Saturday, January 18, 2014

In Case You Missed It - The Cleveland Plain Dealer and The End Of An Era

This Used To Be A Newsroom - By Anna Clark
As a major reorganization of the Cleveland Plain Dealer takes shape, veteran reporters are adjusting to “backpack journalism,” the division of staff into two companies, a looming move to a new office, and demands to post stories more quickly.
At the same time, they are memorializing their old newsroom in striking images that are circulating on social media and in email chains. One such photo was sent to CJR by a former Plain Dealer employee with the subject line, “This used to be a newsroom.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer Newsroom January 2014 Photo Credit: Jon Fobes CPD
 Over the past year, the Cleveland paper has followed much the same plan that owner Advance Publications carved out in New Orleans and elsewhere: it reduced print deliveryshed staff through layoffs and buyouts, and saw the creation of a new, non-unionized digital company under the same corporate umbrella. The Plain Dealer Publishing Co. and the new company, Northeast Ohio Media Group, are separate entities, but both contribute material to the free website and to the print newspaper, which saw its newsstand price rise to $1 this week.
The changes aren’t just to the org chart. Amid an overhaul of the editorial workspace, the paper’s “newsroom culture is gone,” one Plain Dealer reporter told me. (He, like the other current Plain Dealer staffers in this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity.)

Cleveland Plain Dealer Newsroom November 2010 Photo Credit: Bill Ganon
The old Plain Dealer newsroom, at 1801 Superior Ave., is in a building constructed in 1999, during what we can now see as the beginning of the end of an era. A press release at the time said the building would “house about 1,000 employees” across the news and business divisions. A second longtime Plain Dealer reporter described it as “overbuilt” even when it was new; for the last few years, the company leased one floor to a software firm, she said.
After the most recent wave of layoffs, the second reporter said, the staff was so depleted—The Plain Dealer now reportedly has about 95 editorial and production employees—that “it was deemed not worth it to keep us there in the main newsroom.”

Most of the paper’s reporters and editors will soon relocate to the Skylight Office Tower at Tower City Center, a shopping mall/office/transit complex in downtown Cleveland, where they will occupy space above Cleveland’s Hard Rock Café. Meanwhile, the “Pub Hub,” a group of about 30 to 40 designers, editors, and print production staff, will move to the company’s printing and distribution plant in the Cleveland suburbs. And Northeast Ohio Media Group—which has hired new staff in recent months and still has several job openings—will move its employees into renovated space at the Superior Avenue building. (They are currently based in office space in The Flats, a neighborhood along the Cuyahoga River.) The moves are expected to be completed around March.
The original article in its entirety is here:
Cedar's Take: The Plain Dealer had to, as will the Charlotte Observer in short order, downsize. With the hay days of print news behind us the future is not all dark and ominous.
Yet, I still cherish the memory of dashing into the Charlotte Observer building with a roll of Tri-X in hand for the first time. The newsroom looked just as the one above, 100's of people working, the excitement of the afternoon's paper about to go to press and for a fleeting moment I had everyone's attention.
I had 36 photos of a shooting and arrest as it happened just blocks from the Observer Building. While bystanders ducked for cover, the idiot in me charged towards the gunfire. Photos of the shooter and the aftermath, were up close and very personal some so graphic they were not published.  Others so racially charged they too were not printed.  
Four dozen by-lines later I'd take a real job with a salary elsewhere working for John Kilgo and Stan Kaplan but for a short period, the real paper was my home.


Anonymous said...

Almost without exception, Charlotte "news" has a complete lack of conviction in pursuing, researching and reporting real news reports that affect the community. No sense irritating your friends that send you fluff pieces with good video, right? Let the corrupt actions continue unexposed. Charlotte police and the rest of city government are run by a bunch of deceitful cowards--even the ones who know what's going on behind RoMo's closed doors won't change a thing. If they don't know, shame on them for sticking heads in the sand. Tacit complicity is as bad and damaging as being involved directly. Bad for the good cops. Bad for the city.

Too bad we don't have more than one or two good reporters in town. Too bad the station owners barely let them report.

When I read "this used to be a newsroom" I thought it was somewhere in Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

Cedar, for real? You worked as a photographer for the Observer? No way?

Anonymous said...

When a company like the PD has a publisher like Alex "the snake" who acted as a king and always hired people dumber than him, to protect his image, you can expect to fail.
The list is long.
It is a shame that a once thriving company could be allowed to be destroyed by a group of totally incompetent managers.