Thursday, September 29, 2011


Yesterday, late afternoon, yours truly returned a call from Plain Township Trustee Louis P. Giavasis.

The SCPR had been at the regular meeting of the trustees on Tuesday (September 27th) and he wanted to know whether The Rep's report of the meeting told the full story of what happened at the meeting.

Here is the article he complains of:

First, Giavasis was unhappy that for a meeting that lasted about an hour, The Repository saw fit to publish two paragraphs (his words).

Second, he was upset with this sentence:  "Swanson said the sales tax campaign doesn’t affect the police service his department is contracted to provide for Plain Township." (enlarged for emphasis)

The Report's response:  "No! it doesn't."

An important part of the presentation by Sheriff Swanson and his Chief Deputy Mike McDonald (the jail division) was that: (paraphrasing) "Yes, the Plain contracted officers could come to the scene of the incident, but if there was a need for an arrest and jailing, Plain Township residents were in no better shape than any other Stark County police jurisdiction because booking will be limited to a specific block of time (not 24/7 as it is now) and except for murderers and rapists and the like, there will be no room in what will be a 122 bed jail should the November 1/2 cent on the dollar sales tax increase be rejected by voters."

For those readers who want to see a much more complete version of Stark County Swanson's presentation, a video of such is included in this blog at the conclusion of the written portion.

More and more the SCPR gets calls from the Stark County public complaining about the thoroughness and completeness of Repository reports of governmental meetings and political happenings in Stark County.

For years now (even before the SCPR began upwards of four years ago) yours truly has via letters to the editor and comments in The Rep itself complained that The Repository being a monopoly (i.e. "one newspaper town') has a special obligation to take measures to ensure that it compensates for the lack of competition.

But in the judgment of The Report, it hasn't.  To yours truly, it acts as if it were a public utility or, perhaps, a unit of government.  One of SCPR's favorite lines out of The Rep comes from former Executive Editor David Kaminski when he made a statement in one of his editorials equating The Rep to "An 800-pound gorilla which buys ink by the barrel."

Statements like that folks, is unbridled arrogance and we all know the arrogant just shove it down our collective throats and we get what we get in coverage and ability to respond or contest what is written and just go away and shut up!

July 3, 1930 was a day of infamy in terms of Stark County newspaper readers having a choice and The Rep being compelled to compete.  It was on that day that the then owners of The Repository bought out the Canton Daily News.  In hindsight, we Stark Countians would have lamented and wished that it would have been the reverse.

Of course, not many, if any, of us Stark Countians were around then to read the pre-July 3, 1930 competing newspapers.  But it is impressive that the in 1927, the Canton Daily News was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service on the work of prize reporter Don Mellet.

Apparently, the assassination death of the hard-hitting, thorough Mellett was also the death of the Canton Daily News.

As terrible as all of that was, it is only part of the story of tremendous loss visited upon Stark County.

Because the ownership of The Repository has basked in the comfort of being the only newspaper in Canton rather than take on "super-responsibility," the constituents of the seat of Stark County government and other Ohio political subdivisions (boards of education, villages, cities and township, et cetera) and the concomitant politics that goes with such government, have been poorly served in the "public service" aspect of newspapering.

Yours truly has lived in Stark County for nearly 40 years.  How much of that time has been spent as a subscriber of The Repository?  Six months, perhaps, a year total.  An avid newspaper reader until the onset of online newspaper editions, that says quite a lot about one estimate of the quality of The Repository.

About year ago, Reporter Robert Wang of The Rep told yours truly how much Executive Editor Jeff Gauger at The Rep hated Martin Olson and his Stark County Political Report.

Interesting, no?

A one-person-operation sought to be devoured by a self-described 800-pound gorilla?

So much for fostering a free press, no?

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