Monday, March 1, 2010



About the only journalistic sunshine that bleeds through to the Stark County public these days comes from the Stark County Political Report.

Stark County's main journalistic enterprise (some 60 employees - strong or weak, depending on your perspective) is so hooked into the Stark County "powers that be" that its staff writers and editorialists are virtually paralyzed when it comes to sharing with the Stark County public the hidden, dark side of Stark County government and its political subdivisions.

The Report as well as scores of everyday Stark Countians have been onto The Rep's compromised status for years now.

The Rep can change its style (in print and online) all it wants.  But it's not the sizzle that sells.  It is the steak.

So, why does the SCPR dig up old bones today?

Two reasons.

First, "Sunshine Week" is on the horizon.  It is an annual media event designed to put a searchlight on government secrecy for one week out of 52.  The Repository will hypocritically opine of openness and accessibility to government, but does very little, if anything, to dig deep into the deep, deep dark secrets of local government.

According to the website the genesis of a week focused on getting the truth out of government began when:
The Florida Society of Newspaper Editors launched Sunshine Sunday in 2002 in response to efforts by some Florida legislators to create scores of new exemptions to the state's public records law.
Second, the SCPR had a connection with one of The Repository's reporters (Tim Botos) which underscores how much The Rep and many of its writing employees are insinuated into local government and thereby lose their ability to stand off and look at the locals critically.

The Report believes that most of The Rep's staff, including the likes of executive editor Jeff Gauger, couldn't write a lick of meaningful journalism if it were not for the journalistic incest that exists between a number of The Rep's reporters/editorial-writers and the government they write about and opinionate over.

But this doesn't keep The Rep management from throwing out its chest and beating it like a 800-pound gorilla (how former editor David Kaminski described The Rep) on a rampage.  

Last Monday, the SCPR was at the monthly Stark County Board of Elections meeting.  Also in attendance was Repository beat reporter Tim Botos.  As yours truly was readying to videotape the meeting, Chairman William Cline (after consulting with board member and Massillion clerk of courts Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. on what the SCPR believes to been on the videotaping) demanded that The Report cease recording.

Who didn't intervene or even write a lick about it?  Indeed, Rep reporter Tim Botos.

So how is it that The Repository leadership thinks they are  qualified to pontificate about directing journalistic sunshine at government.

This is the same Repository whose former managing editor (Michael Hanke) is now Stark County government's top administrative official.   The same Repository who former executive editor (Kaminski) now is one of the leaders of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce.  The same Repository who has publishing contracts with the City of Canton and other public entities that they write about.

Botos is an award winner that The Rep hump-hurrahs about.   An example.  On February 25, 2009 in Repository wins 37 AP awards, Botos was cited for his work EMS when seconds count.

It is interesting that not everybody was glad-handing Botos on his work.  Look at this telling comment by a Rep reader:

Tim Botos' piece on Stark County EMS is hardly worthy of awards. Althought (sic) it would take an insider to be able to notice the shortcomings of the piece A story full of factual inaccuracies and scare tactics reporting should hardly be given any praise. As an active member of the Stark County Fire/EMS community for for the past 23 years I think I am more than qualified to criticize Mr. Botos failed attempt to quantify the response an individual may get if they need EMS. One only needs to review the online comments that ran with the piece to see the displeasure the Fire/EMS community had with the entire series, some of which was a slap in the face to the hard working people who serve this county. Additionally when Mr. Botos was approached by the President of the Canton Firefighters Union to discuss the factual errors in his piece regarding the number of calls for service the Canton Fire Department responds to he became defensive and refused to admit there was an error. If this is the type of reporting the Repository is proud of then I need to reexamine all of the information this newspaper delivers.
The SCPR was disgusted to be associated, in the sense of being media, for Botos to remain silent as the Stark County Board of Elections denied sunshine being shed on the Board's public meeting as he uttered nary a word or protestation.  Just terrific!  And he was at the meeting for a newspaper that says that it fully supports media efforts to illuminate the actions of any government unit.  Hmm?

Cline tried to marginalize The Report as being non-media.  And, mostly likely - in the context of competition, Botos took delight in the put-down.  At the end of the meeting, Cline - dripping with solicitous honey - said something to the effect:  "How may we serve you, Tim?"  Looks like a cozy relationship, no?

The Repository and its working group largely fails the Stark County public in throwing the light of day on the inner recesses of local government operations.  The SCPR believes that The Rep with its lack of journalistic due diligence makes the likes of Mayor William J. Healy of Canton feel as if he can massage and cajole the Rep's management and reporter staff into being an accomplice in the Healy spin operation.

Isn't it interesting how a Rep photographer and a reporter is always at the ready when the Healy administration has a "photo op."  (Canton Mayor Healy, II picks up trash, January 20, 2010)  Who believes that a Repository photography/reporter team just happened to be out and about only to discover Mayor Healy out picking up garbage?  But that is the clear implication of the piece written.

The is nothing "sunshiny" about The Rep.

The Repository (Stark County's only countywide newspaper) should just forget that Sunshine Week runs from March 14 through 20, 2010.

If they write about it, which they surely shall as the politically correct newspaper thing to do, then they will be demonstrating the very point the SCPR is making in this blog.  They are first-rate journalistic hypocrites!!!


JL Watson said...

Yeah the rep was at the ready when I was picketing and happened to catch a photo of me and mayor healy conveniently after healy went back inside city hall and returned a short time later and the rep just happened to be there to snap the photo that made the paper


I'd love to read the "confidential" emails flying about the Rep offices this morning. Listen to the whispers at the water fountains. Read the notes taken in meetings this week. Too bad they can't be OPEN!!!

The Rep has LONG been the lap dog for ALL political folks in the county.

They have a track record of supporting 99.93% of ALL levies, tax increases, bonds without asking ANY questions!!

The are dying a rapid death!!