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Introducing Mahoning Matters and our local news team in Youngstown

Welcome to Mahoning Matters! We are your new go-to source for news and information for the Mahoning Valley.

Our name reflects both what we'll cover and what we believe: The Mahoning Valley matters. Youngstown matters. Local news matters.

mm2The Mahoning Matters logo borrows from the design of the Mill Creek Suspension Bridge (Flickr/jwpearce)

In talking with the community, one of the messages that stood out to us was that we couldn’t just focus on Youngstown. Issues of public services access, health care, government transparency and stories of progress were not only key in the city, but across Mahoning County. This is why we decided to take a wider view.

The Mahoning Matters newsroom brings together some of the most well-informed and community-minded journalists in the region, who are already familiar to many in the Mahoning Valley.


Leading this effort is Editor Mark Sweetwood, whose deep knowledge of local news and the Mahoning Valley will be invaluable in getting Mahoning Matters up and running.

Mark has spent 37 years working in the local news business. For more than a decade, he served as managing editor of The Vindicator. During that time, the Vindy staff was honored with many accolades including two first place general excellence awards as well as the coveted First Amendment Award from the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors. In addition to working with us, Mark teaches journalism at Youngstown State University.

On Mark’s team are two ace reporters who also hail from the The Vindicator.

Justin Dennis has covered crime, courts, government and public education first at the Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, Pa. and later at the Star Beacon in Ashtabula. At The Vindicator, he reported on the Mahoning County government and courts, as well as the communities of Austintown and Canfield. Justin grew up in Poland and Salem, graduating from Salem High School. He studied journalism and communications at Cleveland State University and University of Pittsburgh.

Jess Hardin grew up in Pittsburgh and started reporting at The Vindicator, where she covered the communities of Poland and Boardman. While there, Jess won a grant with the Center for Community Solutions in Cleveland to research ambulance service in the Youngstown area, which she wrote about just last week. Prior to joining The Vindicator, Jess worked at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, a federal agency that provides a safe disclosure channel for federal whistleblowers. Jess graduated from Georgetown University, where she studied government and Russian.

These three team members will be driving the coverage and outreach of Mahoning Matters as it gets off the ground.

Stay tuned for our late September launch. We look forward to connecting with you and delivering the news that matters most to our community.

 Mahoning Matters is part of The Compass Experiment, a local news laboratory founded by McClatchy and Google’s Local Experiments Project.


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