New documentary tells story of Vindicator closure and its impacts on Youngstown

Local News

"Newstown" takes a look at how a local paper closing impacts a community, including how journalists keep everyone informed

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – What happens when a local newspaper shuts down? A new documentary takes a look at how the closing of the Youngstown Vindicator affected the Mahoning Valley.

“Newstown” is a 52-minute film. Thirty minutes of it was shown Wednesday during an online screening for the first time.

The film focuses on The Vindicator, which announced it was closing last summer after 150 years. The closure affected nearly 150 people.

The documentary is about the news business as a whole, but specifically on The Vindicator’s closure and how that impacted the City of Youngstown.

The writer, former Youngstown resident Craig Duff, interviewed everyone from national and local political leaders to journalists in and outside of Youngstown, including WKBN 27 First News digital reporter Joe Gorman, who used to work for The Vindicator.

Duff, who is now a professor at Northwestern, centered many of his interviews on how journalists are rallying to rescue news coverage in the Valley and still keep the community informed.

The screening was followed by a panel, which included Senator Sherrod Brown and Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown, who talked about how the closure has affected the city.

“I need something consistent,” Mayor Brown said. “I need to know where to go to find the information, and I want the facts. I don’t want the fear. I want the facts and I think that’s what happens when you don’t have that stable cornerstone in your community, like Youngstown, Ohio and The Vindicator.”

“It clearly damages a community,” Sherrod Brown said. “It means there’s not investigative reporters watching me, watching the business community, watching Tito Brown. There is not the community rallying around that a newspaper can illicit and help to cultivate. It’s one more hit to a town that is really resilient.”

According to research from the University of North Carolina, The Vindy was one of at least 300 local papers to close in the past two years.

You can watch the entire documentary online.

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