|Headquarters||Plain Dealer Publishing Co|
4800 Tiedeman Road
Brooklyn, Ohio 44144
|Circulation||116,092 daily and 255,683 Sunday |
The Plain Dealer is the major daily newspaper of Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It has the largest circulation of any Ohio newspaper and was a top 20 newspaper for Sunday circulation in the United States as of March 2013.
As of December 2015, The Plain Dealer had more than 250,000 daily readers and 790,000 readers on Sunday.The Plain Dealer's media market, the Cleveland-Akron DMA (Designated Market Area), is one of the Top 20 markets in the United States. With a population of 3.8 million people, it is the fourth-largest market in the Midwest, and Ohio's largest media market.
In April 2013 The Plain Dealer announced it would reduce home delivery to four days a week, including Sunday. This went into effect on August 5, 2013. A daily version of The Plain Dealer is available electronically as well as in print at stores, newsracks and newsstands.
The newspaper was established in 1842, less than 50 years after Moses Cleaveland landed on the banks of the Cuyahoga River in The Flats, and is currently owned by Advance Publications (Newhouse Newspapers). The Plain Dealer Publishing Company is under the direction of George Rodrigue (president). The paper employs over 700 people.
Since the late 20th century, like others in the media business, the newspaper has faced numerous changes, sales, restructuring and staff layoffs. It was sold on March 1, 1967, to S.I. Newhouse's newspaper chain, and has been under the control of the Newhouse family ever since. The paper was previously held by the trusts of the Holden estate, and operated as The Plain Dealer Publishing Company, part of the Forest City Publishing Company, which also published the Cleveland News until its purchase and subsequent closing by its major competitor, the Cleveland Press, owned by the E.W. Scripps Company, in 1960.
On December 18, 2005, The Plain Dealer ceased publication of its weekly Sunday Magazine, which had been published continuously for over 85 years. The demise of the paper's Sunday Magazine was attributed to the high cost of newsprint and declining revenue. The PD reassigned the associated editors, designers and reporters to other areas of the newspaper. It also assured readers that the stories that would formerly have appeared in the Sunday Magazine would be integrated into other areas of the paper.
On the morning of Wednesday, July 31, 2013, nearly one third of the newsroom staff was eliminated through layoffs and voluntary resignations. The Plain Dealer's corporate owner, New York-based Advance Publications Inc., a private company run by the heirs of S.I. Newhouse, was implementing a strategy to cut staff and publication schedules in order to focus more on online news delivery. Previously, in December 2012, under an agreement with the Newspaper Guild, nearly two dozen union newsroom staff voluntarily accepted severance packages. The July round of layoffs led to accusations by the Guild that management had misled the union by cutting more employees than had been agreed upon.
On August 5, 2013, the Northeast Ohio Media Group launched and The Plain Dealer Publishing Company was formed. Northeast Ohio Media Group operates Cleveland.com and Sun Newspapers (also known as the Sun News suburban papers). It is responsible for all multimedia ad sales and marketing for The Plain Dealer, Sun News and Cleveland.com. It also provides content to The Plain Dealer, Cleveland.com and Sun News. The Plain Dealer Publishing Company provides content and publishes in print seven days a week. The company also provides production, distribution, finance, information technology, accounting and other support services for the Plain Dealer Publishing Co. and Northeast Ohio Media Group.
The daily paper costs $1.50 and the Sunday/Thanksgiving Day edition is $2.25 at newsstands/newsracks. The full subscription weekly price is $4.65. These prices only apply to The Plain Dealer's home delivery area, which are the Northeast Ohio counties of Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Portage, Erie, Ottawa, Summit, Ashtabula, Medina and Lorain. The Plain Dealer is available all over the state at select newsstands, including in the state capital, Columbus, and anywhere in the US or world via US mail service, in which prices are higher. The newspaper reported daily readership of 543,110 and Sunday readership of 858,376 as of October, 2013.
Effective August 5, 2013, home delivery was reduced to four days a week; a "premium" (full) edition on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, and a bonus version on Saturday. Subscribers to the three premium editions have access to a digital version seven days a week, which is an exact replica of the morning's paper. A print edition is still available daily at stores, newsracks and newsstands.
The Plain Dealer formerly operated a variety of news bureaux. By the middle of 2014, both the state capital bureau in Columbus and the Washington bureau were shifted to the Northeast Ohio Media Group, as shown by the affiliations of their bureau chiefs. 
The Plain Dealer is organized into several major sections, depending on the day of the week. The Sunday edition is, as with any major U.S. daily newspaper, the largest edition of the week. The current organization took effect August 5, 2013.
Major sections printed in most editions include:
The Plain Dealer employs a modern styling of a daily newspaper, but has undergone dramatic stylistic changes in the past few years[when?] to update the print edition's look. Weekday and Sunday editions regularly feature front pages with content boxes on the upper part of the page detailing news inside. The physical width of the paper has been reduced in recent years as well, a trend throughout the newspaper industry.
The Plain Dealer has been criticized by liberal columnists for staking out generally conservative positions on its editorial page, despite serving a predominantly Democratic readership base. In 2004, the editorial board voted to endorse Democratic US Senator John Kerry; after publisher Alex Machaskee overruled it, ordering the board to write an endorsement of Republican George W. Bush, editorial page editor Brent Larkin persuaded Machaskee to withhold any endorsement. The news coverage is generally more neutral, with national and international news often culled from wire services, including the New York Times.
The paper had been criticized as being too soft in its coverage of Sen. George Voinovich from Ohio and, in the 2004 election cycle for the U.S. Senate, not providing fair coverage, if any, to Voinovich's opponent, State Sen. Eric Fingerhut, a Democrat.
In 2005, the newspaper twice published lists of concealed weapon permit holders from the five counties around Cleveland. Editor Doug Clifton defended the paper's decision, sparking a feud with a pro-carry lobbyist group. State Senator Steve Austria called it abuse of the media access privilege, saying publishing these names would threaten the safety of the men and women who obtain these permits. An Ohio gun rights group then published Clifton's home address and phone number.
The Plain Dealer made national headlines in summer 2005, when editor Douglas Clifton announced that the newspaper was withholding two stories "of profound importance" after Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time Magazine were ordered to reveal confidential sources who had provided information on Valerie Plame, Joseph Wilson's wife, being a CIA operative. Wilson was a prominent critic of the administration. The decision to compel the reporters to reveal sources was seen in the news media as a license to go after reporters and newspapers in the courtroom for not revealing confidential informants. It was considered a violation of the trust between reporter and said informants. Clifton was vilified in the news media as "having no backbone" and he admitted that people could refer to him as "chickenshit". Clifton told the national press that while he and the reporters involved in the story were willing to be jailed for not revealing sources, the legal department of the Plain Dealer Publishing Company was worried that the newspaper itself would be sued and strongly opposed the printing of the stories. "Talking isn't an option and jail is too high a price to pay", Clifton said.
The controversy ended when the Cleveland Scene, an alternative weekly Cleveland newspaper, published a similar story. The Plain Dealer then printed the withheld story. It was a report of a federal corruption probe of former Mayor Michael R. White, which was leaked to the press by an attorney on the case. The second withheld story has yet to be revealed.
On September 17, 2008, Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer's music critic of 16 years, was told by the paper's editor, Susan Goldberg, that he would no longer be covering performances of the Cleveland Orchestra. Rosenberg had criticized its performances under its conductor Franz Welser-Möst, although his reviews of Welser-Möst as a conductor of operas had been positive. Terrance C. Z. Egger, president and publisher of the paper, is on the orchestra's board.
Welser-Möst had been strongly criticized during his earlier tenure at the London Philharmonic Orchestra, when London critics gave him the nickname "Frankly Worse than Most". In December 2008, Rosenberg sued Cleveland's Musical Arts Association, the newspaper and several members of their staffs, alleging a conspiracy to have him demoted. Rosenberg dropped a number of claims against the paper in 2009. In August 2009, a jury rejected the remaining claims.
In March 2010, the Plain Dealer reported that approximately 80 comments had been posted to articles on its web site by an account registered to the email address of Shirley Strickland Saffold, a judge sitting on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. Several of the comments, posted under the pseudonym lawmiss, discussed matters that were or had been before the judge. Although the judge's 23-year-old daughter Sydney Saffold took responsibility for the postings, the paper was able to use a public records request and determine that the exact times and dates of some of the postings corresponded to the times that the corresponding articles were being viewed on the judge's court-issued computer. The revelation led one attorney, who had been criticized in the postings, to request the judge recuse herself from a homicide trial in which he represented the defendant.Ohio Supreme Court Acting Chief Justice Paul E. Pfeifer subsequently removed Saffold from the case.
In October 2014, the Northeast Ohio Media Group hosted the three Ohio candidates for governor in what would be their only joint appearance. The debate was held before the NEOMG's editorial board (which also serves as the editorial board of The Plain Dealer) and NEOMG reporters. Incumbent Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, largely ignored his main rival, Democrat Ed FitzGerald. Kasich refused to admit he could hear the questions of FitzGerald, who was sitting next to him, and insisted that a reporter repeat them.
During the debate, a video camera was positioned eight feet in front of the candidates. The resulting video was posted on Cleveland.com. A few days later, however, it was removed. When other sites posted copies of the now-deleted video, the NEOMG sent letters threatening legal action. TechDirt reported that the owner of the Cleveland Plain Dealer had demanded that the unflattering video be taken down. The NEOMG's actions were covered by other media organizations and it was criticized by media observers. Chris Quinn, the NEOMG vice president who sent the letters, declined all requests for comment.
At 7 a.m. on the day after the election, which Kasich--endorsed by the NEOMG--won easily, the news organization posted online an explanation of events written by its reader representative. The column cited this as Quinn's explanation:
Shortly after the video was posted, the Kasich campaign contacted him and said it had not been aware a video would be posted online. Quinn eventually decided that his failure to explicitly explain the presence of a video camera was unfair. Further, "I thought that if I stated my reasons, the obvious next step would be people going to the candidates and asking them if they had any objection to putting the video back up," Quinn is quoted as saying. "That would mean my error could put people into an uncomfortable situation."
The Plain Dealer is the major news contributor to Cleveland.com, the regional news, event and communication portal run by Advance Digital via Northeast Ohio Media Group. The paper does not operate its own editorial website. Northeast Ohio Media Group runs a separate website for the business side of the newspaper, including advertising. Cleveland.com also features news from the Sun Newspapers, which are a group of smaller, weekly, more suburban-oriented newspapers in the Greater Cleveland metro area also owned by Advance Publications.
In July 2010, The Plain Dealer launched PolitiFact Ohio, a website that analyzes political issues relevant to Ohio and the greater Cleveland area. It also conducted fact-checking and was produced in conjunction with its creator, the Tampa Bay Times. Four years later, the relationship was ended. Although the operation had generated criticism, the decision to drop it was attributed instead to a desire to keep all content on Cleveland.com rather than the separate PolitiFact Ohio site, which remains available as an archive.