Cleveland Plain Dealer

George Rodrigue will be editor of The Plain Dealer

George Rodrigue, formerly the managing editor of The Dallas Morning News, has been named editor of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, the paper announced Monday.

Before coming to The Plain Dealer, Rodrigue was assistant news director for WFAA, an ABC affiliate in Dallas. Before that, he spent a decade at The Dallas Morning News as managing editor and was Washington bureau vice president for Belo Corp.

Rodrigue won the 1986 national reporting Pulitzer Prize for an investigation into subsidized housing in East Texas.

Here’s the release:

George Rodrigue, the long-time VP and Managing Editor of The Dallas Morning News and Pulitzer Prize winner, will be the next editor of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. Rodrigue, who has been an accomplished journalist and editor for more than 35 years, is currently a news executive at WFAA-TV in Dallas.

“The Plain Dealer has an inspiring heritage, a strong staff, and a compelling vision for the future. I’m thrilled to join the team in Cleveland,” said Rodrigue.

Before serving as VP and Managing Editor of The Dallas Morning News from 2004 until 2014, Rodrigue was Vice President of the Washington Bureau for Belo Corp.’s newspapers and TV stations and Executive Editor of Belo’s Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. He started as a reporter for The Dallas Morning News in 1983 before becoming Day City Editor, European Bureau Chief (stationed in Berlin and Moscow) and then Washington Correspondent. He won two Pulitzer Prizes while at The Dallas Morning News, and the newsroom won a third under his leadership as well as having two finalists.

Rodrigue, who covered the Persian Gulf War, the breakup of the Soviet Union and the economic and social rebuilding of Eastern Europe in the 1990s, is a graduate of the University of Virginia and a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, where he focused on economics and law. He’s married to Wendy Meyer, a landscape architect and fellow UVA graduate. They have two children.

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Home: Here’s how the Plain Dealer will say hello to LeBron James

Plain Dealer

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has revealed their front page for Saturday, Joey Morona reported.

“The cover of tomorrow’s Plain Dealer is wonderful,” said Emmet Smith, now a senior designer at The Washington Post. Smith designed the front page of the Plain Dealer four years ago when James announced his departure. “It’s one that a lot of Clevelanders will be holding onto for a long, long time. Love the Robert Carter illustration. It hits all the right notes.”

Here’s that front page:

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“My head’s definitely with my friends at The Plain Dealer today, but The Post is an exceedingly special place to work. We get more than our fair share of days like this around here, too,” Smith said. “Today just happens to be Cleveland’s.”

MORE: Sports Illustrated’s editors didn’t know about James’ decision until ‘this morning’

I asked Smith why that page continues to be so popular.

“The internet. LeBron. Cleveland. Who really knows what makes something iconic? I like to think it’s that we as a newsroom understood our readers and the moment. If you can get those things right, the rest comes pretty easily.”

Come back yourselves tomorrow morning, and Sam Kirkland will have a collection ready with how other papers responded on their fronts. Back in 2010, Charles Apple wrote “How the Plain Dealer Came Up with LeBron James Front Page” for Poynter. Apple spoke with staff at the Plain Dealer about the response to the front page and if they’d seen anything like it before.

Assistant Managing Editor David Kordalski: No. Certainly not since Twitter, Facebook and other social media made it so instant and easy to pass around.

But then again, this story was everywhere and with ESPN and NBC Nightly News popping it up on their broadcasts, it got exposure that no other Plain Dealer pages have ever had.

Apple also asked about planning for the page.

Smith (then deputy design director for news) I came up with it about 4 p.m. the day of. So, all of about eight hours ahead of time. Michael Tribble and I had been kicking around what we should do for a while, but didn’t have anything that was even remotely close to right until then.

I was of the thinking that Cleveland would really need to see a straight front with “HE’S GONE” in 300-point knockout with a picture, but Michael kept pushing me to do something different, less “boring.” When I brought him that cover, it was half as a joke, not thinking we’d be able to run it. But Michael loved it and was sure it was the right choice.

And he also got a good story out of Kordalski.

Funny aside: There was a second mixup. I had taken pains to e-mail the right page to the Newseum manually — typically the front is sent as an automatic feed. The reason it had to be e-mailed was that all the LeBron coverage went to our plant as section “X” because it was a wrap around the A-section, and the auto feed won’t recognize [a page labeled] X01.

But for a little while at least, the real A01 snuck through, got posted and the Weather Channel grabbed it. My wife happened to flip to the Weather Channel right as they were showing the page. The wrong page. I almost spewed Mini-Wheats everywhere when I heard something like, “According to The Plain Dealer, Cleveland’s not cloudy at all … not one mention of LeBron James leaving anywhere on the front page.”

On July 8, Apple shared a great page from Adam McHugh at GateHouse. (HT Brent Jones.) Read more


Advance Local president: ‘signs of success are everywhere’

Privately held Advance has been mostly mum on the results of its cutback of print editions in most markets and the relaunch of its newspapers as digital media companies. But in a year-end letter to employees, Advance Local President Randy Siegel partly answers one key questions skeptics like me have been posing:

Most of our new organizations are rapidly increasing their digital revenue and approaching the point where digital ad revenue growth will be larger than print ad revenue declines. This positions us well for the future given the inexorable shift of print advertising dollars to digital. When we started launching our new companies, growing digital ad revenue faster than losing print ad revenue was one of our preeminent goals and we are getting there sooner than expected. A special shout-out to our sales teams in Michigan, New Orleans and Syracuse where 25-30 percent year-over-year digital gains now seem par for the course.

Siegel also confirms that the print-to-digital strategy is coming to its New Jersey, Massachusetts, Staten Island and  Pennsylvania titles in the New Year. Read more


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 |

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,” 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. Read more

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Plain Dealer ‘eliminated the jobs of approximately 50 journalists’

Save The Plain Dealer

The Plain Dealer’s promised layoffs took place Wednesday morning. About 50 people lost their jobs, one report says.

“Many of those let go will be familiar names to readers – reporters, columnists, photographers and artists whose bylines have accompanied some of the paper’s finest content, and whose expertise touches virtually every subject the paper covers, from transportation and investigative reporting to education and sports coverage,” a post on the Save The Plain Dealer Facebook page says. “Many others, though less well-known publicly, have been every bit as essential to the quality of The Plain Dealer. They are editors, page designers and others whose skills have ensured a high-quality daily newspaper.”

You can buy them a drink:

Here are some more tweets: Read more

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Plain Dealer layoffs coming today

Save The Plain Dealer

“Reporters, editors, photographers, page designers and others have been told to wait by their phones between 8 and 10 a.m. to learn whether they have been let go, or whether they should show up for work,” a post on the Save The Plain Dealer’s Facebook page says.

The group plans two gatherings in Cleveland Wednesday: A rally at 6 p.m. outside the Plain Dealer offices, and a get-together at the Market Garden Brewery at 7 p.m.

Plain Dealer science writer John Mangels, who helped organize the Save The Plain Dealer campaign, wrote on Facebook Wednesday that he will leave. “The PD’s long, admirable commitment to in-depth science coverage was ending, so I volunteered to be among those laid off today.”

Plain Dealer Guild President Harlan Spector told Crain’s Jay Miller “the paper was reneging on an agreement about the number of jobs that would be retained by the newspaper company,” Miller writes.

“They told us we’d have 110 jobs guaranteed,” he said. “Now it looks like they are going to do something else and bring our numbers below that.”

In an email response to the Guild’s charges, Terry Egger, president and publisher of Plain Dealer Publishing Co., said, “We have always negotiated with them in good faith and have been able to reach and honor all agreements. This has been our practice in the past and we will continue to do the same in the future.”

A brief timeline of recent Plain Dealer changes recorded on Poynter: Read more


The Plain Dealer will end daily home delivery

The Plain Dealer | Save The Plain Dealer | Cleveland Magazine

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. Read more


Cleveland Plain Dealer union members ratify new agreement

The New Republic | Poynter
Cleveland Plain Dealer Guild members today ratified a proposed six-year contract that raises salaries by 8 percent and protects employees from staff cuts through early 2019; the raise takes effect after 58 positions are eliminated in 2013, a cut that eliminates about one-third of the newsroom.

The Guild was part of a “Save the Plain Dealer” public awareness campaign to protect the paper from staff cuts and a reduced print schedule, which its owner Advance has implemented or is currently implementing at its publications in Michigan, New Orleans, Alabama, Pennsylvania and New York. Read more


Cleveland Plain Dealer union gets new deal that protects staff from future layoffs, raises pay 8%

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has reached a new, tentative six-year agreement with the Guild’s bargaining committee. The new agreement offers some protections to the 58 people to be laid off next year and offers more protection to the employees who stay. The agreement also sheds some light on Advance’s plans for Cleveland publishing.

The layoffs were announced separately earlier this week and are not subject to negotiation. They will reduce the 168 Guild members in the newsroom by about one-third.

But the bargaining committee was able to limit future layoffs. “They had wanted to add a provision that allowed them to lose four [Guild] members a year through the length of the contract through attribution or layoffs,” Harlan Spector, chairman of the newspaper’s unit of the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild, said by phone Thursday night. “That could have been four layoffs a year for five years. … We gave them the right to lay off up to 5 in 2014 but then we’re done, everybody is protected after that.” Read more


Cleveland Plain Dealer tells Guild it plans to cut about one-third of newsroom staff

Facebook | Fox 8 Cleveland | Poynter
In a note posted on Facebook, Guild members say the Advance-owned Cleveland Plain Dealer has told them it plans to eliminate about one-third of the staff in 2013.

Harlan Spector, chairman of the newspaper’s unit of the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild, said by phone that the paper would be cutting 58 positions from a Guild group of about 168. Those people would be laid off or offered positions with Some managers will also be laid off, Spector said, but the Guild is not privy to those numbers.

The changes would come after the latest contract — which prohibits layoffs — expires on January 31, 2013.

Friends and supporters, we wanted to let you know that The Plain Dealer has told the Guild it plans to reduce the number of Guild members in the newsroom to 110 next year. Guild members are the heart of the paper. They report, photograph, copyedit, design, draw, create graphics, archive information, edit and so much more. The reductions, which represent about 1/3 of our membership, would be devastating to the news-gathering operation. The paper said most of the reduction would be through layoffs, though some employees will be offered jobs at They will not say how many or what those jobs would be. The Plain Dealer is pressing for the ability to handpick who stays and who goes.

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