Strudders proud

Kalea Hall represents how it used to work so well for communities and the daily newspapers that serve them.

You grow up with your daily newspaper in the house.

As a child, you’d first learn the importance of the newspaper when the house elders wondered of its arrival, and their disgust if it was not in its precise place at its precise time.

You’d then see parents and grandparents sharing it around the kitchen or living room.

Lengthy conversation – joyful or not – would ensue over the text and photos displayed for the family.

One person would fold up the paper and intensely scribble letters into boxes to form words.

Others would laugh at cartoon characters on another page.

Then your first job would be delivering that newspaper as a young teen.

This routine would steadily wear into the soul – a steady flow of words passing endlessly like a river that winds along the bottom of a valley.

Some jump in.

The Vindicator’s newsroom is a collection of folks of various ages who followed that path as others did for generations over our 149 years of life.

While it happens less these days as our media habits change and newspapers change with it, we’re blessed to have some recent graduates walking such steps. Of them, Kalea was kinda the boss. Ask them; ask her.

She’s Kalea Hall from Struthers – as outsiders must say. But if you’re from there, it’s proudly “Strudders.” Kalea was among Struthers’ proudest – exuding both the grit and the fierce loyalty common to those from there.

If you’ve read stories on GM, the HomeGoods/Lordstown issue, the new downtown hotel, the airport, the fair and more. That’s Kalea.

That all ends as she starts a new life in Michigan – graduate school and more newspaper work. True to the Struthers grit – she left us Friday and starts there Monday. There’s no day off in Struthers.

That legacy, loyalty and pride shone through in her letter of resignation to us this week. Most people write two or three sentences when they depart. Then there’s Kalea from Strudders:

Dear Todd ...

Writing this letter will be the most difficult task I’ll complete in my career.

By chance my hometown paper was hiring five years ago when I was about to graduate college and I had to apply. The Vindicator was the paper I read to my grandmother as a child. It’s the paper I rolled up, put into a bright orange bag and placed on front porches. From that young age, I discovered the importance of newspapers and realized I wanted to be a reporter. It was The Vindicator’s presence in my life that began my passion for fact finding and informing.

I walked into The Vindicator newsroom as a good reporter who didn’t realize her capabilities. In these five years, I’ve become a smarter, fiercer, bolder reporter. I’ve told countless stories – both of struggle and triumph – that are now forever ingrained in the history of Youngstown. Telling these stories was an honor I still cannot believe was bestowed on me. I’ll forever be grateful for having the opportunity to be an investigator, informer and storyteller for The Vindicator.

For so long, The Vindicator was a part of my family and then I became a part of its newsroom family.

Now, it’s time for me to take on a new challenge and leave The Vindicator for another reporting job and to go to Michigan State University for my master’s degree in journalism.

I plan to be a journalist for the rest of my life and I can thank The Vindicator for first showing me the importance of journalism and training me to be the best reporter I can be for the people.

With my utmost gratitude,

Kalea Hall

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. He aspires to hire people like Kalea Hall. Email him at Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.