Over the years, Scene has been accused of every terrible sin short of inventing the dress sock. We’ve ruined reputations and relationships, cost people their jobs, and—for those who have strayed too far into the back pages of our magazine—furthered the spread of genital warts. But last week, we broke new ground with our story about a teen sex scandal in Massillon
: Scene, ladies and gentlemen, has maligned an entire city. ...
An article about underage sex at a high school is bound to stir up controversy. Especially if it centers on a small town like Massillon. Double especially, then, if it involves high school football, which is to that town what random shootings are to Cleveland — its heart and soul. So I wasn’t surprised to receive one
or even two
livid letters condemning the article and accusing me of shoddy reporting.
But when Bob Russ, an editor of the Canton Repository, penned an entire op-ed
lambasting the story as “incredibly stupid" “ridiculous," and “outrageous," that caught me off guard.
Russ apparently didn’t like the concept of exposing a town’s rumors before indictments are handed down: “What is this, an urban legend or a news story?”
But mostly, he was appalled at my portrayal of Massollin as a one-trick pony:
Then, to be sure he completely undercut his credibility, Garcia-Roberts characterizes Massillon as a dead town, except for its football program. The high school football players "repay Massillon with success and achievement, things the city has struggled to produce on its own for decades."
Here comes the clincher: "Once a thriving factory town and home to a Republic Steel plant, Massillon was stripped bare by a mean economy that left Buffalo Wild Wings as the most bustling enterprise around. Tiger football, it seems, is the only thing Massillon has left."
When I read that, I just about spit my coffee out my nose.
ARE YOU CRAZY?
Has Garcia-Roberts ever visited Massillon? If he has, he knows that what he wrote has a certain barnyard smell to it.
Fact: In the last 10 years, among Northeast Ohio cities, Massillon is one of the leaders in new housing starts.
Fact: Fifty years ago, Massillon was basically a steel town. It has since diversified its industrial base. Heinz, ARE, Sterilite Corp., U.S. Chemical and Plastics, Fresh Mark, and Omni Die Casting are all operating in the city, with dozens of other businesses started in the last 20 years.
Fact: The city has doubled in size in the last 25 years through an aggressive annexation policy.
Fact: Seven years ago, the city had one "big-box" store: Kmart. Now there are Wal-Mart, Giant Eagle, Target, Home Depot, PetSmart and numerous other retail businesses — all located within the city's corporate limits.
Fact: The city's downtown is vibrant and alive, bustling with people during the day and the site of numerous concerts, car drive-ins and other events that draw large crowds.
But sometimes, people don't let facts get in the way of their story.
I’m certainly not the first reporter to suggest that Massllon has suffered from layoffs
. And while I won’t argue that the businesses Russ lists don’t exist, I’ll take to my grave the assertion that in the time I spent tooling around Massillon city, Buffalo Wild Wings was indeed the most bustling enterprise in the town center. Not that there’s anything strange about that; have you tried their Chicken Caesar Buffalito? -- Gus Garcia-Roberts