YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A lot of people want to save The Vindicator. Nonprofit employee ownership, securing endowment money and using volunteer reporters were some of the ideas mentioned at a community forum Tuesday night.
The crowd showed up at the Tyler History Center downtown — some with ideas, some with stories and some to say thanks for 150 years of a job well done.
In all, 160 people were there — the front row lined with current Vindicator reporters and anchored by Managing Editor Mark Sweetwood.
All past and present Vindicator employees were asked to stand. They were applauded, a moment bringing emotion for moderator Adam Earnheardt.
Others were emotional as well. Two women comforted each other with a long, consoling hug.
“We cannot lose this paper,” Holly Stevens said. “We have to keep our paper.”
“How are we not going to get along without this paper?” Katherine Powers asked.
There were also ideas on how to save it. One person suggested using citizen reporters to cover smaller meetings.
“And have tax-deductible donations to go into forming a nonprofit that could possibly be owned by the employees,” said Michael Harvey, of Youngstown.
“But I do believe there are certain beats at a newspaper that could lend themselves as to kind of an endowment model,” said Debora Flora, a former Vindicator reporter.
“In the final analysis, what needs to happen is a financial model that’s going to be sustainable,” said Chris Travers, of Youngstown.
Representatives from several media companies spoke, saying they’ll work to fill the void.
The Tribune Chronicle in Warren may have the best chance of replacing the print product since it already has a carrier system in place.
“If there is an opportunity for us to fill part of the void in the Valley, we want to try to do that,” said Charles Jarvis, a publisher at the Tribune Chronicle.
One of the evening’s most heartfelt speeches, followed by the loudest applause, came from 19-year veteran Vindicator reporter Sean Barron, who has autism. He said working at the newspaper helped him grow as a person.
“Working at The Vindicator has been an incredible experience for me, personally and professionally.”
WYTV General Manager Dave Coy issued a statement on The Vindicator closing:
WKBN-TV and WYTV remain committed to the best local news, weather and sports coverage we can provide to our local community. WKBN-TV has embarked on an aggressive digital strategy for the last several years. Within the last 12 months, our Digital First program includes an investment in additional digital personnel and resources. That will continue.
This investment has allowed us to stream newscasts, local sports events and provide live coverage online of severe weather events.
We also have innovative programs like MyValleyDeals.com and the very popular obituary program, MyValleyTributes.com.
In light of the recent announcement about the changing local media landscape, Nexstar and WKBN/WYTV will be committing even greater time, effort and resources to filling that void for critical news, information and entertainment in our Valley.