The Plain Dealer will end daily home delivery

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The Cleveland Plain Dealer will deliver papers only three times per week, but it will print every day, the paper announced Thursday. The change will come this summer.

The company will also reorganize as the Northeast Ohio Media Group, which will handle “advertising sales and marketing for The Plain Dealer, and Sun newspapers,” the announcement says. “And, Northeast Ohio Media Group will provide content for all print and digital products.”

Plain Dealer science writer John Mangels described the changes as “bittersweet” in a phone call with Poynter. “It’s better than what we had expected,” he said. In a newsroom meeting announcing the changes, Mangels said, management said planned layoffs would be delayed until late summer.

Plain Dealer staffers launched a campaign this past November they hoped woud ward off a move to three-day-a-week printing, which the paper’s owner, Advance, has instituted at its papers in Alabama, New Orleans and Harrisburg, Pa.

“I think we and the thousands of people who supported the campaign can claim some credit,” Mangels said. “I’m glad Advance listened to the campaign’s message.”

We hear that PD call-center personnel have been told to expect long hours and a high volume of subscriber calls soon,” a post on Save the Plain Dealer’s Facebook page Wednesday night said.

Also in November, Plain Dealer Editor Debra Adams Simmons and Publisher Terry Egger published a front-page letter to readers saying they foresaw a “significant reset of our business,” and that “We do not have a specific plan, timeline or structure for Cleveland. But we will — very soon.”

The Plain Dealer told the Guild there in December it intended to lay off 58 people. A subsequent deal between the Guild and the paper limited future layoffs and raised wages for those who remained. The Plain Dealer has Advance’s only unionized newsroom.

The company’s plans for print frequency were not subject to negotiation, Guild chair Harlan Spector told Poynter in December.

Last August Chairman Steven Newhouse told me “We’re looking at every market and trying to figure out what the right model is. We have local teams doing it because the conditions are different in different markets, but our goal everywhere is to come up with a formula where we can see a long-term future.”

Thursday afternoon the Save The Plain Dealer campaign issued a statement saying the reduced delivery “will prevent some, particularly the elderly, from having access to the paper.”

We also are saddened that the company intends to go forward with plans to let go more than one-third of The Plain Dealer’s newsroom staff. That will happen sometime later this summer, we learned today, rather than on May 1, which originally was the target date. Losing dozens of experienced, talented journalists inevitably will reduce the news coverage that Greater Clevelanders rely on.

We continue to believe that there are less-disruptive methods the paper’s owner and management could have undertaken as they shift to the digital delivery of news. We intend to keep the Save The Plain Dealer campaign active, and to serve as an ongoing watchdog for quality journalism in Northeast Ohio. To all of you who have written, emailed, called and attended meetings to show your support, we are profoundly grateful, and we’ll keep working on your behalf.

Correction: This post originally said the Syracuse Post-Standard had reduced print frequency to three days per week. The Post-Standard is still printed seven days per week and is home-delivered on three days.

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  • JTFloore

    yes, exactly. it seems to me that newspapers (at least some) not only cut their own throats by giving away on the internet what they were still trying to sell (how many geniuses followed that path?), but now by cutting back on delivery days, they are draining what blood remains. I live in an area where the paper is delivered 3 days a week. my subscription ran out some weeks ago. not only do I not miss it much (I had been a loyal subscriber), but they made no effort to keep me as a customer. nice going, Advance, maybe your three-day print “newspapers” will be mercifully dead within another year or two. can I read it online? well, yes, if I click and click and click and wait for the pages to open, and then close them and click some more.

    meanwhile, the paper is not only no longer collecting my subscription money, it is not making a cent from me online either. whoever came up with this business model needs to be fired (they doubtless have been promoted and given a raise), but it may well be too late to matter.

  • pjbnyc

    According to Wikipedia, (with footnotes reference to Scarborough Research):

    “As of May 2006, The Plain Dealer had more than 785,000 readers on weekdays and 1 million readers on Sunday.[4] The Plain Dealer’s media market, Greater Cleveland,
    is ranked No. 1 in the country for Sunday newspaper readership
    percentage (75.4% of total adults) and No. 2 in daily newspaper
    readership percentage (62.6% of total adults), second only to The New York Times in the weekday editions.[5]”

    Shocking how far the PD fell.

    Getting the paper three days a week, the remaining readers will lose the habit; new home subscribers won’t even consider newspaper delivery as an option. Newspapers squandered at least 40 years they should have spent re-inventing themselves. It’s a shame. I love newspapers, but they never made it easy to do.

  • JTFloore

    yes, of course, govt corruption will increase by leaps and bounds, as will corruption and anti-consumerism at every other level of American life. big business and banks and every other business (regardless of size) will be able to do whatever they want with impunity. you want to see capitalist greed run amok? just keep watching — if you can stand to. I don’t even want to think about the cops. in other words the first amendment won’t have much meaning if the press continues to dwindle down — nothing seems to be on the horizon to stop that — and the people of the united states, not to mention the country its own self, will be f*d. have a nice day.

  • Judie Amsel

    1. Without the free delivery of the Sun Newspapers, how strong are they?
    2. Would subscribers have to pay to get paper editions of the PD if they don’t want or can’t get them online?
    3. Will the PD be giving subscribers refunds?
    4. How good can the news coverage be with such a major reduction in staff? I fear that corruption in government will increase without the watchdog of the press.