Advance Publications continues its newspaper-cutting march to the sea.
The New Jersey-based company that owns The Oregonian is planning to cut newsroom staff at The Cleveland Plain Dealer by a third and reduce print editions to three days a week, according to the newspaper Guild at The Plain Dealer. Poynter broke the story this week.
"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," the Guild wrote on its Facebook page this week. "The paper said most of the reduction would be through layoffs, though some employees will be offered jobs at cleveland.com. 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."
The belief that Advance plans to cease publishing a daily paper in Cleveland is so widespread that employees have started a public "Save the Plain Dealer" campaign, with billboards and a locally brewed "7-Day Lager."
Advance, owned by heirs of press magnate S.I. Newhouse, has already ended
daily publishing at eight newspapers in Michigan, Alabama and Louisiana—including the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
In August, WW reported widespread fear within The Oregonian that such print reductions and mass layoffs are headed for Portland.
The Cleveland Scene—the city's alt-weekly—published a similar warning this week:
In an open letter to readers on page one of the Sunday, Nov. 18 Plain Dealer, Publisher Terry Egger and Editor Debra Simmons admitted that changes were coming and acknowledged Advance's resumé of downsizing. It was an unusual and unprecedented public statement from the top two at the paper, prompted in part by the Save the Plain Dealer campaign, which was trying to proactively spread word of the looming danger.
"While Advance has been developing and refining this effort for several years, it is the role of our leadership team in Cleveland to design the best model to safeguard the future of our enterprise and to preserve the quality of our journalism at The Plain Dealer," Egger and Simmons wrote. "We do not have a specific plan, timeline or structure for Cleveland. But we will — very soon."
Which is bullshit. The Newhouse family, which runs Advance Publications, knows very well what the plan and timeline is for The Plain Dealer. It's the same plan rolled out in all the cities mentioned above. And when it's done here, Cleveland will be the largest city in America without a daily newspaper.