Tom Batiuk, author of the syndicated comic “Crankshaft” regularly published in the Tribune Chronicle, often veers away from humor in his comics to draw attention to important, even sometimes tragic, subjects.
Over the years, the Akron native has explored issues such as adult literacy or Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. He often mentions historical events about World War II, including the Battle of Normandy. In his comic strip, Batiuk, a 1969 Kent State University graduate, even made mention of the fatal May 4, 1970 shooting of four Kent State students by National Guard troops from the Kent State University. ‘Ohio.
These issues make some of his tapes poignant and meaningful.
Likewise, I’d like to believe that the direction Batiuk took in the Crankshaft comics last week was meant to draw attention to an important issue for our newspaper readers, but I’m afraid that’s not the case. And even if so, the implications of the comic may have been misinterpreted by our readers who might somehow believe that he was trying to get a message across. future of this newspaper. Let’s be clear: on this issue, Crankshaft is not speaking of or for the Tribune Chronicle.
If you’re not a regular reader of Crankshaft comics, let me update you. Batiuk kicked off his characters last Monday when discussing a newspaper that had stopped door-to-door delivery a few days a week. The family of the grumpy main character, Ed, told him that the newspaper had stopped home delivery on Mondays and Tuesdays. “It’s the newspaper’s way of trying to wean us off,” said her daughter, Pam.
In subsequent comics, Ed’s son-in-law Jeff states that eliminating certain delivery days is part of the newspaper’s plan to cut costs. “They fired most of their journalists. So now they are starting to fire their readers,” said Jeff.
In an apparent attempt at humor, Pam says the cuts even affect the comics. “Two characters just got fired from ‘Mary Worth’.”
But this case is no joke.
The future of the newspaper industry has generated much debate in recent years. Indeed, some newspapers have experienced financial difficulties. Many newspapers across the country have reduced daily home delivery in order to remain viable.
There’s no doubt that the people of Mahoning Valley are very familiar with these types of struggles after witnessing firsthand the demise of The Vindicator under its former owner. This newspaper had announced that it was closing its doors in the summer of 2019 after failing to make ends meet for many years.
Of course, the Tribune Chronicle was able to resume publication of The Vindicator, making that newspaper strong and viable and helping to further strengthen the Tribune Chronicle.
Absolutely, daily newspaper closures have a serious and damaging effect on communities. Credible information, such as that provided by the Tribune Chronicle and all reputable newspapers, is essential to democracy.
It can hardly be argued that newspapers, especially local newspapers, are the backbone of regional journalism. Through our award-winning community journalism, the Tribune Chronicle covers the lives of our residents, local politics, environmental and health issues, high school athletes, and entertains in a way no other medium comes close. Our stories hold local politicians accountable to their constituents – our readers.
Indeed, studies have shown direct correlations between newspaper closures and increased government costs to taxpayers caused when the watchdog function of the Fourth Estate breaks down.
But let me be clear. The implications of last week’s Crankshaft comics do not apply to the Tribune Chronicle. We have not reduced our reporting staff. On the contrary, we have actually added a significant number of reporters and newsroom staff over the past few years.
We still print and deliver our newspapers daily, and hope to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. We are in good financial shape and we have no intention, as the Crankshaft characters say, of implementing cutbacks.
We strongly believe in our news product and will continue to do our job to bring you the news every day, as we have done for hundreds of years.