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Could The Plain Dealer stop being a daily paper?

6:23 PM, Aug 30, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Will the Plain Dealer continue to publish a paper seven days a week?

It's a question being asked inside and outside Greater Cleveland's most significant provider of news and information.

Sister papers with the Plain Dealer's shared owner, Advance Publications, are changing to a three-day a week format with emphasis on contiuous website content.

Papers in New Orleans, Harrisburg and Syracuse are among those slated to make the change. So are several other smaller Advance papers.

The Newspaper Guild at the Plain Dealer is bracing for that possibilty and intends to soon launch a campaign to encourage the community to support continuation of a daily paper.

Guild spokesman Harlan Spector says, "People are anxious... We have not heard anything. The company has not told us if or when something is going to happen. The conventional  wisdom in the newsroom is it'a a matter of when not if."

Publisher Terry Eggar and Editor Debra Ann Simmons did not return calls for this story.

The Plain Dealer, like most newspapers and mainstream TV stations are  battling a changing media universe.

Circulation and advertising is down. The paper's size is shrinking. And more readers are switching from the hard copy to digital sources of news.

Some newspaper chains are trying to charge for web  content. So far, Advance has not pursued that effort.

Cleveland.com offers the same coverage as the printed Plain Dealer for free.

The paper's editorial staff has roughly been cut in half over the last decade with buyouts and layoffs.

A contractual no-layoff guarantee with the Guild remains in place until January 2013.

In past statements, the paper's official spokespersons have pledged the Plain Dealer will continue to evolve to serve  readers, advertisers and the community.

Spector says the campaign will suggest reaching out to the paper's New Jersey headquarters and owners to preserve a daily paper.

"We're not just a business. Newspapers have a civic responsibility. I think the impact would be huge.... It makes it a lot harder to be a watchdog and a lot harder to serve the community...It's hard to understand the significance until after it happens. After it happens, it's too late," he said.

 

WKYC-TV

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