Sunday, May 10, 2009


Don't you just love these paternalistic types such as Repository publisher Kevin Kampman?

In essence, Kampman is telling Repository readers to "trust us."

In 2009, this guy, in light of all the corporate abuses in terms of undermining the public trust Americans have witnessed of late, tells the consuming public "trust us."

He has to be kidding!

For The Repository, as a matter of business operational structure, to put itself in question about how its finances factor into its hard news coverage, makes yours truly suspect that The Rep is, like nearly every newspaper in the land, desperate to make a few pieces of loose change wherever it can be found.

Readers of The Repository (Stark County's ONLY countywide newspaper) should not have to wrestle with the question of whether or not coverage in affected by a financial relationship. Kampman can make contrary assertions until he is blue in the face, but he can't stop readers from wondering.

Readers of the SCPR know that yours truly thinks that Mayor William J. Healy, II is one the most committed and masterful political manipulators that Stark County has ever seen. As a part of his routine, he calls the powers-to-be at The Rep (when his political maneuvering get dicey for him) and asks for an audience to "explain his position."

Why does he do this? Could it be because he thinks he can outwit The Rep's editorial group? And The Report believes it works for him.

Will this commercial relationship between Canton and The Rep embolden Healy's effort to manage, massage and spin the news coming out of City Hall? The SCPR thinks so.

The SCRP has been questioning the dependability of The Rep's coverage of the Healy Administration ever since a source tipped The Report off about the impending deal between the city of Canton and the newspaper. Moreover, The Rep has always had a coverage and editorial romance going with Ohio legislators Oelslager and Schuring.

Recently, Repository reporter Ed Balint did a piece entitled Healy: Best of times, worst of times (May 1, 2009). Look at the following except from that piece:
Healy distributed a city progress report that listed 346 jobs ... . However, Healy acknowledged the Canton area has been hit hard by unemployment, like much of the nation. Overall, "our job numbers are down," said Robert Torres, the city's development director. (emphasis added)
The first thought that yours truly had when this piece was published was "Aha, here you go, Healy et al spinning the jobs picture in Canton."

Notice, there is no mention of the exact number of "job numbers ... down." But there is a mention of in the "city progress report that listed 346 jobs."

Was this simply the failure of a reporter not asking the obvious follow up question? "Well, Director Torres how much are Canton's job numbers down?" Could be.

Another point.

What is Ed Balint doing covering a story (i.e. Canton's quarterly magazine produced in partnership with GateHouse Ohio) Repository management actions anyway. Does an employee feel free to ask the boss (Kampman, publisher of The Rep and president of GateHouse Ohio) tough questions?

Why didn't Kampman ask someone from outside The Rep's (GateHouse Media Ohio) staff who is known to have penetrating, hard hitting style to do this story? What is he afraid of?

"What's good for the goose is not good for the gander" as far as Kampman is concerned. The SCPR picked up this bit demonstrating Kampman's questioning skill from a 1999 story, to wit:
As Martin flips through the pages of a Daily Progress, Kampman peppers Speck with questions. Who are the advertisers? Who is the advertising director? Is he strong? Where do the ad takers sit? Who gets the overflow calls? What are the volume numbers? When are they going to a 100 percent commission system? (scource: The Selling of Small-town America, American Journalism Review, May, 1999)
Isn't Kampman a hypocrite of the first journalistic order?

The SCPR hasn't paid enough attention to the quality of Balint's work over all in terms of his ability to bore in with the tough questions on any given story. But his work on the Canton Connection magazine piece appears to the SCPR to somewhat akin to paid advertisement work that - without careful scrutiny - seems to be a real story.

It was a disservice to the reading public and unfair to Balint for Kampman et al to have a Rep reporter (anyone on staff, not just Balint) report the The Repository/Canton commercial relationship.

Yes, Kampman can make his assertion of independence, but he cannot control the minds of The Rep's readers.

Over time, we the readers will make an ever continuing work-in-progress assessment as to whether or not the Kampman mere assertion of independence has demonstrated substance.

Recently Executive Editor Jeff Gauger appeared before the Akron Press Club to talk about The Rep's future on the internet.

Gauger predicts that within the foreseeable future The Rep will be charging for online content.

The SCPR's reaction?

Will it be content worth paying for?

No comments: