The Plain Dealer is the major daily newspaper of Cleveland, Ohio. It has the largest circulation of any Ohio newspaper, and is a top 20 newspaper for circulation in the United States. The Plain Dealer currently boasts more than 785,000 readers on weekdays and 1 million readers on Sunday. The Plain Dealer reported an average daily paid circulation of 336,939 for the six-month period ending in September, 2006. The Plain Dealer's media market, Greater Cleveland, is ranked #1 in the country for Sunday newspaper readership percentage (75.4% of total adults) and #2 in daily newspaper readership percentage (62.6% of total adults), second only to New York Times in the weekday editions.
History and Ownership
The newspaper was established in 1842, less than 50 years after Moses Cleaveland landed on the banks of the Cuyahoga River in The Flats, and is currently owned by Advance Publications (Newhouse Newspapers). The Plain Dealer is under the direction of Terrance C.Z. Egger, who serves as President and Publisher, Robert M. Long, Executive Vice President, as well as Susan Goldberg, who serves as Editor, replacing Doug Clifton. The paper employs over 1,500 people. The paper is referred to in short by Clevelanders as the "P.D.," as well as the "PeeDee" (the latter sometimes in a derogatory manner by critics of the paper). In 1917, the Cleveland Leader merged with The Plain Dealer.
The newspaper was sold on March 1, 1967 to S.I. Newhouse's newspaper chain, and has been under the control of the Newhouse family ever since. The paper was previously held by the trusts of the Holden estate, and operated as The Plain Dealer Publishing Company, part of the Forest City Publishing Company, which also published the Cleveland News until its purchase and subsequent closure by its major competitor, the Cleveland Press, owned by the E.W. Scripps Company, in 1960.
On December 18, 2005, The Plain Dealer ceased publication of its weekly Sunday Magazine, which had been published uninterrupted for over 85 years. The demise of the paper's Sunday Magazine was attributed to the high cost of newsprint and declining revenue, and the PD reassigned the editors, designers, and reporters to other areas of the newspaper. It also assured readers that the stories that would formerly have appeared in the Sunday Magazine would be integrated into other areas of the paper.
On May 14, 2007, Susan Goldberg, formerly Executive Editor of the San Jose Mercury News, was announced as Doug Clifton's replacement, effective May 29, 2007.
In 2005, Connie Schultz
won the Pulitzer Prize
for commentary. It was the first Pulitzer for The Plain Dealer
since 1953. Schultz announced a self-imposed sabbatical from her column in February 2006, to work on her husband Congressman Sherrod Brown
's (successful) run for U.S. Senate. Schultz returned to print in January, 2007.
In 2008, columnist Regina Brett was a Pulitzer finalist for commentary.
Other recent awards have included a "2003 Editor of the Year" honor for Doug Clifton, given by Editor & Publisher, the industry newsletter. E&P cited Clifton's efforts to energize The Plain Dealer's reporters and newsroom as quick and extremely successful; they had been languishing for years beforehand.
The Plain Dealer was named best large newspaper in Ohio by the Associated Press in April 2007.
Between 2001 and 2008, The Plain Dealer's photography staff was named Staff of the Year eight consecutive times by the Ohio News Photographer's Association.
The Plain Dealer has been a consistent top-ten finisher in the Society for News Design annual "Best of Newspaper Design" competition. In the 29th edition (for work done in calendar year 2007), the paper received 25 awards, including two Silver medals and one of only six Gold medals awarded in the competition.
Three Plain Dealer staffers won National Headliner Awards in 2008: columnist Philip Morris, photographer Gus Chan and illustrator/photographer Andrea Levy, who won her fifth consecutive Headliner.
Pricing, distribution, circulation
The daily paper costs 75 cents at the newsstand
, 42 cents for home delivery
, and the Sunday edition is $1.50 for newsstand or home delivery. These prices only apply to The Plain Dealer
's home delivery area, which are the Northeast Ohio
counties of Cuyahoga
. The Plain Dealer
is however, available all over the state at the newsstand, including the state capital, Columbus
, and anywhere in the US or world via US mail service. The Plain Dealer
currently has a total circulation of 330,280 on weekdays and 442,482 on Sunday, making the paper the largest newspaper in Ohio by circulation, a status it has held for some time. The paper posted an increase in weekday circulation for the first time in recent memory in April 2007.
The Plain Dealer
operates a variety of news bureaus. In addition to its local metro reporters
, The Plain Dealer
operates a bureau in Columbus, at the state capital, that focuses on state-wide news and reporting. The P.D.
also operates a Washington
bureau that reports on national news and events, focusing on the actions of and stories relating to the Ohio delegation in the U.S. Congress
The Plain Dealer
is organized into several major sections, depending on the day of the week. The Sunday edition is, as with any major U.S. daily newspaper, the largest edition of the week. The current organization took effect July 1, 2008.
Major sections printed on most editions include:
News : Includes Front Page, International, and National News (including Washington, D.C.).Metro : Local news for Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, obituaries and death notices, local, national and international weather, as well as Opinion and Forum, the paper's opinion, letters to the editor, and editorial commentary section.Business : Local and national business news, stocks, bonds.Sports : Cleveland and National Sports News and Commentary. The sports section focuses its "beat reporters" on the Browns
, and Cleveland State Vikings
in addition to heavy coverage of the Ohio State University
football team. Arts & Life : Arts, Entertainment and Living Section. Includes comics
(printed in full color in almost all daily editions, black & white is quite rare).Classifieds : Home, auto, jobs, other classified advertising.
In addition to these sections, various work week editions include special sections such as:Business Monday : Special Monday business section featuring long-format articles and advice.Mosaic : Section highlighting Cleveland's cultural diversity.Taste : Recipes and reviews of food, area restaurants, and food-related events.Inside and Out : Home and garden section, with articles relating to home improvement and decoration.The Locker Room: High school sports insert section with human interest pieces on area high school athletes in a variety of sports.Friday! Magazine : Recently revamped weekend magazine featuring movie reveiews, event calendars, restaurant reviews and other cultural / nightlife pieces.Real Estate : Insert section highlighting area real estate and communities to live in.Golf Monday : Is a section dedicated to golf. It debuted on April 7, 2003.
and other sections.
Sunday Plain Dealer
Sunday editions include, in addition to the major sections above:Driving : special section on driving and automobile reviews.Travel : detailing travel tips.PDQ : "lighter" feature section aimed at younger readers.Homes : detailing homes in the area and housing trends.Sunday Arts : expanded arts section.BigCollegeSunday : college football section, focusing on Ohio State
The Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine : was discontinued as of December 18, 2005Style : was discontinued and merged into Style & Taste as of July 1, 2008Taste : was discontinued and merged into Style & Taste as of July 1, 2008Arts & Life : was discontinued and merged into Diversions as of July 1, 2008
The Plain Dealer
employs a modern styling of a daily newspaper, and the P.D.
itself has undergone dramatic stylistic changes in the past few years to update the print edition's look. The Sunday edition was known as Plain Dealer Sunday,
while weekday editions were The Plain Dealer
, however in recent weeks the paper has standardized its masthead as "The Plain Dealer" across all weekday editions and refers to the Sunday edition as "Sunday Plain Dealer". Sunday is also more colorful and includes many one-time special sections with full page graphics, pictures, and other content. Weekday and Sunday editions regularly feature front pages with content boxes on the upper part of the page detailing news inside. The physical width of the paper has been reduced in recent years as well, a trend throughout the newspaper industry.
Executive staff and editors
- Terrance C.Z. Egger, President and Publisher
- Robert M. Long, Executive Vice President
- Susan Goldberg, Editor
- Brent Larkin, Opinion Editor
- Daryl Kannberg, National and Foreign News Editor
- Ted Diadiun, Reader Representative (ombudsman)
- Elizabeth McIntyre, Assistant Managing Editor/Metro
- Chris Quinn, Metro Editor
- Debbie Van Tassel, Assistant Managing Editor/Features
- Paul O'Donnell, Business Editor, took paper's buyout offer, last day 10/10/2008
- Kathy Kroll, National Editor
- Roy Hewitt, Sports Editor
- Chris Jindra, Sunday Editor
- David Kordalski, Visual Editor
- Kim Crow, Style Editor
- Stuart Warner, Projects Editor/Writing Coach, took paper's buyout offer, last day 9/26/2008
- Tony Brown, theater
- John Campanelli, pop culture
- Joe Crea, food
- Kim Crow, fashion
- Dick Feagler
- Regina Brett
- Brent Larkin
- Bill Lubinger, restaurants
- Phillip Morris
- Kevin O'Brien
- Donald Rosenberg, ballet, opera and other classical music events, but not the Cleveland Orchestra
- Chris Sheridan
- John Soeder, pop music
- Elizabeth Sullivan
- Bill Livingston, Sports
- Terry Pluto, Sports
- Bud Shaw, Sports
- Connie Schultz
- Michael Heaton, Minister of Culture
- Sheryl Harris, Consumer Affairs
- Teresa Dixon Murray, Personal Finance
- John Kroll, Weekend Diary (podcast)
Criticism and controversies
The Plain Dealer
has been criticized by liberal columnists for staking out generally conservative
positions on its editorial page, despite the heavy Democratic tilt of its Northeast Ohio readership. In 2004, most notoriously, the publisher decided to endorse no candidate rather than endorse John Kerry
as the editorial board had recommended. The news coverage is generally more neutral, with national and international news often culled from wire services
, including the New York Times
and Washington Post.
The paper has also been accused of being too soft on Sen. George Voinovich, and in the 2004 election cycle for the U.S. Senate, not providing fair coverage, if any, to Voinovich's opponent, State Sen. Eric Fingerhut, a Democrat.
Publishing concealed weapons permit holder lists
In 2005, the newspaper twice published lists of concealed weapon permit holders from the 5 counties around Cleveland. Editor Doug Clifton defended the paper's decision, sparking a feud with a pro-carry lobbyist group. State Senator Steve Austria called it abuse of the media access privilege, saying publishing these names would threaten the safety of the men and women who obtain these permits. An Ohio gun rights
group then published Mr. Clifton's home address and phone number.
"Held stories" controversy
The Plain Dealer
made national headlines in the summer of 2005, when editor Douglas Clifton announced that the newspaper was withholding two stories "of profound importance" after Judith Miller
of The New York Times
and Matthew Cooper
of Time Magazine
were ordered to reveal confidential sources who had provided information on Joseph Wilson's wife
being a CIA
operative. The decision to compel the reporters to reveal sources was seen in the news media as a license to go after reporters and newspapers in the courtroom for not revealing confidential informants and a violation of the trust between reporter and said informants. Clifton was vilified in the news media as "having no backbone" and he himself even admitted that people could refer to him as "chickenshit." Clifton told the national press that while he and the reporters involved in the story were willing to be jailed for not revealing sources, the legal department of the Plain Dealer Publishing Company was worried that the newspaper itself would be sued and strongly opposed the printing of the stories. "Talking isn't an option and jail is too high a price to pay", Clifton said. The controversy ended when the Cleveland Scene
, an alternative weekly
Cleveland newspaper, published a similar story, thus allowing The Plain Dealer
to print the withheld story. The story turned out to be on former Mayor Michael R. White
's federal corruption probe, which was leaked to the press by an attorney on the case. The second withheld story has yet to be revealed.
Theater critic assaulted
In late 2006, the head of the Cleveland Play House
assaulted theater critic Tony Brown after a negative review of a Play House play.
Music critic sidelined
On September 17, 2008, The Plain Dealer
's music critic of 16 years, Donald Rosenberg, was told by the paper's editor, Susan Goldberg, the he would no longer be covering performances of the Cleveland Orchestra
. Rosenberg had been critical of orchestral performances under its conductor Franz Welser-Möst
, although his reviews of Welser-Möst as a conductor of operas had been positive. Terrance C. Z. Egger, president and publisher of the paper, is also on the orchestra's board. Welser-Möst is no stranger to robust criticism; during his tenure at the London Philharmonic Orchestra
London critics gave him the nickname "Frankly Worse than Most".
The Plain Dealer
is the major news contributor to Cleveland.com
, the regional news, event, and communication portal
run by Advance Internet
. The paper does not operate its own editorial website, but does run a separate website for the business side of the newspaper, including advertising. Cleveland.com also features news from WKYC-TV
, the local NBC affiliate
, and the Sun Newspapers
, which are a group of smaller, weekly, more suburban-oriented newspapers in the Greater Cleveland metro area also owned by Advance Publications. The Sun Newspapers
are the largest chain of paid weekly newspapers in the country.
The quality of the site (as well as other Advance Internet sites) is regularly criticized by the staff, including Editor Doug Clifton, newsroom staff and locals.
The website was recently been redesigned as a result.
References to The Plain Dealer in popular culture
- The paper was parodied as the Sto Plains Dealer in Going Postal by Terry Pratchett.
- Janet uses The Plain Dealer to cover her head in the rain in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
- Santa reads about himself in the Plain Dealer in the Christmas special The Year Without a Santa Claus.
- In The Mad Scientists' Club children's story "The Strange Sea Monster of Strawberry Lake," the young heroes confide in a reporter for The Plain Dealer in revealing that they are behind the fake sea monster.
- The title of the humor publication of the University of Chicago, The Chicago Shady Dealer, is a parodied title of The Plain Dealer
- Headlines from The Plain Dealer were created for the film Major League.