Closing a legacy


We begin to ramp up this week the closing process of The Vindicator as it’s been known for 150 years.

Closing the paper is a misfortune for those inside the newspaper just as it is in the greater community.

In some ways, the period has been inspiring in terms of all the goodwill and gratitude expressed from people – complete strangers, too.

I had breakfast at Thano restaurant the day after the closure was announced. I passed a person whose eyes got huge when he saw me. He said “I am so, so sorry for this happening knowing all you have done.”

That was inspiring. Then his wife chimed in: “You’re going to fix this, right?”

That brought a tear to my eye.

Sometimes in this period, humor has been helpful. In one group phone conversation a couple weeks back, folks asked about the feedback I was getting. I said “Well, if you’re blessed to have the chance to live through your funeral, you’re going to like it. You’ll finally hear how loved you are.”

Our final edition will be Saturday, Aug. 31.

It will be a commemorative edition – celebrating our 150 years and celebrating the region. Expect a time capsule sort of edition.

There will be a special purchase plan. Watch for our announcements.

Among the themes we are compiling for that edition:

Our staff from sports, photos, features and news will compile the most significant stories of those subjects.

Special Vindy content areas such as comics, crime and commentary will be featured.

One overlooked area of paper in terms of readership is advertising. Sometimes, ads are not noted as content. But advertisements over the years are a measure of how we’ve evolved as a community and as a paper. We plan to have a fun reflection on Vindy advertisements over our history.

One part of our publishing history that people most remember and talk about is the Rotogravure section. It truly was the mainstay of The Vindy brand for several decades. Our last edition will showcase that great history.

Visual gurus Bill Lewis and Robert McFerren are collaborating on a collage of all things Vindy from around our office. That will be the lead A1 image.

This is a commemorative Vindy edition that none of us has been part of before, nor would we have chosen to be. But life works out that way sometimes. It’s cower or carry on. I’m glad to be around folks who can muster the will to carry on.

There is one thing working out nicely for Vindy readers amid all of this closure news. It touches on the same theme of “not done this before.”

On Friday, it was announced that the Tribune Chronicle of Warren has purchased key components of The Vindicator, specifically the name, the subscriber list and the Vindy.com website. That is good news for the region. They are good people over there, and their purchase will ensure some jobs for some of The Vindy team.

It also ensures some version of a newspaper will remain for Youngstown-Mahoning County citizens.

We might be the largest city in America to have its newspaper close.

We now could be the largest one to get back a daily newspaper.

But make no mistake: The purchase is not a complete replacement of what The Vindicator has provided, and our closure is a result of trickle-down disinvestment that is affecting all newspapers across America, including in Warren.

The community can only keep this second chance if we invest as advertisers and as subscribers.

People have asked me often the last several weeks, “How did this happen?”

It’s followed with “Why didn’t you raise prices or cut costs?”

I laugh and say we did. Each time we did, we got crushed with hate phone calls about “too expensive and too small.”

The Valley never got a second bite at steel. The jury’s out if we get a second bite at autos.

But we will get a second chance at a daily newspaper.

Hopefully, it goes differently.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at tfranko@vindy.com. He blogs, too, on Vindy.com. Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.

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