Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Were Christina Hagan to send The Stark County Political Report a press release on the status of her effort to be re-reelected 50th Ohio House District state representative, The Report likely would print it word-for-word.

But, of course, I would actually read any such release word-for-word even it I trusted the writer.

As a journalist, I am very much of the Ronald Reagan school of "trust but verify."

The print word-for-word is not an absolute.  In some instances there is a need to blank out "known to be untruthful/inaccurate information."  Or, at a minimum, to interlineate the actual facts of the matter.

It seems to me that the good folks who own and publish The Hartville News (HN, News)—a newspaper I have subscribed to most of my 41 years of living in Lake Township— trusted Christina Hagan too much.

In its bailiwick, the News a does terrific job of keeping Hartville and Lake Township readers informed about community matters.

However, the publishers/editors should be very wary of getting into journalistic areas in which "angels fear to tread."

One of those areas is allowing politicians free reign to say this or that thing about their accomplishments as politicians.

Such self-aggrandizing access is likely in my experience with the politicos to result in a unvarnished political propaganda piece that goes unchallenged by the exercise of any editorial vetting process except of course by the likes of The Stark County Political Report.

On April 27th, the HN published a column sent in by Christina which contained "commonly known to be untruthful/inaccurate information."

Either the HN folks assumed Hagan would do "due diligence" to ensure that her column not include untruthful/inaccurate information or did not know what just about anybody with any sense of awareness of the history of Stark County government operations has known since June 25, 2010 (LINK):

Because the HN trusted Representative Hagan to do "due diligence" in order to be accurate with information contained in her column, this local weekly periodical—at the very least—ended up with "egg on its face."

Here is a correction to Hagan's column which The Hartville News published last Wednesday:

Notice that there is nary of word from Representative Hagan on how she could make such error.

Moreover, in the correction there is no reciting of the braggadocio by politician Hagan:  "Citizens were wronged, and now we know that there are safeguards to protect House District 50 and Ohio from such financial harm occurring again."

A better approach for Hagan would have been to use the language of a June 17, 2014 press release (LINK).

But even the claims in the Hagan press release deserve journalistic scrutiny and challenging questions.

The real reason that taxpayer funds are more secure in the Stark County treasury are the changes in policies, practices, procedures and the physical facilities instituted by Zeigler successor Alex Zumbar.

In fact, at a recent Stark County commissioner meeting, Zumbar reminded commissioners of the mess in terms of policies, practices, procedures and physical facilities he inherited and that he and his treasury team of leadership as a matter of reality—not in the sense of "how great I am" (Christina Hagan)—had made many modifications to secure county held taxpayer monies.

The Stark County Political Report has endeavored to delve into how the inaccurate information got into Hagan's column.  This e-mail sent to Hagan yesterday:

But Hagan has yet to respond.  And it is likely that she will not even though she says she is a proponent of transparent government.  (LINK)

The SCPR's take on Hagan is that she surrounds and subjects herself only to those who do not ask her challenging questions.

The Hartville News folks would have done themselves and Hagan a huge good turn if they had wrinkled their foreheads and brought to her attention the inaccuracy of her Zeigler statement.

And, apparently, Hagan herself did not screen the column for accuracy.

The Report suspects that the piece was actually written by a Hagan staffer who did not nail down the actual facts of the situation.

Even if so, the buck stops at the desk of State Representative Christina Hagan.

1 comment:

Chris Cole said...

I think that we should cut Mrs. Hagan some slack. She was just barely 20 years old when the Vince Frustaci incident happened. She may have been kind of busy with her school work to pay attention to local politics. (Satire)