When you’re the news

The fuzzy photo you see here is not the greatest photo. But in some ways, it is.

The news that we are dealing with – the end of The Vindicator – is news that you all are dealing with, too – including this Girard gent in the photo.

Friday, with our night crew soldiering on to get Saturday’s paper printed, some on the dayside crew headed out for a beer to digest the closure news they’d just been handed. On the bar TV, the local news was still echoing the Vindicator closure. To some at the bar, it was clear who our group was.

This gentleman bought us a round, and from across the room, he bellowed, “Thank you for what you’ve done for us.”

The six of us nodded appreciatively and resumed our mourning.

An hour later, the gent came up and shared more affection, dissecting all that he loved about the paper. He then dissected my life, or at least the part I’ve shared in this space – my kids, my town, my sports, etc. He laid out how he’d read the Sunday paper and where this column fit in the order.

I asked, “You mind if I do this?” as I grabbed my phone and set us up for a selfie. He smiled all the way through.

Similar encounters happened Friday night at the downtown amphitheater and Saturday morning at breakfast. It’s echoing on Facebook as well, which is ironic because it’s Face-book that, in a way, created the revenue problem that led to Friday’s closure news.

If you’re consistent readers of this space, the problem of our looming demise is not a new topic. The past several years, I’ve touched on it a few times per year in different ways, like explaining smaller sections and curling newspapers that have raised your ire.

We raised your ire a lot. Some of it intentionally as we carried out our watchdog role in the best way we knew how. It was not always perfect. But over the course of a year and a lifetime, it was way more right for the Valley than it was wrong.

But we were also your births, deaths, weddings, sports, fundraisers, illnesses, business openings, graduations, fish fries and more.

It will end. It is happening here, and everywhere.

“When you lose your newspaper, you lose your heartbeat.” That was said not by someone here, but someone in Missouri where the same thing happened.

My breakfast host Saturday morning said this will have more of an impact than the Lordstown closure.

Newspaper closures will be as impactful, or more, as when banks started closing in 2008 and a bailout ensued. Are media worthy of bailouts? Would bailouts even work in an industry founded on strident independence?

There is much to sort out – for myself, for a community and, especially, for a loyal workforce that has aimed to serve. At the bar Friday, as staff sorted things out, some younger staffers said they were here till the end, then they would figure out their lives.

And it’s no doubt been toughest of all on my boss and his mother, Mark Brown and Betty Brown Jagnow. This was difficult news to deliver to us personally and to the community overall.

The pain many of us feel is magnified when it’s a real piece of your family.

It’s been 150 years. And we have 60 days left.

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