Frack protesters: Facts or farce?

It’s not often that you show up to a news event and find that you’re part of the news.

Don’t Frack Ohio staged a protest Monday in Warren with about 200 people from around the Valley and the state.

Spotted among the handful of signs was “We deceive; You believe.”

Above the words was, um, our logo.

“The Vindicator.”

A close look at the sign showed the original target of the sign was Fox News. You can see the faint colors of that logo under the printout of our logo.

But they chose to target the Vindy. To be clear, they had many targets. We were just one.

That was not the end of the surreality. A chant crawled out:

“Give us a fracking break, we don’t want another quake.

“Block the roads, shut the gates; we don’t want your toxic waste.

“Oil and gas, go back to Hell; we don’t want your injection well.

“Vindicator getting rich, by being oil industry’s b****.

“Vindicator spewing lies, because of oil industry ties.”

Wow ...

I guess, to hear it said aloud, “Vindicator” has a bit better cadence for the chant than “Fox News.” Our name vs. “Fox” in the world of protest chant -writing is like getting dealt ace-jack instead of four-seven.

But as for truth and reality, the sign and the chant are ridiculous to the level of insulting — like a four-seven.

Truth and reality are the Achilles heel of any protest effort, and ultimately cuts into any effort’s ability to court new believers. It’s not just a shame that the anti-frackers chose to take aim at us, it’s completely inaccurate.

First, I’d like to have all “that getting rich” stuff that they proclaim. Newspaper profits are tough to come by these days — in case you’ve not watched the Plain Dealer last week.

Second, “spewing lies” is a fairly pointed charge — and not absent of some harm and collateral effect.

I would say we are guilty of “spewing the complete story.”

And that’s what protesters of many issues often hate to hear — the complete story. Ignoring a complete story undermines one’s ability to be a complete contributor to society and articulate an issue.

Some protests lose even before they start because they swap facts for farce.

That’s the frack protesters’ problem.

But when they extend that personal misguidedness to actions that flat out call someone a liar and other unsurly things, now you’re affecting an honest workforce and economy.

Here’s the complete story of the Vindy and fracking to date:

We are very aware of the industry and have aggressively reported its arrival and expansion, no differently than we would the growth of U.S. 224 retail or Lordstown Cruzes.

That aggressive reporting sure has highlighted the promotion of many positives. It’s what a fair general media does.

But our work also has been tough on the industry.

I encourage you to look at yesterday’s story about aggressive landmen. In addition, look up these stories online:

April 28: Landowners face challenges over new leasing rules.

May 1: Proposal to transport frack waste on Ohio River.

July 7: Trumbull County gas and tempers flare.

Sept. 28: Disaster waiting to happen?

And all of this coverage is a backdrop to our award-winning coverage of the D&L earthquake issue. It was The Vindicator’s coverage — ridiculed by locals, state officials and even another veteran media person — that stoked the debate. When the big quake hit Dec. 31, 2011, state officials could not get on the phone quickly enough with our staff to explain what they now were going to do, even though they chided us for weeks.

The chiding of being too tough on the fracking industry even led to a spirited exchange between a current Vindy manager and a former one, who now helps promote the industry.

All of this amounts to:

Hate us for being balanced and complete.

But don’t chant “liars” and worse words when a complete look at the history shows the opposite.

It’s hurtful to the community and the merchants who have to decide every day if we are trustworthy.

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

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