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The Cleveland Plain Dealer is cutting home delivery days
The paper will still publish a print version 7 days a week as it shifts focus to its digital services
by WKSU's KEVIN NIEDERMIER


Reporter
Kevin Niedermier
 
Print versions of the Plain Dealer will only be home delivered three days a week starting this summer, but the paper will still be printed each day as the Plain Dealer shifts more focus to its digital services.
Courtesy of Plain Dealer
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The Cleveland Plain Dealer will reduce home delivery later this year, but still crank-out a printed edition 7 days a week. Today’s announcement follows nervous speculation over what direction the Plain Dealer would take as it bolsters its digital side. WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier finds that print reporters at Ohio’s largest daily paper call the announcement "bittersweet."

Kevin Niedermier on Plain Dealer announcement

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Sometime this summer, the Plain Dealer will launch the Northeast Ohio Media Group. It will be responsible for all of the paper’s ad sales and marketing, and for Cleveland.com, the papers current online service. Print reporters will still put out a daily paper and contribute to the enhanced on-line news service. And a staff of non-union, on-line journalists and content producers will contribute to the print side. The announcement ends months of speculation over how the paper’s owner, Advance Publications, would change the print side. In other cities, like New Orleans, the company cut publication of the Times Picayune to just three days a week. Plain Dealer reporter John Mangels is a steering committee member of “Save the Plain Dealer,” an effort to raise public support for preserving the print edition. He says he’s still absorbing the announcement.

Plain Dealer staff somewhat relieved, but still wary

“It’s a bittersweet victory. We’re thankful the paper will still be printed 7 days a week, but we’re saddened and concerned that it will only be delivered three days a week. And we’re still concerned about planned newsroom layoffs, and what impact that will have on the paper’s ability to serve the community.”

Plans to cut more than 50 people from the newsroom’s staff of about 165 has been moved from May first to sometime later this summer.

“It remains to be seen how the Plain Dealer and its digital partner will cope with fewer people gathering and editing the news. We’ve been told all along that there will be some opportunities for print reporter to be employed on the digital side, but it’s not clear how many or when. And it’s still not clear how the print side and the digital side will work together.”

Other details are still being worked out. What is known is that the Plain Dealer will still deliver a print version to customers on Sunday, but the other two delivery days haven’t been decided yet. The paper’s weekday circulation is nearly 300,000. Weekday delivery is 63 cents a day, and it’s 75 cents a copy at the newsstand. Plain Dealer reporter Harlan Spector chairs the paper's union. He says any newspaper needs both strong print and digital services. But the loss of home delivery will hit older Plain Dealer subscribers the hardest.

Older home delivery subscribers expected to be impacted most

“They depend on it, and many have said they would pay more for delivery. Many of them can’t or won’t want to access the on-line version. And these very loyal customers wonder how they’ll be served.”

In some other cities where home delivery has been reduced but daily publishing continues, delivery people have made deals with their customers. They buy out stacks of papers from drug and convenience stores on the off days, and, for a price, make home deliveries to the people who still want papers on their doorsteps. Plain Dealer President Terry Eggers says the changes are intended to meet the evolving needs and habits of readers in the digital age. He says it will help serve the region with more efficient and flexible digital and print services.                                                                                            
Listener Comments:

Older people don't have computers..why can't Akron beacon come to Cleve?i think this stinks. Bring back press and news.


Posted by: Ken (Westlake) on May 24, 2013 10:05AM
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