Apr 25, 2024 - News

Cedar Point bans hometown newspaper from media day

Illustration of a stack of newspapers with a siren on top.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Cedar Point hosted its annual media day Thursday to give outlets across the Midwest a preview of the rides and attractions that guests can expect this season.

Why it matters: For the first time ever, the amusement park's hometown paper, the Sandusky Register, was not in attendance.

  • Cedar Point denied the outlet access for unspecified reasons.

What they're saying: "It is no exaggeration to say we have brought hundreds of thousands of eyeballs to Cedar Point over the years through the annual Media Day event," the Register's publisher and its general manager wrote in a statement published in the paper.

  • "Being purposely excluded from attending this event is an unacceptable move from a fellow community pillar."

The intrigue: In recent years, the Register, under editor Matt Westerhold, has produced watchdog coverage of the park's private police force — disbanded in 2022 — and the aftermath of the 2021 Top Thrill Dragster incident.

The latest: More recently, Westerhold tells Axios, the paper critically covered a potential merger with Six Flags and the negative impacts it could have on shareholders, many of whom are local to Sandusky or elsewhere in Ohio.

  • The merger was emblematic of "the rotting ethics inside corporate boards of directors," shareholder Doug Rachlin told the Register in the story that Westerhold suspects was the precipitating factor in the media day ban.

The other side: Cedar Point did not respond to Axios' request for comment seeking clarity on the Register's ban.

  • Sandusky residents remain fiercely loyal to the park, the city's largest business and tax revenue generator.
  • Nearly 400 comments are on the Register's Facebook post regarding its media day ban, most of them critical of the paper and perceived "lopsided coverage."

The bottom line: Westerhold tells Axios that "what's good for Cedar Point is good for Sandusky" but says the paper will not abdicate its watchdog role.

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