Friday, April 2, 2010

STARK COUNTY TREASURER GARY ZEIGLER SUES "THE REPOSITORY" (VIA ITS PARENT COMPANY): THE SCPR'S TAKE ON THE "HEART OF THE COMPLAINT?' ("HEART" AS IN THE OPINION OF THE SCPR)


 UPDATED:  12:10 PM 04/03/2010


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JLR has left a new comment on your post "STARK COUNTY TREASURER GARY ZEIGLER SUES "THE REPO...":


I'm surprised that Mr. Olson chose to focus only on the portion of the complaint that relates to readers' comments. According to the Canton Rep, Mr. Zeigler is also complaining about the content of the articles written on the subject. These have been more than fair to him in my opinion. He objects to anyone alleging he was derelict in his duties in allowing possibly large sums of money to be embezzled under his watch. He feels his responsibility was limited to reporting after the fact, not having safeguards in place to prevent the theft. The Rep even printed a submission explaining why technically that might be true. If the citizens don't buy it, that's not the editor's fault.


There seems to be a pattern of using the legal process to intimidate critics that is more disturbing and dangerous than anything the Repository has done. The Devies' case, the filing of a disciplinary complaint by John Ferrero against Mr. Olson and now this. If the findings of the investigation are to be reported soon, this may be a way to deter anyone from suggesting Mr. Zeigler resign. I think the emphasis should be on the politicians' attempt to control information.

UPDATED  7:20 AM 04/03/2010

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mary has left a new comment on your post "STARK COUNTY TREASURER GARY ZEIGLER SUES "THE REPO...":

Many of us, especially ones who are often, the victim of harassment, vindictiveness, racism, slander and even more, while not politicians, or office holders, have asked, just about begged Jeff to get a grip on his comment section, to no avail.

I never could understand why, he would want what was at one time, a 'comfortable' place to go and express your opinion on a political stance, a candidate, the
State of the Nation, or whatever, to become what it is today. A place for people to go and dump on someone they dislike.

Have more people started commenting under his leadership? Oh yea. They could now, come on, make personal attacks on the comment and the commenter.


Mike Hanke
had no problem keeping people in check. He along with Jim Hillibish, ran a pretty tight ship, which I complained about back then. I couldn't really see the need for some of their rules, until he left, and I saw, and was sort of a victim of the maliciousness that became, and remains until this day, the norm once on comments. Mr. Gauger allowed commentors to get out of control. Once it had gone so far, it was hard to lasso it back in. A little lecture here and there about us acting like pre-schoolers, just wasn't enough. People who were kicked off by Hanke, for very legitimate reasons, were knowingly allowed back on, and were even more malicious and vindictive than they were when they were booted off. They knew they could get away with murder now, and they did all but commit it. The only thing they're going to kill though is his newspaper.

Jeff's a likable guy, and I think that's part of the problem. He wants to be liked, or at least think he is. People weren't crazy about Mike, but at least the paper wasn't getting sued because of the comment section under his management. 

ORIGINAL POST


Revised at 3:18 P.M. 04/02/2010

The SCPR commentary is as a journalist and not as an attorney.

On reading the complaint filed by Stark County Treasurer Gary Zeigler versus The Repository (in the name of parent company GateHouse Media, Inc.), the SCPR's take on the lawsuit is that the core of the complaint is that The Rep fails to screen the commenters' comments so as to excise totally unsupported assertions.

It appears to The Report from the numerous editorials he has written since he came to The Repository from Rockford, IL assigned by GateHouse, that Executive Editor Jeff Gauger has been in charge of supervising whether or not a given comment on a Repository story gets published.

Just this week Gauger wrote a column in which he talks about a 2010 Stark County candidate's use of the comments section as a campaign communication medium without identifying himself.  The Stark County Political Report believes that Gauger should identify the candidate.  But Gauger says he sees no purpose in doing so.

Really?  No purpose?

Think that the "anonymous" candidate's opponent or even the voting public (and early voting does begin on Tuesday next) might not want to know so that a response in campaign literature can be fashioned and so that voters can make a determination as to whether or not the conduct of the offending candidate can be factored in by voters?

Back to the Zeigler complaint (excerpts of which appear in this blog).

Looking at the first paragraph of Zeigler's complaint - it seems to the SCPR -  (the SCPR has not talked with Zeigler or his legal counsel), that the core of the complaint is focused on The Repository's failure to control comments that appear to "go over the line" of responsible free speech into - in the opinion of The Report - unproductive, perhaps even counterproductive speech in terms of what is a healthy public dialogue on issue,s and citizen opinion of the public performance and conduct of officeholders.


In what the SCPR takes in a confirmatory sort of way, a source (a county officeholder, but not Zeigler) says that a number of area elected officials (including, obviously, Zeigler), who are often the subject of commenters' comments, are very unhappy about the quality of The Repository's monitoring of and screening out what the officeholders think are "over the line" comments.

Undoubtedly, The Repository has heard officeholders' complaints direct, but The Rep appears to The Report to have chosen - after hearing such - not to tighten things up. 

So now it will be for the courts to decide.

We should all hope - on this aspect of the case - for a decision that upholds First Amendment and Ohio's concomitant constitutional right to the fullest extent possible in the context of requiring publishers to exercise good faith control over which third party comments do or do not get published.

4 comments:

Marc said...

I've said it before, I'll say it again the only people opposed to Freedom Of Speech are politicians

mary said...

Many of us, especially ones who are often, the victim of harassment, vindictiveness, racism, slander and even more, while not politicians, or office holders, have asked, just about begged Jeff to get a grip on his comment section, to no avail.

I never could understand why, he would want what was at one time, a 'comfortable' place to go and express your opinion on a political stance, a candidate, the State of the Nation, or whatever, to become what it is today. A place for people to go and dump on someone they dislike.

Have more people started commenting under his leadership? Oh yea. They could now, come on, make personal attacks on the comment and the commenter.

Mike Hanke had no problem keeping people in check. He along with Jim Hillibish, ran a pretty tight ship, which I complained about back then. I couldn't really see the need for some of their rules, until he left, and I saw, and was sort of a victim of the maliciousness that became, and remains until this day, the norm once on comments. Mr. Gauger allowed commentors to get out of control. Once it had gone so far, it was hard to lasso it back in. A little lecture here and there about us acting like pre-schoolers, just wasn't enough. People who were kicked off by Hanke, for very legitimate reasons, were knowingly allowed back on, and were even more malicious and vindictive than they were when they were booted off. They knew they could get away with murder now, and they did all but commit it. The only thing they're going to kill though is his newspaper.

Jeff's a likable guy, and I think that's part of the problem. He wants to be liked, or at least think he is. People weren't crazy about Mike, but at least the paper wasn't getting sued because of the comment section under his management.

mary said...

P.S. I also think that Mr. Gauger should identify the politician who was using an aka.

JLR said...

I'm surprised that Mr. Olson chose to focus only on the portion of the complaint that relates to readers' comments. According to the Canton Rep, Mr. Zeigler is also complaining about the content of the articles written on the subject. These have been more than fair to him in my opinion. He objects to anyone alleging he was derelict in his duties in allowing possibly large sums of money to be embezzled under his watch. He feels his responsibility was limited to reporting after the fact, not having safeguards in place to prevent the theft. The Rep even printed a submission explaining why technically that might be true. If the citizens don't buy it, that's not the editor's fault.

There seems to be a pattern of using the legal process to intimidate critics that is more disturbing and dangerous than anything the Repository has done. The Devies' case, the filing of a disciplinary complaint by John Ferrero against Mr. Olson and now this. If the findings of the investigation are to be reported soon, this may be a way to deter anyone from suggesting Mr. Zeigler resign. I think the emphasis should be on the politicians' attempt to control information.