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Six months down and eager for more

In two weeks, we will hit the six-month anniversary of taking over publication of The Vindicator — and what a wonderful, yet crazy, six months it has been!

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to be part of a panel discussion at the Ohio News Media Association’s annual conference in Columbus where we were asked to talk about the endeavor of taking over The Vindicator.

We were invited to tell our story as part of a two-day gathering of statewide journalists and industry leaders. Our panel was made up of our newspaper’s General Manager Ted Snyder and our corporate Regional Circulation Director Len Blose, along with myself. The discussion was well attended by newspaper industry representatives from all over Ohio. They had great interest in what we are doing here because the undertaking is so unique in our industry today.

I’m speaking, of course, about the Tribune Chronicle’s purchase of The Vindicator’s name, website and subscription list after the previous longtime owners announced last summer they would cease operations Aug. 31.

The process of doubling the size of our publication’s footprint overnight by absorbing publication of a neighboring (and even larger) newspaper sounded daunting — and it was. But, to be certain, it was certainly exciting, too!

As the purchase came to fruition, I recall Len Blose telling me that there may not be another newspaper in the country that had experienced a similar scenario.

What made the transition even more extraordinary was the fact that from the time the Tribune Chronicle and old Vindicator negotiated and finalized the purchase deal, only about 11 days were left before Aug. 31, when publication would cease and when we would put out our first new Vindicator edition Sept. 1.

Certainly, we faced challenges — some that we did foresee and some that we could not have — including things like making technology changes to our business telephone system to allow us to handle the drastically increased call volume, or the overwhelming amount of data entry of thousands of new subscriber account numbers, addresses and billing information into our computer systems. That’s not to mention the expected increased coverage area and additional reporting, writing, editing and laying out of a second newspaper every day, followed by printing it and then getting tens of thousands of those additional newspapers delivered to our new readers.

Frankly, we still are working through these challenges and learning better ways of doing things every single day. Of course, we still have hurdles, but we are trying hard and are not about to give up until we get it right.

I’ve been hearing from you, our new readers, every day via email, phone calls and even hand-written letters telling me what you like, what you don’t like and what you suggest could make the newspaper better. I enjoy hearing from readers, even if it’s a complaint, because it gives us an opportunity to learn and improve.

We’ve put great thought into ways to keep some of the features similar and familiar to longtime readers. Of course, we’ve also had to make some changes to match our operations. While we cannot accommodate every request, I promise we will listen and consider what you ask.

That’s why we are in the process of visiting many communities in our new coverage areas for “Meet The Vindicator” events where readers may come, have a cup of coffee and chat with us. The events are free, and we really want to hear from you.

This week we will be at Boardman Library, 7680 Glenwood Ave., at 6:30 p.m. Monday; and Campbell Roosevelt Park Community Center, Sycamore Drive at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. More are scheduled for coming weeks. Watch the paper for information.

I hope you will join us. We are still excited to hear from you, to learn new things and to publish your Vindicator.

blinert@tribtoday.com

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