Plain Dealer plans special print section to explain shift to digital

Crain’s Cleveland Business | Associated Press | CJR | CJR | Cleveland Magazine | Cleveland Leader | Creators Syndicate | Philly.com

The Plain Dealer, which laid off about 50 employees Wednesday, “plans a six-page special section in Sunday’s paper to further explain the changes ahead,” Jay Miller reports.

The laid-off employees “are eligible to apply for jobs at the Northeast Ohio Media Group, a new company that will produce digital content for Cleveland.com,” Miller reports.

The paper’s guild expects “about 110 guild-covered employees to remain in the newsroom following the layoffs,” the Associated Press reports.

But in CJR, Dean Starkman writes that Publisher Terry Eggers “sent an answer that was non-responsive” when asked how many positions would remain.

While the newspaper didn’t release any names of those laid off, the AP reports that Guild chairman Harlan Spector volunteered to go. Science writer John Mangels wrote on Facebook yesterday that he’d volunteered to leave, too, saying “The PD’s long, admirable commitment to in-depth science coverage was ending, so I volunteered to be among those laid off today.” Business Editor Randy Roguski was laid off, Chris Roush reported Wednesday. Anna Clark says “two K-12 education reporters, a night editor…three high school sports reporters, and at least one page designer” are among those leaving, as are Scott Shaw, Stan Donaldson and Dave Davis.

The Plain Dealer’s Washington and Columbus bureaus appear to be intact, however,” Clark writes.

Medical reporter Ellen Jan Kleinerman was laid off too, Erick Trickey reports, as were Regina Brett and Margaret Bernstein. About half the layoffs were voluntary, Trickey says.

There were also layoffs at Sun News, which like The Plain Dealer is owned by Advance. About 20 people at those papers lost their jobs, Julie Kent reports.

Trickey attended the “Irish wake” for the paper’s employees Wednesday night at Cleveland’s Market Garden Brewery, which was taking donations over the phone to pay for drinks. “I never thought I’d leave the business,” Spector told him. “But the way things are going here, I didn’t think I’d get to practice journalism the way I and many others have practiced it.”

The Plain Dealer will unveil a digital-first investigative series Monday, Trickey writes, and will soon cover the sentencing of Ariel Castro, a big story that will come as “a morale boost for the slimmed-down staff – or, at least, a way to work through survivor’s guilt.”

This is a bleary-eyed day,” Former Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz writes. “We journalists in Cleveland knew it was coming, but isn’t it something how you can brace for a blow and buckle anyway?” The paper had had 400 people in the newsroom when she started there.

Schultz’s column toasts reporters (“It’s not normal to wake up every morning hoping breaking news will send your entire nervous system into overdrive. Fortunately, normal is so overrated”), photographers (“We all carry smartphones with cameras these days, but there is no substitute for the tender vision of someone who spends his or her entire life helping the rest of us see”) and copy editors (“who risk the daily ire of reporters because their loyalty is to the reader”), among others.

Will Bunch says the story of the women Castro kidnapped “was kept alive for years by reporters and columnists from the Plain Dealer writing repeatedly about the cases.” When one of the women escaped, “she told her rescuers, ‘Help me, I’m Amanda Berry,’ ” he writes. “In a city with an active and engaged news media, she knew those words would mean something. In the future, in Cleveland, I’m not so sure.”

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  • Dr. Ron Thomas, Jr.

    So they will explain, in the medium that they are abandoning, why they are abandoning it to the remaining readers who want them to keep it?