Monday, October 11, 2010


A reader of the Stark County Political Report points out a striking thing about the investigation of Vince Frustaci and his theft of millions from the Stark County treasury.

As readers of the SCPR know, yours truly as a Stark County citizen has no confidence whatsoever in the Stark County prosecutor's office.  The only remedy for Stark Countians on that front is to replace Prosecutor John Ferrero in the November, 2012 elections.

Stark Countians have to cross their fingers and hope that Stark County Republican chairman Jeff Matthews will get off his duff and provide county voters with a choice in the 2012 elections.  Matthews gave Ferrero a pass in 2008 as he did Stark County treasurer Gary Zeigler.

With The Repository, Stark Countians have no choice - at least, in the sense of the print media.  The Rep is Stark County's only countywide print medium.  The Repository in tandem with The Independent (Massillon) have a monopoly of print edition news and opinion and Stark Countians suffer .

Only The Alliance Review, in its print edition,  give Stark Countians any chance at all at a different look at, a different approach to, reporting on and investigating critical matters of government and in the private sector that affect all of us.

While the focus of this blog is the future of The Rep's print edition, the same investigative deficiencies are present in its online edition.

The SCPR is told by a person in a position to know that the purchase in recent years of The Repository by GateHouse Media was a serious blow to The Rep's ability to be a newspaper in the sense we have known newspapers over the years.  It is said that GateHouse Media is an organization of bankers who know very little about how to effectively put out newspapers worth reading.

These banker-esque types apparently worry more about how many paper clips and reporter's notepads are being used than having a commitment to build and maintain newspapers with superlative investigative capacity, inclination and production.

The SCPR has learned that it seems that The Rep's primary product these days is its online edition; not the print edition.  High management at The Rep is telling that message to local staff.

Across the nation last year, the nations' newspapers as a generality lost 8% of their readership.  There is no indication that the bleeding will be stopping short of the death of many, many print editions over the breadth of America.  And The Repository seems to be on that track.

New generations of Americans are firmly locked into electronics and reading anything in print will become a rare phenomenon indeed in short order.

The SCPR believes in a few short years there will be no print edition of The Canton Repository and The Massillon Independent because of the shift in the reading/viewing habits of Stark Countians.

Moving into the cyberspace, The Repository et al will and, in fact, do have competition.

The question is this:  Will the likes of The Rep be able to recover the investigative side of journalism in the much lower cost online journalism?

With the dramatic lowering of cost, that factor will no longer be an excuse for online newspapers not getting back to investigative journalism in a big, big way.

Right now The Rep, (both specifically and as generally representing mainline local medias), is saddled with an ownership that appears to be uninterested in investigation and with being in bed with the local political and governmental establishment.

Consequently, The Repository is not trusted by much of the reading public (print or online) to get to the heart of a matter, thoroughly vet it, and report with "no holds barred" to the Stark County public.

Unless and until The Repository sheds these barriers, it will not make any difference whatsoever that it is fully online with its concomitant huge savings in the cost of the product produced.

Coming full circle, the SCPR reader and his castigation of The Repository for not thoroughly vetting the Frustaci/Cutshall letters, he is making a compelling point in terms of "unanswered" questions.

The SCPR does not buy the point of view that The Repository does not have the resources to do investigative journalism.   Rather, it is apparent to The Report that a internal policy decision (likely encouraged if not mandated by GateHouse) has been made to abandon meaningful investigation as a part of The Rep's journalistic model and accordingly begs the question:

Why would Stark Countians trust The Repository to be a beacon of light ferreting out Stark County government corruption, be it a print and online press medium or online only?

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