Adi, Krish, TJX and the 2018 Vindy

In getting 2019 started, we spent a ton of newsroom time this week sifting through our 2018.

The work was to offer up our best of 2018 for the Ohio Associated Press Awards. It’s the Oscars or Golden Globes of our industry.

Ohio is one of the best newspaper states in the country in terms of quantity and quality. So our work gets measured against tough competition.

Going through the work took my mind back to the many conversations I had at the end of the year with some readers. We made adjustments to the size of The Vindicator print edition, which upset some readers. It’s smaller. All U.S. newspapers are smaller today – even the New York Times.

Many phone calls ensued. One conversation represented many of the calls. She was a spry, quick-witted Struthers reader who wanted a few pounds of flesh from me.

“I’m paying more and getting less” was her gist. She chipped away for a few minutes along this theme. (It’s on our Facebook page if you want to have a fun listen. Check under “Video.”)

I asked if I could speak. When she allowed, I used her as a comparison to us. My point to her: She was older. She is less than she was in certain ways.

“But are you less valuable?” I asked very, very delicately. “You still have a lot to contribute,” I attested as I gathered my flesh she had just torn through. “So does your daily newspaper,” I finished.

With that, she changed her perspective and her cancellation plans – agreeing that both she and her newspaper still are of value amidst lessened capacities.

Sifting through our 2018 work this week validated that thought. Honestly, our work seems to move so much faster in our compressed world. Some of these events seemed years ago. Yet they were just 2018:

Little for me has been as audacious as the deportation case of Youngstown businessman Al Adi. Chip as you will at events when he entered America 40 years ago, what he’d done in Youngstown is outstanding. The lack of humanity our own government demonstrated was as sickening as I’ve seen.

I wish we had hidden camera of Gov. Kasich when – over the course of a few days – his bold education move in Youngstown seemed fried. His top commission members Brian Benyo and Jen Roller abruptly quit. Then within days, some of the cause of their concern, schools CEO Krish Mohip, showed up on four job searches across America. Alas, school still happened.

Youngstown is beleaguered by nonlocal property owners with sketchy programs for local citizens. The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. and ACTION took one company – Vision Property Management – to task. A busload of “had enough” leaders and citizens trekked to Vision offices in South Carolina to seek changes. They then went one better and marched into the neighborhoods of Vision’s two corporate executives. It was one of my favorite events of 2018.

How Liberty’s Loraine Lynn died is one of those events that needed a longer look. She was murdered in 2017, said the Trumbull County coroner. And she was twice the victim due to shoddy police investigation. Local media could have been more vigilant, too, including us. The Vindicator team got a second chance to revisit the case in 2018. Watch for more from this in 2019.

TJX is coming to Lords-town, and that process was fascinating. While I no doubt wanted the jobs to come here, I was a fan, too, of the opposition. It’s the American opportunity that allows them to band together, fight back, create a voice and then manage the project to a different outcome than what was being thrown at them. There’s a how-to lesson there for future developments.

The DoubleTree Hotel in the former Stambaugh Building and the $10 million federal grant for a downtown overhaul were two huge wins for the city.

I could go on with 10 more significant events ... Lordstown GM, city corruption and more. So many times, The Vindicator reporting team either led the way in covering or had a front-row seat for the news. Real news. Not fake.

Our federal leadership shows little promise for clarity and reason in 2019. President Trump wants to fight anyone. It’s with such ferocity that it’s easy to wonder: What is he hiding?

The Democrats are ready to fight with new House of Representative powers – and new use of curse words. Trump 2020 opponents are emerging now, including possible GOP challenges from Gov. Kasich and others. Other Republican officials can’t figure out if they are with Trump or forced to be with Trump.

Trump, sadly, cannot be believed any more. I want to believe folks such as Sens. Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham. But that’s becoming a challenge as partisan debate intensifies.

Your 2019 filter is U.S. journalism – especially from daily newspapers.

That filtering is vital for a good base of citizenry. Many of our neighbors won’t seek it, sadly. They will instead find comfort in the clan living allowed on Facebook – seeing what they want to see and not what needs to be seen.

Journalism may be less these days. But it is no less powerful when it comes.

That’s what this week reminded me.

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