The Plain Dealer’s ‘reset’ gets all too real

Sizable newsroom reductions ahead, says “Save The Plain Dealer

Last week, TC Brown wrote for CJR about the “significant reset” ahead for the Advance Publications-owned Cleveland Plain Dealer (See: Picayune, Times-), and the staff-driven “Save The Plain Dealer Campaign” spearheaded by the Newspaper Guild which represents about 170 writers, photographers, designers and other newspaper staff. (The New York Times and USA Today have since written about this as well).

Last night, an update appeared on the “Save The Plain Dealer” Facebook page which read, in part:

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.

The company also wants to reduce the newsroom by at least 20 more positions in the following years. Makes us wonder how that equals the quality of journalism Plain Dealer leaders have been publicly promising.

Last week, PD reporters contacted by CJR’s Brown were cautiously hopeful about the paper’s future and ability to continue producing the sort of journalism that—as Brown wrote, specifically of political reporting—“stands out in this state.” As details trickle out about what a “reset” Plain Dealer might look like, it’s going to be tough to maintain that optimistic outlook.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.