CLEVELAND - Plain Dealer employees gathered on the Superior Avenue steps of the newspaper Wednesday night for a group photo, not unlike countless others taken over the years as an employee leaves. But this was no happy occasion.
"We have people who have been here for over 20 years in some cases who were shown the door today,” said Newspaper Guild Chairperson Harlan Spector.
Spector, among the roughly 50 employees, a third of the newsroom staff, that were laid off earlier in the day when they received phone calls telling them not to report for work.
“Having been there 27 years it's just rough for me because of all the relationships I have in the newsroom,” said veteran transportation writer Tom Breckenridge.
The evening rally on the steps provided the affected employees and those staying a chance to do what they were denied the opportunity to do, say goodbye.
“One of my editors from when I first came here in 1985 who helped me just a ton over the years was let go," said employee Grant Segall.
Bill Meyer who is staying said there were a lot of emotions. "We're grieving for one another but we're also grieving for what we fear may be a greatly lessened ability to serve this community."
The cuts come as the newspaper prepares to scale back home delivery next week to four days a week, the concern among the now former employees is coverage will also be scaled back and that would be Cleveland’s loss.
"This is such a hard luck city and it desperately needs a great newspaper and great journalists," said John Mangels.
Mangels along with Breckenridge and Spector voluntarily took the layoffs to save other workers jobs. "I'm going to decompress for awhile," said Spector, a 23 year employee. "Just going to explore some options out there and find out what life is like after journalism."
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