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New ‘Neighbors’ newspaper builds on the Vindy franchise



Published: Sun, December 13, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)


By Todd Franko

We’re always looking for new and better ways to do our jobs at The Vindicator and serve the Valley.

The latest is Neighbors, a new weekly newspaper from our Special Sections department.

We introduced it Saturday to residents of Austintown, Canfield, Boardman and Poland. For subscribers in those towns, it was inserted into their Saturday Vindicator. For residents of those towns who do not (yet) subscribe to The Vindicator, Neighbors was delivered to their homes.

This is something we’ve wanted for years — a weekly newspaper to complement our coverage in our core towns. As our baby steps into this new venture grow into a jog and then eventually a sprint, we’d love for the Neighbors franchise to grow to other towns as well.

Why start a weekly newspaper?

Though the daily newspaper and its Web counterpart play a vital role in gathering and disseminating news and advertising information, the sheer geography — five counties and two states — causes us to maintain a certain news threshold so that New Castle, Pa., readers, say, don’t have to wade through Poland school-lunch menus.

It’s not that we don’t like school-lunch menus. We do. Our challenge is to maintain the interest of a broad spectrum of readers while also reporting on the day-to-day breaking-news items.

Plus, the staff time and news space required for very-local news is getting tougher to come by.

So we make choices about what gets in and what gets left out.

Here’s a good example:

We offer solid coverage of high school sports in The Vindicator that features more than 30 school districts. It requires a lot of staff and space. If we were to start covering junior-varsity, freshman and middle-school sports, we’d have to double our staffing and space. That’s just not feasible.

So we draw lines. We don’t like lines, but we need them in order to keep Vindicator access balanced for various groups.

We’ve long thought that if we can create a newspaper for individual hometowns, we would have a lot more space and flexibility for, say, middle- school and junior-varsity sports ... and honor rolls ... and Rotary Club events ... and local youth sports.

With Neighbors, we now have that.

Similarly, for advertising, because we serve five counties and distribute to 60,000 people, a pizzeria or hair salon in Austintown — whose client base comes from a two-mile radius — has to weigh the bang-for-the-buck if the only choice is to advertise to the entire audience of The Vindicator.

With Neighbors, we’re now the best buy for that business if they want to reach every resident in Austintown, Canfield, Boardman or Poland using a single-print product from a time- proven, respected local company.

That puts us right in direct competition with direct-mail and coupon books. They are no match to a family-friendly, portable advertising product such as a newspaper.

Another cool aspect of Neighbors is that it is the first product to come from our multimillion-dollar investment in a new printing press.

The press has some further refinement to come, but the first glance at Neighbors shows that the new Vindicator to debut in 2010 will be a dynamic change for our loyal readers.


Comments

1ubotherme(53 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

it was really blah. if i want to read that stuff, i'll pick up the town crier.

i can't even say it was a nice try.

i might have gone for it IF it wasn't connected to the vindicator.

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2ytownpunk(26 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

So let's get this straight... Austintown, Poland, Canfield and Boardman are the only communities deemed worthy of having their community news being published. If you live in Struthers, Campbell, Lowellville or Youngstown....well the Vindy doesn't care about your school's lunch menu (lame by the way) or little league pictures.

I also like how the paper announced that they created more SPACE for this stuff, but you don't see anything about the STAFFING being bumped up. So are we to believe that the daily product will be watered down because staffers are chasing after quilting bee pictures? If I were a betting man that would be my guess.

The Vindicator will soon become the nation's largest weekly community paper. Only it will publish daily.

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3Reader_2009(1 comment)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

So let's get this straight. The Town Crier delivered door-to-door for all these people for years and has now moved to business delivery to cut costs and all the wasting of materials delivering to those that aren't interested in local news. Now the Vindicator thinks that they can provide something that the Town Crier hasn't learned how to do in all this time?? As usual, the Vindicator copies other newspaper's ideas and will fail at this attempt as they have all the others. I'll pick up my Town Criers every week as usual. Maybe I'll grab a Neighbor for kindling.

Why doesn't this paper try to come up with something original? Maybe then they could compete against all these other papers. Good luck with that.

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4Tigerlily(494 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

I can understand the need to draw lines between, say, the Mahoning Valley and New Castle. But, sir, you are trying to evade the glaring absence of Youngstown from your new production.

I am not surprised, though. It's so disappointing to see a newspaper located in the downtown of Youngstown that simply does anything and everything to avoid serving the public body in which it exists.

Why doesn't the Vindy (former Youngstown Vindicator) relocate to one of these "core towns" that it serves, and just make its severance from Youngstown official? I'm exhausted by the false language used to avoid the "Vindy's" blatant disrespect for Youngstown. Just be honest.

And if this isn't the case, then please provide us with an explanation as to why Youngstown isn't good enough to be a part of "Neighbors"? It seems to be when Ursuline or Mooney teams win something. Is that because so many of those students actually live in the "core towns" you serve?

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5toddfranko(101 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Tiger:
Youngstown coverage dominates our newspaper -- unfairly so, some observers could easily argue, when you consider the number of newspapers sold in the city vs. the number sold in the "core towns."
Youngstown schools, city council, YSU, the many Youngstown-based community service organizations, the many churches, the cultural organizations, the many businesses based in Youngstown, etc.
"Youngstown" disappeared from the title some years ago. But the headlines tell a different story in terms of hom much coverage the city gets.
"Neighbors" is a measured response for communities that do not have the coverage draws noted above.
Todd

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6Maggie_Pentz(86 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Well...if this is being done in part to cover junior high sports, can we expect to see Youngstown Jr. high sports coverage? Also, can we get the name returned to "The Youngstown Vindicator" now since this is back to being our paper? And you can call the coverage of the suburbs in past years "unfairly" lacking but I have to disagree. Sure there hasn't been room for lunch menus but, seriously, should there be? Return "Youngstown" back to your name and quit pandering to the suburbs. Oh and I am looking forward to seeing the Youngstown City Schools lunch menu in the Youngstown Vindicator.

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