In this week’s -30-: The End of the News, we head to the Midwest, to Ohio, where in just two years, two critical papers have shuttered completely and five outlets have faced layoffs, shrinking these newsrooms and its resources substantially, as Google, Apple, and Facebook rake in the profits. The demise of Ohio’s press is symbolic of the greater crisis facing local communities and our nation as a whole: the decimation of the news industry at the hands of big tech. To highlight this burgeoning epidemic, the Save Journalism Project, today is releasing a new heat map, tracing lay-offs, buyouts, and closures across the nation. See one we’ve missed? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
After celebrating its 150th anniversary, the Youngstown Vindicator, Ohio’s oldest newspaper, closed its doors, leaving more than 40 journalists without a job. Unfortunately, Youngstown became the largest U.S. city to date without a newspaper. For a paper that investigated rampant political corruption and police brutality, the closure leaves a void in the community, and many citizens uninformed.
Todd Franko, editor of the Vindicator, noted on the announcement of the paper’s closing, “This gentleman bought us a round, and from across the room, he bellowed, ‘Thank you for what you’ve done for us.’…Similar encounters happened Friday night at the downtown amphitheater and Saturday morning at breakfast. It’s echoing on Facebook as well, which is ironic because it’s Facebook that, in a way, created the revenue problem that led to Friday’s closure news. If you’re consistent readers of this space, the problem of our looming demise is not a new topic. The past several years, I’ve touched on it a few times per year in different ways, like explaining smaller sections and curling newspapers that have raised your ire.”
According to John Stanton, former DC bureau chief for BuzzFeed – who was laid off in January – and co-founder of the Save Journalism Project, “The Vindicator along with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch, Akron Beacon Journal, The Plain Dealer, Canton Repository, and the Jackson County Times-Journal not only covered community deaths, weddings and high school football games, these papers and journalists were ingrained in Ohio’s communities, while investigating local corruption to hold authority to the highest standard. Now, Google, one of the main culprits of these papers’ demise, is trying to lay down roots in Youngstown to produce and ultimately control local news in this town. This offense is not to be taken lightly since big tech is again meddling with something that doesn’t belong to them. It certainly does not clean their slate, and absolutely does not fill a void for those who have lost their jobs because big tech was greedy. Journalists can no longer be pawns to big tech’s rise to power when there is a threat to democracy and a loss of local news.”