Cleveland Plain Dealer staffers facing layoffs

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The Cleveland Plain Dealer announced plans to lay off staffers in the marketing, finance, information technology, pre-press and building service departments Wednesday afternoon.

Staffers received an email saying that, between 6 and 8 p.m., some employees would receive a phone call informing them they would be let go from the paper.

Harlan Spector, chairman of the newspaper's unit of the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild, spoke with Poynter by phone about the news.

"The Guild had been expecting the layoff of 58 members, but about 10 news staffers have left the unit in recent months, so the number of layoffs should be reduced accordingly," he said. "The company also may offer some newsroom employees positions with the new media company, which also would reduce the number of layoffs."

Harlan said he expects newsroom layoffs to occur at the end of July/early August. The Advance-owned Plain Dealer has cut home delivery, and the likelihood of layoffs has been widely reported.

It's unfortunate, Spector said, that the Plain Dealer has not disclosed the latest number of layoffs.

"I wish they would have put a number out, out of public service. People have a right to know about this stuff. ... These are job losses in the city of Cleveland, and you would think there's some sort of moral obligation to disclose how many jobs they cut," he said. "We're all about demanding transparency of the people we cover. We should hold ourselves to the same standards. There's a certain amount of hypocrisy here."

(Poynter has contacted the paper's editor and publisher to inquire about the numbers but hasn't received a response yet.)

Save the Plain Dealer, a campaign aimed at saving the daily paper, first announced the news on its Facebook page Wednesday evening. Many people who commented on the post expressed sadness about the news and the fact that staffers were given such short notice. The post read, in part:

The Save The Plain Dealer campaign has said it before, and will keep repeating: These changes, which are devastating to the paper's loyal workforce and will diminish the journalism that readers depend on, ARE NOT NECESSARY. Other newspapers are adopting innovative and far less disruptive strategies that allow them to continue to serve their readers and maintain journalistic excellence while confronting the challenges of the digital era.

The post has received dozens of comments, including one from Jeannie Milhous, who worked in Information Systems. "I got my call," she wrote. "Gone after nearly 20 years."

Here's the note that Terry Egger, Andrea Hogben and Virginia Wang sent staffers Wednesday afternoon:

In September of 2012 we announced that we would begin the process of designing the best business model that would safeguard the future of this enterprise, ensure our leadership in the market, uphold our journalistic standards and continue our mission to serve the Northeastern Ohio community for years to come.

As we announced in our prior communications on April 4, 2013, to ensure that we are positioned to remain Northeast Ohio’s number one source for news and information in the ever-changing media environment, the Northeast Ohio Media Group will be launched later this summer and the Plain Dealer Publishing Company will adopt a new home delivery schedule for the newspaper.

These changes require a redesign of our operations that will result in a realignment of the workforce. These are difficult decisions, but are necessary.

From approximately 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. tonight, certain employees in the following departments (Advertising, Marketing, Prepress, Finance, Information Technology and Building Services) will receive a phone call informing them that they are being separated from employment. Employees who are not notified this evening should report for work at their next regularly scheduled time.

Employees who are called will be provided a time to meet tomorrow (June 20) with a Human Resources representative at the Tiedeman Production and Distribution Center. At that time, each impacted employee will receive a copy of his/her severance information and will also be given transitional details, including meeting with a representative Right Management, a company that specializes in transitional programs.

We will go through a similar process with employees in the remaining divisions at a later date.

We sincerely regret having to go through this process and we thank all who are impacted for their years of service and wish them all the best for their future.

We'll continue updating this story as we learn more.

  • Mallary Jean Tenore

    As managing editor of The Poynter Institute’s website,, I report on the media news industry, edit the site’s How To section, and moderate the site's live chats. I also help handle the site's social media efforts, and teach social media sessions on the side.


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