Blog: Plain talk about The Plain Dealer

11:17 PM, Dec 6, 2012   |    comments
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Being a former newspaper reporter, it's hard to imagine Cleveland without a daily, hard-copy newspaper.

First, here's full disclosure: I never worked for the Plain Dealer but for the Sun Newspapers, a weekly newspaper in Northeast Ohio that, in its heyday just over a decade ago, boasted 22 editions and was the largest weekly newspaper in the U.S.

It, too, was owned by Advance Publications, the company that owns The Plain Dealer.

In 2009, having slipped to #2 or #3 in the U.S., Advance cut the number of Sun editions from 22 that served 72 communities to 11, closed all four of its satellite offices in the suburbs, and brought all operations and reduced staff to its main office in Valley View.

There were also buyouts for longtime employees. Of my own accord, I left in December, 2007 to come to WKYC as its website reporter. I left Sun because I wanted to work somewhere that got the news out faster than a weekly paper does...and the Internet is immediate.

That being said, there is something to be said for holding a hard-copy of a newspaper in your hands. For those who want that, a daily newspaper is just that -- daily. For those who seek their news online, that is always their option.

I subscribe to The Plain Dealer daily and have been reading newspapers since I was in grade school. I remember when Cleveland lost the Cleveland Press in June, 1982. That's when Cleveland became a one-newspaper town.

The loss of the afternoon paper took a second voice out of the market. That demise also occured during a time of financial recession, a factor that is present today with the current Advance plan to cut one-third of the 168 members of the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild, bringing the workforce down to 110.

According to guild members, those members would either be laid off or offered jobs with, an online operation owned by Advance.

Advance owns lots of other newspapers elsewhere and has cut some publishing hard copies back to three days a week, with online coverage still at seven days a week.

That's what the Plain Dealer employees fear will happen here.

That's why they started the "Save the Plain Dealer" campaign in November. Thursday night, they had an open house in Ohio City at a local establishment.

But aside from employees there losing their jobs, there is also collateral damage. Paper delivery carriers would be affected, advertisers would be impacted and may spend less money.

Not to mention people like myself that start the day every day by reading the hard copy of The Plain Dealer.

And recent history of how The Plain Dealer reporters and photographers covered the Cuyahoga County corruption probe should prove how valuable the "watchdog" role of the media is.

I spent two and a half months in the media room in federal court in Akron during the corruption trial of former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora with reporters and photographers from the Plain Dealer. I know how hard they all worked.

But you need enough people to do that kind of a thorough job. Every business has seen its share of cutbacks as the economy has slowed to a crawl and most businesses across the board have been "doing more with less."

The question remains: do you, personally, care enough about what news you get and how you get it to get behind the newspaper and voice your objection to reducing the publication?

Or do you agree that going to publication three days a week is enough to satisfy those who want a hard copy because you, personally, get your news online all the time?

That is for you to decide but you should take a side...before it's too late.


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