Plain Dealer: Specific plan, timeline and structure for Cleveland newspaper will be known soon

CLEVELAND - In a letter to readers Sunday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer editor says the "specific plan, timeline or structure" of the newspaper will be known "very soon."

The talk in recent weeks has been what will happen to the Plain Dealer? Will there be deep cuts or publication changes from 7 days a week to 3?

While the answers to those questions still remain uncertain, readers of Sunday's newspaper were told that "very soon" answers will be known.

Sunday's letter from publisher Terry Egger and editor Debra Adams Simmons begins with "Dear Readers," telling them "we do not have a specific plan, timeline or structure for Cleveland. But we will - very soon."

It goes on to say, "whatever our final decision, this is not about cost cutting. It is about making a bold move to sustain our mission and viability in the future. Our real value to the community, indeed our core competency, is the information we gather and provide for and about Northeast Ohio. We will continue in that role and we will continue to do it better than anyone else, while at the same time recognizing consumers' demand for information when and where they want to receive it."

But it's not how reporters there feel. John Mangels, chairman of the Save The Plain Dealer steering committee, wrote a response, saying "journalists who are conducting the Save The Plain Dealer campaign share Mr. Egger's and Ms. Adams Simmons' commitment to preserve quality journalism in Cleveland. But the actions of the paper's out-of-town owners undermine that commitment."

Mangels fear is that Advance Publications, which owns the Plain Dealer, will reduce the daily newspaper to three days a week and fire half or more of the experienced journalists who produce them. He said that's what's the publisher has done in other cities.

"It's basic math. Fewer journalists equal fewer questions, less scrutiny and shrinking coverage. It's all about cost-cutting. And that's unfortunate, because there are other alternatives available to Advance besides dismantling The Plain Dealer."

An exact date isn't known for the next direction of the Plain Dealer.

Save The Plain Dealer posted a letter on their Facebook page that you can read by clicking here: http://5.wews.com/fo319.

Below is the complete letter found in Sunday's newspaper:

Dear Readers:

Many of you have written both of us in recent weeks as word has spread about the critical work we are doing here at The Plain Dealer to better position our news organization for the future.

We want to thank you for the outpouring of support but also to reassure you that our single most important goal remains to serve Greater Cleveland with the best in breaking news, business, sports, arts and other local coverage, in-depth investigations and news you can trust as well as advertising solutions that help businesses grow. As we embrace dynamic shifts in the way information is consumed, our planning aims at ensuring our leadership in the market, upholding our journalistic standards and continuing our mission to serve the region for years to come.

As many readers know, we are part of Advance Publications. Several other Advance Publications newspapers, including in markets in Michigan, Alabama, New Orleans and, most recently, in Harrisburg, Pa., and Syracuse, N.Y., have launched - or are getting ready to launch - new, digitally focused companies.

While Advance has been developing and refining this effort for several years, it is the role of our leadership team in Cleveland to design the best model to safeguard the future of our enterprise and to preserve the quality of our journalism at The Plain Dealer.

Ours is not an "either/or" decision between print and digital. We must do both.

We do not have a specific plan, timeline or structure for Cleveland. But we will - very soon. We have opportunities to capitalize on the tremendous strengths of The Plain Dealer, Sun News and cleveland.com, which are all under the Advance umbrella.

We also have a chance to be even more useful and responsive to an audience that in recent years has migrated to digital platforms - looking online, on mobile devices and tablets for news and information we previously provided only in print.

Whatever our final decision, this is not about cost cutting. It is about making a bold move to sustain our mission and viability in the future. Our real value to the community, indeed our core competency, is the information we gather and provide for and about Northeast Ohio. We will continue in that role and we will continue to do it better than anyone else, while at the same time recognizing consumers' demand for information when and where they want to receive it.

The Plain Dealer has to respond to the sweeping changes

we see every day in how consumers are getting their news and information - and how advertisers are marketing themselves in this increasingly digital age. We must build a sustainable growth company, ensuring we have the stability and resources to increase our news coverage in the communities we serve - in print and online.

To do so requires a significant reset of our business. If we maintain the status quo, we risk doing what everyone - our employees, advertisers, and the community - wants to avoid: disappearing.

The Plain Dealer has evolved before in response to changing conditions and as part of our striving to best serve the needs of our readers, advertisers and the overall community. While rapid changes are occurring in the way news and information are distributed, one thing has not changed and will not change - our deep commitment to Northeast Ohio to deliver the highest-quality journalism and marketing solutions, on all platforms. We welcome your feedback.

The Plain Dealer can be reached at: tegger@plaind.com or dasimmons@plaind.com.
 

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