Community forum explores future of local news without The Vindicator
Forum organizers say a lot of good ideas were shared and they plan to keep the conversation going until they truly figure out the impact the loss will have.
More than 150 people packed the Tyler History Center Tuesday night to discuss the future of local news without The Vindicator, which is planning to stop the presses August 31st.
"I teach a brainstorming session as part of my classes at YSU and I always tell students when you're brainstorming, its not about the evaluation of ideas but the generation of ideas and that's what this was tonight, it was the generation of ideas," said Adam Earnhardt, who is the Chairman of the YSU Communications Department.
Nearly three dozen people spoke at the forum, some offering a personal story, well wishes to the employees and others trying to find a way to help.
"We can not lose this paper, we have to keep our paper," said Holly Stevens.
One man wondered if the paper could be city owned or turned into a non-profit.
"People who were paying for their subscriptions or buying at the stores, could make donations to try and save it and have tax deductible donations to go into forming a non-profit that could possibly be owned by the employees," said Michael Harvey.
Another man urged the community to start a capital campaign and get ten percent of the community to buy a yearly subscription which would bring in revenues over $1.25 million.
"We sit back reactively with ideas on waiting for some savior to come through. I'm speaking from an action standpoint that says stop deciding one or the other and choose both and get your phones out right now and go to The Vindicator website," said Derrick McDowell.
While many focused on trying to save The Vindicator, the impending reality is, it likely can't be saved. In a time when journalism is needed more than ever, several news organizations spoke about trying to fill the void including WFMJ-TV.
Justin Mitchell, the Managing Editor for WFMJ says the station was already in the process of expanding its digital presence.
"To make up for the loss with the newspaper, we now plan on accelerating that process, hiring more digital reporters, providing content this market has never even seen before and converging our online presence with our newscasts," said Mitchell.
Earnhardt says they have reached out to the Knight Foundation to see about possible grants to help fill the gap in local journalism with the loss. He also says more forums will be held in the future to keep the conversation going.
"I heard nothing but positive ideas, ways to move forward," said Earnhardt. "I think we heard from everybody, community members, community leaders, community activists. Again, kind of overwhelmed with all the ideas."