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Dear Oprah, why do you want to kill newspapers?

By Todd Franko (Contact)

Published April 3, 2009

Dear Oprah:

Have you lost your soul? My mom thinks you have — and she’s your biggest fan.

I just think you’ve lost your memory.

Let me help you a bit. This was a news report last November:

“The Chicago Sun-Times reported that it printed an additional 350,000 papers Thursday after popular talk show host, Oprah Winfrey called the paper's Nov. 5 edition "The best paper in the world" on her show. The paper had already printed 500,000 copies the day before.  

You even had a Sun-Times guy on your show. Click here if you need a refresher.

So what the heck happened Thursday?

You let financial guru Suze Orman come on your show and tell your audience to cancel their newspaper subscriptions to save money.

Let me remind you of your audience: They do what you say.

I know. I have a wife, a mother and at least one sister-in-law who all follow your every move. My mom has a bookshelf in her house that should be labeled ”Oprah’s Bookshelf.” You wave it; she reads it.

After the Dow and Wal-Mart, you are the No. 3 economic force in America.

You so influence the lives of these women that I’ve been dying for an episode entitled “Mrs. Franko, it’s time for you to go back into the workforce” because my chats with my wife are certainly not working.  

What will you do if your fans go out today and cancel their newspaper?

Here’s an irony: Had this show aired in October, and your audience listened to you, you might not have had a Chicago Sun-Times in November to wave on TV to proclaim “the best paper in the world.”

I know you were in a pickle Thursday.

Suze’s nice and she’s tough. When my mom and my wife can’t watch you on TV, they watch Suze. So for them, Thursday was the female equivalent of the Super Bowl.

“Ma — bring extra guacamole; Oprah and Suze are on together. And some Bud Light.”

But you’re tough, too. I saw you when you walloped that author, James Frey. Overnight, he went from everywhere to nowhere.

With Suze, you would not have had to have been that tough. I do not want Suze to disappear like Frey. My mom and wife would not be happy. I prefer them happy.

Thankfully, they like when I am happy. What they would have liked you to do is stop Suze and talk about your fondness for newspapers, how in November, you had a newspaper guy on your show.

They would have also liked you to tout:
• the bad guys that newspapers go after when others can't or won’t.
• the resource newspapers are for common citizens when they have a concern.
• the family news that is showcased daily — from births to weddings to school honor rolls.
• the daily scrapbook newspapers are for communities across the country.

I could continue, but here’s what I ask:

Let me and four of my newspaper friends come on your show and put a face to the role of newspapers.

Others are stepping in to save newspapers. Colleges are creating newspaper cooperatives with their local paper to bolster dwindling resources. In Washington, one senator wants to allow newspapers to have a non-profit status. Heck, France is even considering government funding to support newspapers.

You can help, too.

While Suze was helpful in trying to help folks save a few bucks, the long-term impact of her advice is catastrophic. We will gladly show you.

My dream of coming on your show ends similarly to that car episode you had several years ago. You would jump up and down on the stage proclaiming:

You get a paper ..

And you get a newspaper ..

And you get a newspaper ..

And you get a newspaper ..

And you get a newspaper ..

And you get a newspaper ..

And communities across America would continue to be served by the one industry that’s stayed by them longer than cars, computers and daily talk show hosts.

Your friend and fan,

Todd Franko
The Vindicator
Youngstown, Ohio


1tnmartin(507 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

Sorry, Mr. Franko, but the newspapers are killing themselves.
Newspapers live and die on the basis of honesty and trust. And have been failing in that regard.
Report the news honestly and completely without fear or favor? Does anyone really believe that to be true any longer? I don't.
Let's talk in general first. I have had the privilege of doing business in many parts of these United States. In many cases, one must look at the masthead to find the difference between, say, the New York Times and the Boston Globe. Little difference between them in most content -- little more than propaganda and talking points from the most socialist/left wing elements of the Democrat Party. Much of the content is nothing more than copy-and-paste from the Associated Press. Part of that is due to some lousy chains - McClatchy and Gannett come to mind.
Why should anyone pay for the privilege of being lied to? When the business model assumes the denigration and mockery of values many, perhaps most Americans hold dear, do you expect success? We had an example right here, not long ago, when the Pope was castigated as a dismal failure for speaking the plain objective truth about condoms as a means of dealing with AIDS in Africa. He was right, and the Vindy was wrong. Again. MANY more examples might be found. People will not pay to be insulted.
Now some specifics.
I have read the Vindicator for more than 50 years now, my parents had it delivered every day. I've seen the paper estimate what politician was likely to win the election and then come out in support of that one, though the editors HAD to know the person was a scoundrel. I've watched as some of the most disgusting corruption and racketeering to be found, per capita, ANYWHERE in the nation went unreported or glossed over. (until the feds came in and hauled the miscreants off). Everything from zoning changes for sale to the unlicensed bars and gambling joints in Campbell, Struthers, Niles, and the city, to local judges with their own bagmen. You knew it, or should have, and so did a good bit of the citizenry, but it never quite made the pages.
This sort of thing is and has been going on all over. People are waking up to it. And realizing that, no matter the high-sounding words, the newspapers and other local media have been cheating us and lying by omission at least. People will not pay for that. And aren't.

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2leftofstr8(33 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

Unfortunately, Mr. Martin above would not be happy with any newspaper unless it was written with a republican bias. Newspapers are one of the few remaining bastions of truth and investigative reporting available. Do they get things wrong on occassion, sure, do they find things that most media miss, definitely!

I will agree with one point of the above Mr. Martin, due to budget concerns, most newspapers, and the Vindy is very much in this category, are becoming more "clip" papers without a lot of original reporting. What original reporting and investigative reporting is done well, but when you go to the business section and find 1-2 local stories at best mon-sat, it's like what's the point? We really don't care how the rest of the business world is doing, we hear that all the time on the tv news, but I would like to know whats what exactly on the local business front.

Overall Vindy does well within it's confines, but I think for a local paper to really succeed and thrive in todays tough climate, become a LOCAL paper, and really concentrate on that news. It would be a surprising change that just may surprise your revenue resources as well. Just a thought

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3tnmartin(507 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

Oh, please!
I think I put my time in just enduring old Esther Hamilton columns and other Vindicator ''contributions'' to the cultural refinements of the area. If that wasn't punishment, I don't know what was. Even the Salem News and the Warren Tribune didn't have anyone that bad.
And the point is not to have a ''Republican bias'', or any other one. It is to be complete, and accurate, and to be objective. And that means both in how things are presented and also what things are presented, what things are omitted, and the attention paid to them. Some of the major papers, and some truly ghastly chains (McClatchy and the Gannett line fit, so do others) have a line that is right out of the worst elements of the Democrat Party, and there's no hiding it.
Look, you have to engage in grotesque willful blindness not to know that the Vindy has for decades ignored chronic corruption and racketeering, ignored the obvious ties between the Party, the Mob(s), the Unions, and certain ''connected'' local businessmen. Most of us know of them, but the Vindy has long overlooked what the most casual observer can see.
Sorry if that offends someone's tender sensibilities.

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4msweetwood(179 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago


While Todd and I missed out on the era you describe, in my short tenure here, I have learned that there is a high tolerance - pride even - for Valley political hijinks of the past. Some people have accused this newspaper of hounding Jim Traficant from office, yet many proudly boast that they would vote for him again if he ran for office today. I just don't see your disenchantment over the past playing a huge role in decisions made by today's readership. But your insight is appreciated. And if you have a list to share of those currently on the take, feel free to send it my way...

Mark Sweetwood
Managing Editor

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5leftofstr8(33 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

Well said Mr. Sweetwood, I was just at a lunch meeting today where the virtues of Mr. Traficant were being sung. I am still bleeding a bit from biting my tongue so hard. I agree that there should be no bias in feature reporting, but an editorial is just that, a persons opinion on a subject.

Again, I agree with the fact that the local papers do contribute to jobs in the community as well, but so do the local cable companies doing installations, etc. I will continue reading my Vindicator daily, but I say to you again, let's get it local folks.

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6scrooge(563 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

All newspapers and newscasts should be prefaced by saying;
"The views and opinions expressed are those of the reporter and not necessarily the actions or facts as they took place"
Newsmedia in general have long since had a left-leaning bias. Not until radio and internet became more prominant did people start getting an alternative viewpoint. National News as far back as the Walter Cronkite days and beyond was always more about what we WANT you to think rather than here's the FACTS - you garner your own opinion.
I would tend to believe the worst culprit in print media is the AP who have no one to counter or fact check articles, yet they maintain a monopoly on all national and worldwide news.

that being said----- Oprah doesn't own any newspapers so she doesn't care about the outcome of them.

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7tnmartin(507 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

Let's not get sidetracked here. Mr. Franko's original comment had to do with the newspaper business in general. There are both general and specific problems. The specific ones, meaning those of the locale, are one thing. We know about some of those. I don't regard tolerance for contract killers and extortionists as ''hijinks''. Your mileage may vary.
(By the way, such tolerance has more than a bit to do with the reluctance of industry to locate here. Would YOU invest millions here?)
With regards to the newspapers in general, it is beyond dispute that many - Washington Post, NY Times, Boston Globe, LA Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, SF Chronicle, St. Petersburg Times, the McClatchy chain, to name a few -- need I go on? are little more than outlets for the worst, most anti-American elements of the far-left fringe of the Democrat Party. There's no hiding it and they really don't try. Add in the noxious leavening of the Associated Presstitutes, and you have a smelly mixture. It is insane to expect citizens to continue to pay for that. Particularly now that there are other news sources that circumvent the local paper and reveal the propaganda for what it is. People are voting with their wallets.
Save the papers? Fine. IMPROVE THE PRODUCT!

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8curious(2 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

Who is more responsible for exposing corruption, a reporter or a member of law enforcement? Who has the ability to seek a subpoena or a search warrant, a reporter or a member of law enforcement? Which is less likely to get sued if he makes a mistake? So, tnm, why lay the onus on the newspaper? Who did you expose during your law enforcement career? You were even invited above by Mr. Sweetwood to name some names that you claim "most of us know." Did you? It seems that all you do is whine about how bad everyone else is at performing up to your high expectations. You've been invited to step up to the plate: swing away.

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9LindaGristCunningham(1 comment)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

Said it well, Mr. Franko.

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10Stan(9923 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

"You let financial guru Suze Orman come on your show and tell your audience to cancel their newspaper subscriptions to save money."

We still get The Vindy at our house! :)

Suze who? I like to watch Mad Money! Jim Cramer ROCKS!

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