Ohio's largest newspaper is due to shrink during the early months of next year. ideastream's David C. Barnett has the latest on plans to cut staff at the Plain Dealer.
Plain Dealer management is currently in negotiations with the local branch of the Newspaper Guild over a labor contract that expires at the end of next month. Guild chair Harlan Spector says the paper announced Monday that staffing cuts were coming.
HARLAN SPECTOR: It intends to reduce the workforce of the Guild members --- the unionized newsroom workforce --- down to 110 next year, which would mean that roughly 58 people would be laid-off, some of them would be offered jobs at Cleveland.com.
In 2008 50 staffers left the paper through voluntary buyouts and layoffs. Spector adds that others have been lost through attrition. He says the potential loss of nearly 60 more staff members would have a big impact.
HARLAN SPECTOR: We're talking about a little more than one third of our workforce --- these are reporters and some editors, and designers, photographers, and others.
The layoff announcement was not unexpected. Advance Publications, which owns the Plain Dealer, has taken similar action recently at several other papers, including the New Orleans Times Picayune, where 200 were laid off last summer. Those moves were also accompanied by a reduction in the number of days they publish in print.
Former Akron Beacon Journal editor Jan Leach is now an associate professor of Journalism at Kent State. She says that a modern newspaper has to strike a tough balance when it comes to making cuts
JAN LEACH: You have to look at it from the perspective of the owner, the investor, what the market can bear, the advertisers --- there is a business model. But, from a newsroom decision, you have to know there will be fewer people to cover the same subjects, topics, people, trends.
Plain Dealer publisher Terrance Egger declined to discuss any details of the current contract talks. There's also been no word so far about the possibility that the Plain Dealer could reduce its days of print publication --- perhaps to three times a week.