by defense attorney Bill Whitaker that it would become a "media circus," only the local Northeast Ohio media outlets have been covering the corruption trial of former Cuyahoga County Commissioner and county Democratic Party leader Jimmy Dimora so far.

While the Dimora trial and the FBI's five-year corruption probe is the largest corruption scandal in the county's history, it's not even a blip on the national media's radar.

The four Cleveland TV stations, the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper, and radio stations WTAM and WKSU have been the only regular attendees.

But on Friday, the city editor for The Daily Kent Stater, the university's independent newspaper, also covered the trial from the media room.

Britni Marie Williams, a senior at Kent State University, got her media credentials and sat through the day's proceedings.

So what's the draw for a university newspaper whose main campus is not even in Cuyahoga County?

Williams, from Meadville, Pa., tells Channel 3 that her Reporting Public Affairs class instructor, Susan Valerian, made it mandatory for her students to be present at least one day of the Dimora trial. Valerian is a former Channel 3 News producer who is now a part-time instructor at KSU.

"As a member of the class, I did have the option to view the trial as part of the general public, but I took a more involved interest in the trial because it is also being discussed in a media ethics class I'm currently in," Williams said.

"Originally, I had no idea if I was going to come away with a story (for the Daily Kent Stater) because students generally don't want to hear about the nitty gritty details of a corruption trial. After I heard the language being used, I knew that would be a way to spark students' interest while still briefing them about the trial."

Williams was referring to dozens and dozens, if not hundreds and hundreds, of the FBI's 44,000-plus wiretapped conversations between many of the parties who have already pleaded guilty and Dimora, where four-letter-words and crude comments are the norm, not the exception.

Williams is one of 18 in the Reporting Public Affairs class but the first to attend the trial.

Her story was already posted Saturday at Kentwired.com and will appear in the print version this week.

Kentwired is Kent State's collaboration of independent student media.

Williams' story "Colorful language marks Dimora trial" has an editor's warning at the top of the article: The following article contains many of the obscenities used throughout the trial, as heard in the United States District Court.

Will Williams be back?

She said she is usually in class while the trial is going on, so she won't get to be there as much as she would like.

Also, there's no money in the The Daily Kent Stater budget for expenses, so "being a stereotypical broke college student, I'm not sure how much of the trial I can afford to cover."

WKYC-TV

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