Living on a prayer

Tyler Hoffman, Editor-in-Chief

Each day The Plain Dealer, our city’s only daily newspaper, publishes the obituaries of Greater Cleveland’s deceased. And unless drastic steps are taken soon, it will soon be publishing its own.

Advance Publications, The Plain Dealer’s parent company, has already moved several of its other newspapers across the country to new models, which emphasize online content and only publish in print three days a week.

Fearing a similar directive from the paper’s owner, members of Local 1 of the Newspaper Guild have purchased advertisements around Cleveland, from billboards to bus placards, to raise awareness about the possible change. The Guild also hopes that community leaders, in addition to readers and advertisers, will attempt to convince Advance that Cleveland both desires and requires a seven-day-a-week newspaper.

As reported by WKYC-TV on Nov. 8, the looming threat has the potential to make Cleveland the biggest city in the nation without its own daily newspaper. The report went on to include supportive remarks from former Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.

“Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and all of Northeast Ohio deserve a first-rate, seven-day-a-week newspaper the entire community can access…to move to anything less…will send a message [that] our region is [not] economically viable, and that is anything but the truth,” FitzGerald told WKYC-TV.

Many comments posted online tell a different story, though. Current and former subscribers voicing support for the paper moving to a new model cite reasons ranging from poor delivery service to lackluster reporting.

Meanwhile, many expressed that they believe that the city needs a daily newspaper in order to adequately serve senior citizens and people for whom internet access is not readily available.

As a collegiate newspaper editor, I feel obliged to support The Plain Dealer remaining a seven-day-a-week publication. However, I also believe that the seemingly large number of constituents who wish to see the paper minimized is quite telling.

If The Plain Dealer remains a seven-day-a-week newspaper, I hope the editorial staff, reporters, designers, and photographers, will take a good, hard look at the comments given by their audience, both the positive and the negative.

Our communities need great journalism. We need local reporters who care about the people and the issues they’re covering. We need watchdog investigators who can hold local leaders and businesses accountable.

Whether this should continue to come in the form of a seven-day-a-week newspaper, time will only tell. I fully believe that some stories are best told when newsprint is left on the readers’ hands. But if my options are between outstanding digital journalism and diluted print reporting, my decision is made and my computer is switched on.