Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rep Blocks Comments on Production Deal with City Hall

Speaking of comments...

I Hate Canton knows that stupid (or insane) comments are the bane of every editior. It's quite another story, though, when we see that comments, with no explanation, weren't even an option for Saturday's controversial Canton Quarterly Magazine Produced in Partnership with GateHouse Ohio.

According to Rep City Hall reporter Ed Balint, the paper has taken over advertising, design, production and distribution of the City Hall-generated Canton Connection magazine. Mayor William J. Healy II is the publisher and Adam Herman, the mayor’s communications director, is managing editor. The publication, under the name of Canton Quarterly, (see Spring 2008 edition here), started in 2006 under the reign of Republican Janet Weir Creighton.

According to the agreement:

The city is responsible for all of the written content and has final approval before the pages are printed, said Chris White, general manager and senior vice president of marketing and sales for The Repository. Photographs and artwork are to be provided by GateHouse Ohio...

and more:

Savings will be realized in changes in distribution and how the vendor is compensated for losses, according to a city memo from the selection committee. In addition to advertising revenue, the city agrees to subsidize the vendor up to $5,000 per issue ($20,000 maximum per year) to finance the production and delivery costs. In December, council unanimously approved the one-year agreement with GateHouse Ohio; the city can extend the contract for one year by notifying the vendor by Sept. 30. In March, council unanimously approved accepting donations of $2,500 each from the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, ArtsinStark and the Stark-Tuscarawas-Wayne Joint Solid Waste Management District to fund portions of The Canton Connection in 2009.

Funding for the publication also includes $2,500 from the Police Department’s law enforcement trust fund and $10,000 in federal Housing and Urban Development funding.

Repository publisher Kevin Kampman assures us that unlike Cyndi Lauper's admonition "money changes everything," this special arrangement won't change a thing at the Rep. (We could be snarky here, but we won't, since I Hate Canton is nothing if not ladies and gentlemen.)

This business relationship does not involve our newspaper newsrooms and will not shape the independent coverage decisions made by GateHouse Ohio journalists.

The Repository-City Hall contract is not new news. Back on March 17, Martin Olson in his Stark County Political Report, reported this deal, including how it was brokered, in great detail. and questioned the Rep's silence on it. Olson, a local lawyer who is highly critical of what he perceives as the paper's lack of political news coverage and inappropriate relationship with city and county officials wrote:

[SCPR] [R]eaders have been amazed at the low key, extremely conservative and, at times, non-existent coverage (both reportorially and editorially) of Stark County controversies and/or issues (including the Healy matters) by The Repository - Stark County's ONLY major countywide news outlet.

The feeling is that The Rep has way too many cozy relationships with the personalities, businesses, organizations and government institutions that its reporters and editors cover.

The revelation of The Rep/Canton Connection connection does nothing but add to the suspicion or at least a perception on the part of many Stark Countians that The Rep has a lot of "sweatheart" [sic] relationships within Stark and that readers get jaundiced reports and editorials as a consequence.

It is not I Hate Canton's intention to re-hash Olson's blog. Read it for yourself. He's in a much better position to follow these events than we are. We do find it curious, though, that it took the Rep nearly two months to "break" its own story and then pre-emptively block reaction. The Rep can subject others to abuse, but can't take it.

1 comment:

Don Cirelli said...

Too bad they don't have an online version. Then they could print COMMENTS from anonymous sociopaths. Wouldn't that make for some interesting discussion? Maybe they'll print anonymous letters about public officials. Naaah! That sort of thing belongs on cantonrep. Huh, Jeff?