A little over five years ago (April 11, 2007) The Canton Repository was purchased by GateHouse Media, Inc.
Preparatory to the sale by pre-GateHouse owner Copley News, Repository publisher David Greenfield was instructed to let managing editor Michael Hanke go (despite his very able performance over a 35 year employment run) in order to reduce the newspaper's "expense base," per the recommendation of the investment banker involved in the sale. (source: He Has Covered Both Sides, New York Times, Michael Winerip, March 20, 2009)
Consequently, Hanke (who went on to become  and continues to serve as Stark County's chief administrator) never had to work for GateHouse Media, Inc. (GateHouse).
GateHouse stock was at about $23.00 a share at The Repository purchase date. As yours truly writes this blog, it stands at $0.06.
It is likely now that Hanke is grateful Greenfield let him go effective December 31, 2006, given the financial hard times that GateHouse has been experiencing since shortly after its Rep purchase.
At the time, it had to be extremely trying to Hanke because he had had many good years at The Rep and he left with fond memories of his time there.
Unsurprisingly, (in light of its common stock plummet) on April 2, 2012, an article appearing on "theday.com." contains this excerpt from GateHouse's annual report (facing an outstanding debt due date of of more than $1 billion in 2014), to wit:
There can be no assurance that our business will generate cash flow from operations or that future borrowings will be available to us in amounts sufficient to enable us to pay our indebtedness. If we are unable to repay our indebtedness at maturity we may be forced to liquidate or reorganize our operations and business under the federal bankruptcy laws. (emphasis added)Even if GateHouse is forced into bankruptcy, one has to believe that The Repository (begun in 1815) will find a way to continue to serve Stark County in some way, shape or form.
However, nothing in life is a sure thing.
There are problems (labor/management tension) at The Repository these days in addition to the overall financial struggle that its parent company is going through that gives pause for thought.
So the SCPR believes that Stark Countians should be concerned about the continued viability of the nearly 200 year old "institution."
There has been a tug-of-war going on between the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild-CWA Local 1 (the union for non-management employees) and the management at GateHouse for some time.
The union represents about 180 non-management Repository employees and the Canton aspect of the union effort is headed up by reporters Tim Botos and Edd Pritchard.
A Facebook page "Save The Repository" (LINK) shows a history of dispute over the management's desire to have the right to outsource Canton-based (The Repository), Massillon-based (The Massillon Independent) and New Philadelphia (The Times-Reporter) going back at least into 2011.
Recently, things have heated up.
The Report is told that while huge numbers of local jobs are not thought to be at stake presently, the fear is that the drive for outsourcing will prove to be a "slippery slope" that will eventually threaten many more of the jobs currently in place. Perhaps, in time, even reaching into the reporter pool.
This past Monday Newspaper Guild members conducted an informational picketing demonstration in front of The Repository's building located at 500 Market Avenue, South.
The Report hears that another demonstration is scheduled for Friday, May 4th (Canton's First Friday) in front of the Newspaper Guild headquarters located at 203 Market Avenue, South in Canton.
Moreover, a community rally is said to be in the works for May 24th from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. No word on location of the rally.
While the outsourcing seems to be the main issue, the SCPR is told that Repository non-management employees have not received any raises for some four years.
The lack of raises has to be particularly galling given the following excerpt from Media Nation:
One source suggested to yours truly that ever since GateHouse has taken over, it has been doing so on the cheap. The source doubted that departed executive editor Jeff Gauger (August, 2007 through March 2, 2012) was making anywhere near the money that his predecessor David Kaminski (now with the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce) made.
The question: Did GateHouse's frugality and/or its dire financial condition have anything to do with Gauger's departure?
It will be interesting to see whether or not GateHouse replaces Gauger. Managing Editor Don Detore was appointed this past February as interim executive director.
While yours truly has never been enamored of The Repository, there is no doubt that Stark County needs a countywide daily newspaper. So whatever happens to GateHouse, Stark Countians should be rooting for an enduring Canton Repository.
Just a much better one than we have known in the recent past!