CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The Cincinnati Enquirer -- a morning daily owned by media giant Gannett Co. Inc. -- is trying a cross-promotion with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey in a bid to shore up readership. The newspaper plans later this month to deliver a tabloid section through its Newspaper In Education program that focuses on Bello the Clown. Bello is a circus star whose strawberry blond hair is spiked and stands straight up. The day-glo locks are the clown's trademark. The boxing ring has Don King, the three rings have Bello.
There seems to be a dash of P.T Barnum -- the late, great huckster and promoter -- extant in the Cincinnati Enquirer's arrangement with the circus. The Enquirer, in its pitch to educators, describes the promotion as purely an educational effort: "Thanks to a generous sponsorship from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, local teachers can use the pageantry and excitement of the circus to build skills in the classroom. NIE teachers will receive a special NIE Bellobration tabloid delivered with their classroom newspapers on Tuesday, Feb. 12."
Coincidentally, that also happens to be the day discounted circus tickets go on sale through the Enquirer's Newspaper in Education program as is made clear by clicking on this link. The deal -- $20 tickets are cut to $18. Some SW Ohio teachers are wondering: Is this actually about schooling, or using schooling as a stunt torn out of P.T. Barnum's sucker-born-every-minute playbook?
Newspapers are struggling these days, and staff and newshole cutbacks are common, as are declining stock prices for the publicly traded media giants like Gannett. Meanwhile, clowns -- at least Bello the Clown -- seems to having another good year. His past reviews have been great. Hairbotique.com raved about his spiked do.
"The hard working superbly skilled gymnast manages to keep his tresses neatly in place through a serious of physically demanding and daring feats such as being tossed up in the air by an elephant and then scrambling up a scary looking 60-foot Sway pole that is a mere 2-inches in diameter. Once Bello is at the top of the pole, that he climbs with his bare hands, he perches on top and swings the pole ins a series of death defying wild arcs which elicts oooohs and aaahs from the meserized crowds below. The act, created by his father Eugene, is both thrilling and scary to behold."