One year later: How area news consumption has changed since The Vindicator’s closing

Local News

Some news consumers were concerned about a hole in news coverage when The Vindicator shut down

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Monday marks the one year anniversary of The Vindicator closing its Youngstown newsroom and press.

The newspaper still exists, but it’s now a joint venture with the Tribune Chronicle out of Warren.

Here’s a look at all that has changed in one year.

Mitch Davis is the news director of WKBN.

“I think the Tribune has made a noble attempt,” Davis said.

Todd Franko was editor of The Vindicator.

“The only thing different was the orange Tribune Chronicle tag. I was really proud of those folks,” Franko said.

Brenda Linert is editor of the combined Vindicator and Tribune Chronicle.

“Much better than I expected, I think,” Linert said.

Outside the Tribune Chronicle building in Warren, vending machines for both newspapers sit side by side. Initially though, there were circulation issues with the new Vindicator.

“You don’t usually worry about increasing your phone lines overnight and we had to. So yeah, there were definite growing pains for a while,” Linert said.

But from a news perspective, Linert says the Trib-Vindy combo worked from the start.

“Largely because we brought on some very good staff members — a lot of people that did work at The Vindicator,” Linert said.

Closing the old Vindicator helped WKBN.

“We saw significant increases in digital traffic to our website. We saw significant viewership once we launched a 7 p.m. news shortly after,” Davis said.

Franko says closing the old Vindicator meant less watchdog reporting, and that was a negative.

“You think about what’s happening with some of our school districts and some of our police departments. I think there’s a need for watchdog reporting within the journalism world that’s still here,” Franko said.

“I think we’re still doing what we did previously and more watchdog reporting. I think for the consumers of news in the market, I think watchdog reporting is still there,” Davis said.

Some news consumers were concerned about a hole in news coverage when The Vindicator shut down, but Linert says that hole has been closed.

“I believe that we did, I believe that our readers think that we did,” Linert said.

Davis says there was never a hole, but the way people get their news has changed.

“Readers of The Vindicator moved to a digital consumption model,” Davis said.

Franko now works for an organization called Report for America, which he calls the Habitat for Humanity of journalism. He raises money to support journalism, primarily through philanthropic means.

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