CLEVELAND - Thirty years ago, rumors were swirling that Cleveland’s afternoon daily paper the Cleveland Press was about to cease publishing.
The paper began in 1878 by Edward Willis Scripps as the Penny Press. His company would turn into a publishing and broadcasting powerhouse, which includes this television station, WEWS.
But after a sale to local businessman Joseph Cole in 1980, the paper was making some gains against the Plain Dealer, but financial losses were taking their toll.
June 16, 1982, those in the WEWS newsroom were trying to confirm the paper would publish its last edition the next day but no one would confirm the rumors. Our legendary journalist Dorothy Fuldheim overheard the conversation and asked if she could help.
Fuldheim was connected with movers and shakers in town, including Press owner Cole. After apprising her of the quandary, Dorothy asked for a phone to use.
After a few moments on the phone, she hung up and said, “It is true.”
Fuldheim broke the news to Cleveland on our 6 p.m. newscast.
Cleveland would lose a powerful voice of information and readers would lose longtime journalists fighting on their behalf. Nine hundred employees of the Press would lose their jobs.
There would now be just one newspaper in one of the nation’s top 10 markets.
I’ve put in our video player the first seven and a half minutes of our 11 p.m. newscast as the paper put out its last edition.
Jeff Maynor interviewed new Press hire Dan Coughlin. Coughlin was a coup for the Press having wooed him from the Plain Dealer just a few weeks before on April 1.
Coughlin, who went on to have a long career at WJW, told me he was assured by Press management over and over the paper was solid and was not closing. Ten weeks after signing on, the paper closed.
You’ll see in Maynor’s interview Coughlin wanting to hear the news of the closing himself.
An interesting aside to Maynor’s story inside the Press city room, security personnel at the Press were told not to let TV cameras into the building.
Maynor and WEWS cameraman Harry Dorsey found a way around not going past security guards with the camera; they walked into the city room without the camera, dropped an extension cord out a nearby men’s room window to the parking lot and hoisted the gear in through the window.
After Maynor’s story, you’ll see Ted Henry talking with two longtime Press reporters Bill and Betty Hughes and a former editor Tom Boardman.
We close with Paul Orlousky giving a timeline, almost an obituary as the last edition comes off the presses.
Iconic Cleveland Press columnist Dick Feagler wrote an obituary-like column for the paper in its final edition, click here to read Feagler’s final Press column.
Cole donated the morgue, a newspaper name for their archives, to Cleveland State University. The Cleveland Press Collection containing millions of pictures and articles from the paper now live there and are open to the public both in person and online.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Cleveland’s rib cook-offs have had numerous homes in their 30-some years of barbecuing. In our video player, it’s 1990 and the cook-off is at North Coast Harbor.
A 1992 cover story, told by Wilma Smith, takes a look back at the WEWS anchor team's beginnings.
Wilma Smith grew up in Garfield Heights, but was working in Richmond, Va. when she was picked by WEWS to host the new Afternoon Exchange in 1977.