“The Walruss” is Gone

14 02 2007

I guess, in the back of our minds, it was really a question of “when will this happen”. Although we can’t pinpoint an exact date (a notice of hiatus was given in late December, editor Lenny Crist confirmed it on his blog), The Walruss, the Mahoning Valley’s attempt at an alternative newspaper in the style of New York’s Village Voice or Cleveland’s Free Times, has ceased to exist.  And when their web site hadn’t been updated since mid-December, no one is really all that surprised.

I was glad to discover The Walruss, glad there was a new media outlet that wasn’t mainstream and full of wire reports like The Vindicator, yet not covering trivial, non-newsworthy stories like comunity papers (can we shout The Review from the top of our lungs?). A lot of “alternative weeklies” as they’re called (a bi-weekly in this paper’s case) cover their areas’ arts scene, news that may fly under the radar and political/community commentary, and while these things may occur on a smaller scale in Youngstown, they nonetheless happen. And The Walruss reported on it.

Despite this, I also couldn’t help but be skeptical in the back of my mind as to how long this enterprise would last. Launching a print publication today is among the quaintest of ideas, and one could argue it’d be far more economical, as well as longer-lasting, to use the money spent making print copies towards buying web space and promoting it as an internet zine.

If you’re still not convinced print is a hugely outdated medium, consider this: last week, New York Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger said he isn’t sure if the Times will still be printing in five years, and “he doesn’t care either.” So when one of the world’s most recongizable and respected newspapers suggests they may go online-only in the future, that’s big news.

The paper’s editor, Lenny Crist, said he “has bills to pay” and so has begun looking for work in the teleservices industry to finish paying for his degree at YSU, and isn’t too affected by the death of the paper.

I don’t blame him for this, but I also can’t help but wonder how different it’d be had it been launched strictly as an internet production. The Youngstown bloggers, myself included, want to focus on this valley and have opinions about the events that happen here, but we don’t have the money or the means to mass-distribute it, so here we are. I don’t know how much capital publisher Joseph Rafidi or Crist for that matter had, but I have a feeling they were limited in resources at least to an extent. So like I said, an internet enterprise is more economical, given buying memory space is a lot less expensive than a printing press, and that along with a handful of computers would cover most of their needs.

There’s also the issue of advertising revenue, which may have been problematic for The Walruss, I don’t know for sure. And while an internet move would turn away local clients, it opens a much larger world of dot-com enterprises that would surely continue its publication for years to come.

But that’s what could’ve been.

So maybe one day The Walruss will be ressurected, and maybe they will take the internet-only route. Outlets like this blog who have no money use it, and with the Times hinting towards moving their operations there, it really is what Leonardo DiCaprio kept repeating as Howard Hughes at the end of The Aviator: “The way of the future”

But as of right now, I won’t hold my breath. Mr. Crist has to do what he has to do first, in my opinion.


Snow ((Hey Oh))

13 02 2007

I must say, the snowfall we’ve seen since last night is some of the worst I’ve seen in a while. And just when we thought global warming had taken over….

And while we’re on the subject, is this a sorry excuse for a slow news day, or what? I have a contingent of friends who agree the mainstream media here will, as they put it, “rot your mind”, and this is the stuff that backs their arguements up. I mean I think The Vindicator, despite its flaws, does ok for a market our size, but when we see a snowfall like this you couldn’t report on what road departments have had to do or what to expect with traffic conditions the next couple days? Anyone?

Continuing this 6 degrees of separation sort of thing, vindy.com did do something right in giving a blog to Cleveland internet show Moohead Radio (link at right =>). It’s all the more important this is highlighted, as today Marc (aka Moohead) found indoor football “owner” Jim Terry, interviewed on this site when we first started (a lifetime ago, in the summer), didn’t have his players insured for their first two games played. That is just wrong. If you don’t follow this three ring circus of a story (and you’re better for it if you haven’t) let’s just say it has reached unbelievable, pathetic proportions, and now that’s left is for it to die a slow death. So support your truly “professional” sports teams here: the Scrappers, Steelhounds, Thunder and YSU.

 Just checking in, everybody. Good luck driving tomorrow, wherever you’re going.

Global continues to come up short.. It’s time to look elsewhere!

6 02 2007


For the “ump”teenth time in a row it seems, since the Chevrolet Centre opened back in October 2005, the predictions for a $356,000 profit for the months October-December came up $212,000 SHORT! During this same period in 2005, the Chevy Centre made a $545,000 profit!

I find it appalling that Global would continue to be this far off on financial predictions. Either their accountants are coming right out college, or they have no idea how to run an operation. I personally think its both!

The Convocation Center from the beginning has been plagued by problems with operations; managers Jeff Kossow and Matt Hufnagel each resigned, and the financial predictions have been million dollars off.

It’s time for Mayor Jay Williams and Co. to clean up shop over there and start from the beginning. Global Entertainment has done a attrocious job running THE CITIES ARENA! I beleive the city should contact Comcast’s Global Spectrum Arena Management Co. They have a proven record of being successful in the arenas they are in, and also run a similar arena once run by Global: The Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, CO.

Another arena once managed by Global; the Dodge Arena; has since fired the company after problems have come through the vines down there. It’s only a matter of time before we do it too! Spectrum is high quality, run some of the largest arenas in the USA, and run the beautiful Value City Arena in Columbus!

Quick update: YSU stays local

1 02 2007

The Vindicator broke this afternoon YSU is moving forward with the construction of the new Williamson College of Business, with the design by Youngstown firm Strollo Architects being selected. They won out over Perkins & Will, a Dallas firm.

Nothing else there really. Just glad to see we’re utilizing the assets we have right here.

’08 Primary Hoopla and Youngstown

1 02 2007

With the inevitable candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for president coupled with the commencement of news coverage which will go on right through next November, I can’t help but wonder when these people will pass through the valley and what they’ll spew to us.

It’s always the same thing, you know. Aside from the George W. Bush appearance in spring 2004 which was very minutely organized and focused on what I believe was health care, pretty much any national candidate passing through Youngstown will tell you about our industrial past, and how we need to return to these supposed “good-old days” and other reforms that’ll supposedly benefit the middle class.

It continues with each election cycle, and with all things in politics it’s merely hot air. Sometime next year, people will come around here yet again and speak of the days when steel mills lined the Mahoning River. Like they were around for it.

They won’t speak of the Youngstown Business Incubator, the Chevrolet Centre or the multimillion dollar grants to YSU, mostly because they don’t know about these occurances.

Part of the reason why candidates do this is because they’re pandering to the faction of people still living here who want a return of the mills. I am not one of these people. I believe we’re going to have to face the unfortuante reality that the blue collar job base is in sharp decline, and will likely never recover, continuing a slide into obscurity.

I think a lot of people know this, yet no one is willing to admit this painful truth. Politicians, and people who exhibit too much ignorance, still want to believe we can go back to this “old America” of the early 20th century. I am adamant in my conviction that Youngstown has a future in other industries, such as technology. The construction of the YBI extension is a start.

But our politicians of a national scale will press on, insisting one day the dormant mills we see can re-open. It is simply what we as a people do NOT need to hear. This is a new century, and like the last time a new century dawned (about 100 years ago by the way) we’re facing new challenges and we have to adapt to them.