Vindy and ‘the best shale coverage’

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“The state took over drilling, and we’re not kept informed.

“I’ve gotten more information in the past two days from The Vindicator on this than I have from anyone else.”

That’s from Youngstown Mayor Chuck Sammarone.

His comment came in the days after the Dec. 31 earthquake that got everyone’s attention — from the Valley to the Statehouse to the nation’s capital.

By then, the issue already had topped our attention.

For us, it was earthquake No. 7 in late October that redirected us. From that moment on, we’ve been dogged in our pursuit of the best information regarding what is really at hand here.

And that’s why I wanted to pause a moment and dissect a bit what is being presented to you, and hope that maybe you, too, will agree with the mayor — that your best information is coming from The Vindicator.

For us, most of our reporters and editors have had to learn the difference between fracking and injection wells, Patriot and D&L, vertical and horizontal drilling and more.

We’ve been blessed that one of our newest reporters, Karl Henkel, also has been one who has grasped the issue incredibly well. He’s also remained extremely flexible and well-read as our understanding grew. So flexible that when the big quake struck on New Year’s Eve, Karl was taking time off in Michigan. We did not have to find him. He found us because all the sources he had developed over the three months as we put the focus on D&L operations for the earthquakes — those sources all called him. By the time we touched base, the sources we needed already had contacted Henkel.

Still holding onto that weekend for just a minute, other Vindy staffers paused from walks in the park, family events and even a good nap to make the quake news happen.

Our resulting news coverage in that first hour on surpassed 100 new readers per minute for 60 minutes. For the nine-hour window until the 2012 ball dropped, more readers went to than they did for our most active previous events, including Kelly Pavlik’s peak moments as champion, and some of our most- tragic news events.

Joining us in our coverage have been a handful of citizens of various interests and expertise. One of the most engaged has been Girard’s Mike Costarella.

Our first extended encounter with Costarella involved hunting down the D&L injection well last fall and figuring out exactly where it was and its proximity to the earthquakes. It was our “aha” moment that launched our aggressive reporting of what was going on there.

We created a special website, Shale Sheet, to showcase the most- important business opportunity the Valley’s encountered in many, many decades.

We’re not the only company — media or otherwise — to jump on the shale ship.

From energy companies to water-quality experts to lawyers and to other media, we’re awash in everyone positioning themselves for this gas rush.

Somewhat quirky is a current television insurance ad. It’s a normal TV ad, until the end when the agent kind of rattles around a window frame asking if you felt that earthquake and says you’d better check on your insurance rates.

I believe we have a great future with the shale-gas industry.

But I’m extremely cautious of how we proceed in lieu of the earthquakes, haphazard government oversight and other issues.

The community will have to rely on trusted eyes to steer us between fact and fiction. Or even frack and friction.

From our coverage of the local drilling issues to covering a fracking conference in D.C., The Vindicator continues to seek out all avenues to continue to establish itself as a trusted source. And we have plans to further that definition in the coming weeks and months.

It’s nice that our first efforts have the endorsement of a guy who has the title of mayor.

Related link: - Shale Sheet

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at He blogs, too, on

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