Another newspaper bites the dust
Another newspaper is biting the dust. This one is the 150-year old Vindicator, which has announced that it will halt publication as of August 31.
The Vindicator, which is centered in Youngstown, is not a small-town paper. It is the eighth largest newspaper in Ohio by circulation. Its closing will cost hundreds of jobs and leave the nearly 250,000 residents of Mahoning and Trumbull Counties without a daily newspaper.
The reason for the shutdown is financial. The paper has been bleeding circulation. Here the Vindicator is yet another casualty due to the problems afflicting print media in general. A study by the University of North Carolina School of Media and Journalism estimates that about 1,800 newspapers across the country have closed down since 2004. This is about 20 percent. The Vindicator closing has prompted the Wall Street Journal to ask if local newspapers are beyond saving. The UNC report is calling this hollowing out of newsprint, especially in non-urban areas, the "News Desert."
The Vindicator had to swim against this tide, and when finally exhausted, it went under. But one wonders if being out of step with its potential readership perhaps helped accelerate the paper's demise. For example, in 2016, the Vindicator endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, albeit "with much apprehension." Then, within a week later, Donald Trump won Trumbull County and came close to doing the same in Mahoning County.
Both these counties have been traditional Democratic strong points. Youngstown is the home base of Rep. Tim Ryan, now a second-tier contender for the Democrat presidential nomination. Prior to Ryan, the area was represented in Congress by Jim Traficant, from whom Ryan learned the political ropes as an aide. As for the election results, the Vindicator itself said, "Trump's performance was one for the record books" in these solidly Democratic areas.
This is by no means to say the endorsement of Clinton in 2016 was the final nail in the Vindicator's coffin. But maybe it was a telltale sign that the paper was stuck with a solidly Democratic attitude when many of its potential readers have moved on. Here, the history of the Vindicator may be of interest. It was founded in 1869. Its first edition called for the "speedy triumph" of Democratic Party principles and the rescue of government from the grasp of its "imperialistic assassins." This is noteworthy, given that just a few years earlier, the Civil War had just ended, and President Lincoln was himself assassinated.
In any event, the Vindicator will be greatly missed by its readership for the local news it carried.