Monday, July 1, 2013


When one lacks the knowledge or courage to get specific and directed in writing or speech, the alternative is to tail off with the vague generality "blah, blah, blah ... ."

When it comes to getting pointed with members of the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly (OGA) over "chapter and verse" legislative deficiencies on their part, such is what Stark Countians generally experience at the hand of the county's only countywide newspaper editorial board and to a certain extent, the executive-editor-directed focus of the reporter staff.

That is the thought that came to mind as the SCPR's took in The Rep's recent editorial (Bureaucracy 1, common sense 0, 06/27/2013) about how Plain Township taxpayers will have to spend a totally unjustifiable $100,000 because of a defect in Ohio's building code law.

The lead line under Reason No. 1 in the editorial:  "Someone should have known ... ."

Someone? The equivalent of:  "blah, blah, blah ...," no?

Maybe just maybe - in a specific accountability mode - :  the editors' should have named state Senator Scott Oelslager (R-the 29th-Plain), state Reps Christina Hagan (R-the 50th-Marlboro), Kirk Schuring, (R-48th-Jackson) and Stephen Slesnick (D-49th-Canton)?

These are folks who, when they sponsor a bill to name a section of a highway that runs through Stark County or to authorize the issuance of license plates to recognize the Massillon Tigers and the like, send out their press releases and which The Rep pretty much prints word-for-word.

This is the kind of stuff that a newspaper like The Hartville News dutifully prints and makes it very clear that such is what it is doing.

For The Rep, these press releases often come off having been the work product of a vigorous news gathering organization.

But generally it is not.

What it is amounts to is:  a "feet up on the desk; this is like falling off a wet log journalism" type of newspaper operation that anyone with journalistic experience could do with ease.

Canton's only newspaper can't even seem to get all over the likes of Scott Oelslager who inserted in the Ohio's budget bill (HB 59) a provision curtailing Ohioans (and, of course, Stark Countians) knowing what local governments are up to with taxpayer dollars in negotiating economic development packages.

Such is telling inasmuch as ensuring "openness in government" is supposed to be a prime mission of newspapers.

The editors did ask the governor to line-item-veto the measure.

Guess what he did?

He left it in!

The Rep and the Ohio Newspaper Association has so little clout these days that Kasich felt he could politically afford to blow them off without a second thought.

When The Rep brought in a new executive editor (Therese Hayt, October 2012), one could only hope that she would begin to turn our only local broadly based newspaper around to a state of more effectiveness.

Here is what Brad Dennison (GateHouse Media vice president of publishing, who oversees The Repository and  said of Hayt (on the occasion of her appointment as Rep executive editor:
[She] is one of the best newspaper editors out there.
“We are fortunate to have her as executive editor of The Repository and GateHouse Ohio, and our readers are in for a treat, ... I think you can expect to see more enterprising project journalism with Teri at the helm, and I have no doubt our watchdog status will be kicked up another notch — that’s a real strength of hers.”  (emphasis added)

"[N]o doubt our watchdog status will be kicked up another notch - that's a real strength of hers."


When are Stark Countians going to see it.

As far as the SCPR is concerned, the Bureaucracy 1, common sense 0 editorial is a current indication that nothing has changed at The Rep since the days of Jeff Gauger.

So it appears to The Report that under Hayt, Stark's only countywide newspaper will continue to be respecters of persons and fearful of offending day-in, day-out news sources (i.e. public officials), and keep its editorializing and reporting at a banal, safe level.

Apparently, the beat is to continue a la:

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah ... ad infinitum?

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