Cleveland Press Collection, Cleveland State
George Forbes tosses journalist Roldo Bartimole from a special council meeting in 1981.
Cleveland independent journalist Roldo Bartimole turns 85 years old today. More importantly for local news consumers, April 5 marks the day, 50 years ago, that Roldo reached the end of his rope working for mainstream media outlets.
He was employed by the Wall Street Journal
at the time, working at that paper's Cleveland bureau. As the story goes, Roldo experienced an "epiphany" when he attended a conference where George Wiley, head of the National Welfare Rights Organization, spoke about the black community's feelings in response to Martin Luther King's assassination the previous day.
Listening to and observing the largely white, educated audience ask questions about black rioting — "When are you people going to stop the burning in the cities," one man reportedly asked — Roldo was moved to action.
Via a Free Times profile from December, 2000:
"Roldo's own sense of rage was boiling up. Maybe it had something to do with the poverty and the racial friction and the power imbalances and all the other inequities and injustices that he'd been chronicling for nearly a decade [in Bridgeport, Conn., and at the Plain Dealer
and the WSJ].
He quit his job the next day. He was going to get the word out on his own."
Thus began Roldo's crusading newsletter Point of View,
which he published continuously for 32 years, shining a light on the "three-headed dog" of Cleveland power: politics, business, and the media. After Point of View,
Roldo continued to publish columns in the Free Times, CoolCleveland,
and, most recently, on the local blog Have Coffee Will Write.
Roldo summed up his 50-year journalistic career, an apparent sign-off, in a lengthy post earlier this year