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“The Cut” is a weekly reporters notebook-type essay by an Ideastream Public Media content creator, reflecting on the news and on life in Northeast Ohio. What exactly does “The Cut” mean? It's a throwback to the old days of using a razor blade to cut analog tape. In radio lingo, we refer to sound bites as “cuts.” So think of these behind-the-scene essays as “cuts” from Ideastream's producers.

Seriously, this all happened in 2023

An explosion and black smoke behind business buildings. Larry Householder speaks as reporters hold microphones in front of him. A woman joyfully holds a "Yes on Issue 1 pro choice" sign over her head.
Gene J. Puskar / AP; Nick Swartsell / WVXU; Ryan Loew / Ideastream Public Media
A black plume and fireball rise over East Palestine, Ohio, as a result of a controlled detonation of a portion of the derailed Norfolk Southern train on Monday, Feb. 6, 2023.

I sat down a few weeks back with Leigh Barr, the terrific coordinating producer of the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable," to talk about all the news we covered on the roundtable this year.

One of the great fortunes of my job as executive editor is that once a week, I still get to host the weekly news roundtable on radio and the "Ideas" TV show, where our reporters help to put the week’s news into perspective. The year-end roundtable show is a tough one. So much news, so little time. Leigh and I needed to get a handle on what to include.

She suggested the toxic train derailment in East Palestine as a top story. I thought, “Yeah, but that was, like, five years ago.” It was in February. This year.

Then she noted the conviction of Larry Householder in the HB 6 corruption scandal. “That was this year, too?” Yep. In March.

That’s how it goes with big stories that stay big even as the torrent of daily news rushes by.

As usual, Leigh put everything together for an informative roundtable touching on the year’s top stories. We taped it so our staff could enjoy some holiday time off, and we’ll air it on 89.7 WKSU Friday, Dec. 29 at 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and on WVIZ-PBS on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

As you can imagine, there were so many big stories we couldn’t get to. But with the help of Ohio Public Radio Statehouse News Bureau Chief Karen Kasler, Buckeye Flame Editor Ken Schneck and Ideastream Public Media’s Anna Huntsman, Kabir Bhatia and Glenn Forbes, we touched on many of the stories that touched our lives in 2023.

Voters said no to raising the bar on constitutional amendments, yes on enshrining reproductive rights, including abortion, in the Ohio constitution and yes to recreational marijuana.

The legislature got involved in education, expanding private school vouchers and passing measures opposed by LGBTQ+ advocates. An effort to erase “woke” culture from Ohio colleges and universities passed the Ohio Senate but wasn’t taken up by the House before year end.

Implementing civilian oversight of police has been a slog in Akron and Cleveland, where city councils also struggle to set rules for public comments. And a big extension, 40 more years of a .25% Cuyahoga County sales tax, was suddenly passed without public vote. The money will cover a a new jail to replace the one savaged in a 2018 U.S. Marshals Service report, which called conditions “inhumane.”

Conceiving and hosting the year-end show offered me a chance to take stock of the work our dedicated reporters, editors and producers have done. We covered health care, education, the environment, local government, criminal justice and everything in between on the radio, on our website, on our growing social media channels and in our newsletters, including the Frequency Week in Review, where essays by our staff, including this one, appear each week (subscribe at ideastream.org/newsletters).

We’re packing our newscasts with news you need to know and producing more in-depth feature stories than ever before from across the region. Those are the stories that contain what we call driveway moments where you pulled in and parked but can’t leave until you finish listening.

We’ve got big plans for 2024, too. We will cover the elections with citizens in mind, answering your questions, pursuing your leads. And we’ll cover the big stories, and the little ones that matter, too. And I’ll bet you New Year’s Day pork roast that, like Friday’s show, only a fraction will make it to the 2024 Reporters Roundtable year-end edition.

Mike McIntyre is the executive editor of Ideastream Public Media.