March 28, 2023

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Hutch News Writes Love Letter to Former Editor-Turned-Representative

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The Hutchinson News wrote a glowing story about Hutchinson state Rep. Jason Probst. The Democrat stepped down as the Hutchinson News Opinion Editor to replace Rep. Patsy Terrell, who died in office during the 2017 legislative session. Probst received kinder coverage than most lawmakers receive from the newspaper.

Rep. Jason Probst, D-Hutchinson

The Democratic legislator hosted a community forum, where the Hutch News reported he found 30 happy constituents with almost no complaints. Headlined, “Probst hears changes desired,” it reports that Probst found a “lot more agreement” at the event.

The story was a love story compared to how the Hutchinson News has covered legislative forums in the past. While the Probst story begins with the lawmaker describing what a great event it was, coverage of a 2016 forum that featured several lawmakers begins with constituents asking difficult questions, and Rep. Joe Seiwert scrambling for answers.

“How much control should the state leave to local government was a repeated them of a legislative forum Saturday at Mennonite Friendship Communities in South Hutchinson,” the March 20, 2016, story (link unavailable) reads. “…Rep. Joe Seiwert of the 101st District said the question was too broad.”

The recent legislative forum story says attendees “had a sympathetic listener” in Probst. Though some attendees said they were frustrated about high taxes, the lawmaker told the crowd of about 30 people that he likes dedicated taxes, but that Hutch has hit the “ceiling for sales taxes.”

Still, he told constituents he supports a sales tax initiative that will add a quarter-cent sales tax to fund streets and sidewalks.

Constituents walked away from the event pleased, the paper reported. One called the event “informative,” and another said she learned so much from the discussion.

The paper did note its former employee was stumped at one point during the forum–when a participant suggested that Hutchinson needs better weather.

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