Breaking News
More () »

Let's Be Clear: An open conversation with Plain Dealer Editor George Rodrigue

Hear about The Plain Dealer's future, from dwindling staff to its redesign.

BROOKLYN, Ohio — You want your local newsmakers to be open and honest with you, right? Let's be clear, then.

"Let's Be Clear" is all about transparency. WKYC has a clear, mobile newsroom that we're taking across the state over the next few weeks to talk to those making headlines in Ohio. Whether you agree with the guest, disagree, or are a fan of them, we know you have questions.

Click here to watch past episodes of "Let's Be Clear."

Now, we're back with Season 2, and on Thursday we sat down with George Rodrigue, editor to The Plain Dealer. You can watch the full interview again below:

Rodrigue became editor in 2015, and was named President & Editor of Plain Dealer Publishing Co. in 2017. 

The Plain Dealer has been plagued with staffing cuts, most recently 12 reporters and editors at the end of March. Those layoffs were in addition to 29 jobs cut in December, when The Plain Dealer announced a move to a "centralized production system", set to start in early May.

Rodrigue discussed the current state of the paper following its slashed staffing numbers and explained how the publication maintains its relevancy in the changing media landscape. While Cleveland.com focuses on digital coverage, Rodrigue says The Plain Dealer continues to focus on its loyal subscribers.

"I want readers to buy subscriptions to The Plain Dealer, and I want them to work with us to help figure out what stories we should be telling, and if they've got story tips or questions, I want them to send them in," he said. "I want to work well with our readers because in my world, readers are subscribers. They're literally putting kids through college and we need to have as close of a relationship with them as we can."

Rodrigue admitted that trimming staff won't necessarily lead to more revenue for the paper, but explained that it can help a struggling company. 

"I think they [staff cuts] help you cope with declining revenue," he said. "The solution to everything is increasing revenue and that's a tough thing to ask for in our industry today."

With less reporters to cover Northeast Ohio's many communities and cultures, Rodrigue said that the paper has altered the process in how its staff covers stories. 

"We're trying to come up with stories that just matter more from the start, because we don't have time to go to every city council or school board meeting anymore," he explained.

As a result of the paper's centralized production system, its layout will undergo a visual redesign, set to change in coming weeks. Rodrigue is fully aware the new look may seem jarring and unfamiliar, but urges readers to give it a chance.

"I think you'll find it easier to find things, easier to read stories," he said. "There's some real practical advantages to the redesign."

Before You Leave, Check This Out