Stark County has fallen on hard times, Canton has fallen on hard times and The Repository has fallen on hard times.
With the assignment of Jeff Gauger as executive editor of The Repository, GateHouse Ohio Media has delivered a telling blow to the quality of editorial work being done at Stark's only countywide newspaper.
With Respect to Mayor William J. Healy, II, The Rep's reporting and opinion page reflect more of a public relations stance than tenacious reporting and political/governmental analysis.
An ominous piece was written by Rep reporter Ed Balint on May 9, 2009, to wit: Canton's quarterly newspaper produced in partnership with GateHouse Ohio [Media], (The Repository's parent company).
“We’re excited to be able to assist the city in the publication of their magazine,” said Kevin M. Kampman, president of GateHouse Ohio and publisher of The Repository.Kampman went on to say:
Now that a year has transpired since Kampman's disclaimer, who believes it?“This business relationship does not involve our newspaper newsrooms and will not shape the independent coverage decisions made by GateHouse Ohio journalists.”
Let's see, here it is March 6, 2010. Two days ago, The Rep gave over the pages of the paper to pushing its spin on Canton's crime situation. By way of intro, editorial writer Gayle Beck gave this synopsis of the hand over: (By the way, Beck assumes the "unassuming" role of "staff writer," really Gayle?)
We chose questions that we thought would have the broadest interest in the community. We skipped the handful of loaded questions. I can tell you, though, that the police chief takes exception to the notion that traffic tickets are a form of extortion.
Key phrases "[w]e chose questions ... ," and "[w]e skipped a handful of loaded questions."
This language indicates that The Rep editorial writers were filtering in "set up questions" to the liking of Healy administration officials at the same time they were filtering out "hardball questions."
The Result: A Healy administration PR piece!
Shouldn't surprise anyone.
For Gauger, Beck et al to allow such use of The Repository shows the extent to which the Healy administration has been able to compromise the journalistic integrity of The Rep.
For instance, who believes for one New York minute (for Healy and his New York University connection) that 1,173 traffic citations in January, 2010 compares to only 57 in January, 2009 were primarily, according to Safety Director Thomas Ream (the same Thomas Ream who is said - as a leader in the Canton Police Department - sat down with a Repository reporter over beers to have been bought by the reporter) for safety reasons.
Nobody believes this Administration propaganda.
And yet the Rep editorial writers let these statements go unchallenged. Moreover, the SCPR labels the editorialists as being complicit in the deception:
More of the Healy administration pablum:
Decreases in calls involving criminal activity are letting police do “work that should have been done all along, if we’d had the ability,” [Canton Police Department Chief] McKimm said.When you couple the March 4th publication with an overall look at how the relationship that The Rep has with the Healy administration, it is easy to conclude that there is a "sweetheart" relationship between Gauger and colleagues and the Healy folks.
Healy anticipates that the traffic crackdown will force drivers to change their habits, leading eventually to fewer citations and less revenue for the city.
The relationship gets manifested in photo ops (e.g. Healy meeting with J.L. Watson who was picketing in support of Canton firefighters and Healy picking up garbage) which obviously requires tip-offs being phoned in from City Hall to The Rep offices, and the failure of The Rep generally to provide scrutinizing coverage of the administration. Moreover, on more than one occasion, The Rep has virtually handed over its editorial pages to Healy as an avenue to pump his spin out.
It is GateHouse Ohio Media's newspaper to run as the ownership sees fit.
But with all its co-mingling relationships, who assigns it much credibility?