By: Mark Fitzgerald
Cleveland State University has launched a Web site preserving the legacy of Roldo Bartimole, the now-retired iconoclast and self-appointed watchdog of Cleveland?s media and corporate establishments.
?Roldo Bartimole — Point of View? is part of The Cleveland Memory Project at www.clevelandmemory.org, which displays online numerous documents from the city, including an exhibit dedicated to the ?Untouchable? leader Elliot Ness, histories of ethnic neighborhoods, and old postcards. The exhibit for Roldo — as the journalist is universally known around Cleveland — is found between ?Railroad History? and ?Sacred Landmarks of Cleveland.?
?I?m glad they did it and quite appreciative,? Roldo said during a telephone interview from Cleveland.
The site includes the complete text of several issues of Point of View, the biweekly newsletter that made him famous in Cleveland. Roldo started the newsletter in 1968 when he quit as a reporter in The Wall Street Journal?s Cleveland bureau the day after the assassination of Martin Luther King. In an E&P profile that ran in January 2004, Roldo said he wanted to write about ?real issues,? and for the next three decades he wrote from a populist point of view that was deeply skeptical of the downtown business establishment.
Ultimately, the project intends to post the text for its complete collection of Point of View, encompassing 1968 to 2000 when the newsletter folded, said William C. Barrow, the special collections librarian at Cleveland State, and head of the Cleveland Memory project.
?We had long recognized that Roldo made great contributions to Cleveland journalism,? Barrow said. ?He wrote during the turmoil of the ?60s, but he wasn?t just some guy ranting about something. He had done his homework, but at the same time he wasn?t buying in to the corporate approach. Roldo was a combination gadfly, media critic, and just good journalist.?
The site includes some articles from the 1980s and 1990s, when he also wrote for Cleveland?s alternative papers, including the Free Times and Cleveland Edition. His last print column was carried by the black-oriented weekly CityNews, and he occasionally contributes to online sites such as What?s Up in Northeast Ohio, CoolCleveland.com and Lakewoodbuzz.com.
The site includes a biographical sketch, and a recording of what is labeled ?the passionate and poignant speech Roldo delivered to members of he Cleveland City Club back on Dec. 20, 1968.
Though he?s been officially retired for more than a year, Roldo, 72, tries to attend the City Council committee meetings he haunted over the years — often breaking stories because no one else from Cleveland?s news media bothered to show up. But he suffered a second heart attack last year, and can?t get out on days like Tuesday?s scorcher, he said.
?You get forgotten very quickly, let me tell you,? Roldo said of his absence from a print pulpit.