(Cleveland) -- About 50 newsroom employees of The Plain Dealer were told Wednesday in telephone calls that they were being laid off by the daily paper as part of cost-cutting moves. That's about one-third of the paper's newsroom staff.
Reporter Harlan Spector, who is also chairman of the Newspaper Guild at The Plain Dealer, tells WTAM 1100 that about 20 of those people, including himself, volunteered to be laid off, and are accepting the severance pay that is mandated by the Guild's contract, which amounts to two weeks pay for every year of service.
He says this is truly a hard day, not just for the people who were laid off, but also for those who were notified by phone that they'd be keeping their jobs. "They know what's happening, and they see people they've worked with for 20 or more years being let go," said Spector.
The staff cuts at The Plain Dealer, according to Spector, will affect news coverage, including the types of news that gets covered and the depth of coverage.
Spector says, "Reporters, editors, photographers, page designers, copy editors, people like that (will be gone). You can only imagine it's going to have an effect on news-gathering abilities." To that end, Spector says remaining Plain Dealer reporters will be posting more of their copy directly on Cleveland.com, and that means less copy will go through editors who check the reliability and accuracy of stories.
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, whose wife Connie Schultz won a Pulitzer Prize while with the PD, said, “Today, too many talented journalists lost their jobs at Ohio’s largest newspaper. These hardworking Ohioans should be commended for their commitment to an informed public and to each other during this challenging time of transition. Connie’s and my thoughts and prayers are with Northeast Ohioans who are both inside and outside of the newsroom.”
Members of the Newspaper Guild will rally in front of The Plain Dealer's offices on Superior Avenue tonight (Wednesday) at 6 p.m. It's a solidarity rally in support of those who have lost their jobs.
Advance Publications, owner of The Plain Dealer, is making staff cuts at other newspapers it owns across the country, and is also cutting back publication or home delivery of those papers. Starting the week of August 4, The Plain Dealer will eliminate home delivery on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, still publishing a paper those days, but one which will be available only at newsstands and through an e-edition.