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The Plain Dealer

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The Plain Dealer is the major daily newspaper of Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It has the largest circulation of any Ohio newspaper and was a top 20 newspaper for Sunday circulation in the United States as of March 2013.[2]

The Plain Dealer
The Plain Dealer (2007-08-08).svg
TypeDaily newspaper
Owner(s)Advance Publications
(Newhouse Newspapers)
Founded1842; 177 years ago (1842)
HeadquartersPlain Dealer Publishing Co
4800 Tiedeman Road
Brooklyn, Ohio 44144
Circulation116,092 daily and 255,683 Sunday [1]

As of December 2015, The Plain Dealer had more than 250,000 daily readers and 790,000 readers on Sunday.[3] The Plain Dealer's media market, the Cleveland-Akron DMA (Designated Market Area), is one of the Top 20 markets in the United States. With a population of 3.8 million people, it is the fourth-largest market in the Midwest, and Ohio's largest media market.[4]

In April 2013 The Plain Dealer announced it would reduce home delivery to four days a week, including Sunday.[5] This went into effect on August 5, 2013. A daily version of The Plain Dealer is available electronically as well as in print at stores, newsracks and newsstands.

History and ownershipEdit

Front page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer dated August 7, 1945 featuring the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.

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).[6] The Plain Dealer Publishing Company is under the direction of George Rodrigue (president). The paper employs over 700 people.

Since the late 20th century, like others in the media business, the newspaper has faced numerous changes, sales, restructuring and staff layoffs. It 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.[7] 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 closing by its major competitor, the Cleveland Press, owned by the E.W. Scripps Company, in 1960.[8]

On December 18, 2005, The Plain Dealer ceased publication of its weekly Sunday Magazine, which had been published continuously for over 85 years.[9] The demise of the paper's Sunday Magazine was attributed to the high cost of newsprint and declining revenue. The PD reassigned the associated 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 the morning of Wednesday, July 31, 2013, nearly one third of the newsroom staff was eliminated through layoffs and voluntary resignations. The Plain Dealer's corporate owner, New York-based Advance Publications Inc., a private company run by the heirs of S.I. Newhouse, was implementing a strategy to cut staff and publication schedules in order to focus more on online news delivery. Previously, in December 2012, under an agreement with the Newspaper Guild, nearly two dozen union newsroom staff voluntarily accepted severance packages.[10] The July round of layoffs led to accusations by the Guild that management had misled the union by cutting more employees than had been agreed upon.[11]

On August 5, 2013, the Northeast Ohio Media Group launched and The Plain Dealer Publishing Company was formed. Northeast Ohio Media Group operates and Sun Newspapers (also known as the Sun News suburban papers). It is responsible for all multimedia ad sales and marketing for The Plain Dealer, Sun News and It also provides content to The Plain Dealer, and Sun News. The Plain Dealer Publishing Company provides content and publishes in print seven days a week. The company also provides production, distribution, finance, information technology, accounting and other support services for the Plain Dealer Publishing Co. and Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Awards and honorsEdit

Pricing, distribution, circulationEdit

The daily paper costs $2 and the Sunday edition is $3 at newsstands/newsracks. The full subscription weekly price is $4.65. These prices only apply to The Plain Dealer's home delivery area, which are the Northeast Ohio counties of Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Portage, Erie, Ottawa, Summit, Ashtabula, Medina and Lorain. The Plain Dealer is available all over the state at select newsstands, including in the state capital, Columbus, and anywhere in the US or world via US mail service, in which prices are higher. The newspaper reported daily readership of 543,110 and Sunday readership of 858,376 as of October, 2013.[3]

Effective August 5, 2013, home delivery was reduced to four days a week; a "premium" (full) edition on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, and a bonus version on Saturday.[23] Subscribers to the three premium editions have access to a digital version seven days a week, which is an exact replica of the morning's paper.[24] A print edition is still available daily at stores, newsracks and newsstands.[24]


The Plain Dealer formerly operated a variety of news bureaux. By the middle of 2014, both the state capital bureau in Columbus and the Washington bureau were shifted to the Northeast Ohio Media Group, as shown by the affiliations of their bureau chiefs. [25][26]

Major sectionsEdit

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 August 5, 2013.

Major sections printed in most editions include:

All editionsEdit

Local, state, national, and international news, editorial/op-ed page, and weather
Local and national business news, stocks, bonds.
Cleveland and national sports news and commentary. The sports section focuses its beat reporters on the Browns, Cavaliers, Indians, Cleveland State Vikings men's basketball, Mid-American Conference football and basketball and Ohio State Buckeyes football and men's basketball.
Includes comics (printed in full color), TV listings, and the Dear Abby advice column.
Home, auto, jobs, other classified advertising.

Weekly featuresEdit

On October 8, 1922, The Plain Dealer, published an article written by Royal S. Copeland telling Clevelanders to "Eat Candy as a Part of Your Daily Meal and Enjoy the Best of Health."
Friday! Magazine 
Weekend magazine featuring movie reviews, event calendars, restaurant reviews and other cultural/nightlife pieces. (Friday)
Articles and stories about the latest trends in food, locally and nationally (Wednesday)
North Coast 
detailing local trends and community stories. (Sunday)
expanded arts section. (Sunday)
expanded business section. (Sunday)
Buckeyes Extra 
expanded Ohio State football coverage. (Sunday)
Browns Extra 
expanded Browns coverage (Monday)
expanded editorial and opinion section. (Sunday)

Discontinued sectionsEdit

The Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine
discontinued as of December 18, 2005
discontinued and merged into Style & Taste as of July 1, 2008[27]
a section devoted to younger readers that was discontinued in 2008.


The Plain Dealer employs a modern styling of a daily newspaper, but has undergone dramatic stylistic changes in the past few years[when?] to update the print edition's look. 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.

Criticism and controversiesEdit

Political leaningsEdit

The Plain Dealer has been criticized by liberal columnists for staking out generally conservative positions on its editorial page, despite serving a predominantly Democratic readership base. In 2004, the editorial board voted to endorse Democratic US Senator John Kerry; after publisher Alex Machaskee overruled it, ordering the board to write an endorsement of Republican George W. Bush, editorial page editor Brent Larkin persuaded Machaskee to withhold any endorsement.[28] The news coverage is generally more neutral, with national and international news often culled from wire services, including the New York Times.

The paper had been criticized as being too soft in its coverage of Sen. George Voinovich from Ohio 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.[29]

Publishing concealed weapons permit holder listsEdit

In 2005, the newspaper twice published lists of concealed weapon permit holders from the five 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 Clifton's home address and phone number.[30]

"Held stories" controversyEdit

The Plain Dealer made national headlines in summer 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 Valerie Plame, Joseph Wilson's wife, being a CIA operative. Wilson was a prominent critic of the administration. 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. It was considered a violation of the trust between reporter and said informants. Clifton was vilified in the news media as "having no backbone" and he 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.[31]

The controversy ended when the Cleveland Scene, an alternative weekly Cleveland newspaper, published a similar story. The Plain Dealer then printed the withheld story. It was a report of a federal corruption probe of former Mayor Michael R. White, which was leaked to the press by an attorney on the case. The second withheld story has yet to be revealed.[32]

Music critic sideliningEdit

On September 17, 2008, Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer's music critic of 16 years, was told by the paper's editor, Susan Goldberg, that he would no longer be covering performances of the Cleveland Orchestra. Rosenberg had criticized its 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 on the orchestra's board.[33]

Welser-Möst had been strongly criticized during his earlier tenure at the London Philharmonic Orchestra, when London critics gave him the nickname "Frankly Worse than Most".[34] In December 2008, Rosenberg sued Cleveland's Musical Arts Association, the newspaper and several members of their staffs, alleging a conspiracy to have him demoted.[35] Rosenberg dropped a number of claims against the paper in 2009.[36] In August 2009, a jury rejected the remaining claims.[37]

Shirley Strickland SaffoldEdit

In March 2010, the Plain Dealer reported that approximately 80 comments had been posted to articles on its web site by an account registered to the email address of Shirley Strickland Saffold, a judge sitting on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.[38] Several of the comments, posted under the pseudonym lawmiss, discussed matters that were or had been before the judge.[38] Although the judge's 23-year-old daughter Sydney Saffold took responsibility for the postings, the paper was able to use a public records request and determine that the exact times and dates of some of the postings corresponded to the times that the corresponding articles were being viewed on the judge's court-issued computer.[38] The revelation led one attorney, who had been criticized in the postings, to request the judge recuse herself from a homicide trial in which he represented the defendant.[39] Ohio Supreme Court Acting Chief Justice Paul E. Pfeifer subsequently removed Saffold from the case.[40]

In April, the judge sued the paper, its editor Susan Goldberg, and affiliated companies for $50 million, claiming violation of its privacy policy.[39] In December 2010, Saffold dropped the suit against the newspaper, and reached settlement with Advance Internet, the Plain Dealer affiliate that ran the newspaper's website.[41] The terms of the settlement were undisclosed, but included a charitable contribution in the name of Saffold's mother.[41]

Removal of debate videoEdit

In October 2014, the Northeast Ohio Media Group hosted the three Ohio candidates for governor in what would be their only joint appearance. The debate was held before the NEOMG's editorial board (which also serves as the editorial board of The Plain Dealer) and NEOMG reporters. Incumbent Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, largely ignored his main rival, Democrat Ed FitzGerald. Kasich refused to admit he could hear the questions of FitzGerald, who was sitting next to him, and insisted that a reporter repeat them.[42]

During the debate, a video camera was positioned eight feet in front of the candidates. The resulting video was posted on A few days later, however, it was removed.[43] When other sites posted copies of the now-deleted video, the NEOMG sent letters threatening legal action. TechDirt reported that the owner of the Cleveland Plain Dealer had demanded that the unflattering video be taken down.[44] The NEOMG's actions were covered by other media organizations[45][46] and it was criticized by media observers. Chris Quinn, the NEOMG vice president who sent the letters, declined all requests for comment.[47][48]

At 7 a.m. on the day after the election, which Kasich—endorsed by the NEOMG—won easily, the news organization posted online an explanation of events written by its reader representative. The column cited this as Quinn's explanation:

Shortly after the video was posted, the Kasich campaign contacted him and said it had not been aware a video would be posted online. Quinn eventually decided that his failure to explicitly explain the presence of a video camera was unfair. Further, "I thought that if I stated my reasons, the obvious next step would be people going to the candidates and asking them if they had any objection to putting the video back up," Quinn is quoted as saying. "That would mean my error could put people into an uncomfortable situation."[49]

The explanation left at least some critics unsatisfied.[50][51]


The Plain Dealer is the major news contributor to, the regional news, event and communication portal run by Advance Digital via Northeast Ohio Media Group. The paper does not operate its own editorial website. Northeast Ohio Media Group runs a separate website for the business side of the newspaper, including advertising. also features news from 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 quality of the site (as well as other Advance Internet sites) has been criticized by the staff, newsroom staff and locals.[52]

Politifact OhioEdit

In July 2010, The Plain Dealer launched PolitiFact Ohio,[53] a website that analyzes political issues relevant to Ohio and the greater Cleveland area. It also conducted fact-checking and was produced in conjunction with its creator, the Tampa Bay Times. Four years later, the relationship was ended. Although the operation had generated criticism, the decision to drop it was attributed instead to a desire to keep all content on rather than the separate PolitiFact Ohio site, which remains available as an archive.[54]


  1. ^ "The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH)". Ohio News Media Association. Ohio News Media Association. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  2. ^ Top 25 U.S. Newspapers for March 2013 Archived June 11, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b The Plain Dealer |Northeast Ohio Media Group Archived September 11, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Cleveland DMA -Northeast Ohio Media Group". Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  5. ^ Dealer, Plain (April 4, 2013). "Northeast Ohio Media Group to launch in summer: Press Release". Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  6. ^ Columbia Journalism Review (2005). [1] Who Owns What. Retrieved June 5, 2006.
  7. ^ Cleveland: Confused City on a See-saw (Electronic Edition). [2] Philip W. Porter, 1976. Pages 234–235.
  8. ^ Cleveland: Confused City on a See-saw (Electronic Edition). [3] Philip W. Porter, 1976. Page 10.
  9. ^ "The Plain Dealer kills off Sunday Magazine", Editor and Publisher, December 2005.
  10. ^ Robert L. Smith (December 11, 2012). "Newspaper Guild endorses labor agreement with The Plain Dealer". Archived from the original on January 15, 2013.
  11. ^ Robert L. Smith (July 31, 2013). "The Plain Dealer executes newsroom layoffs as era of daily delivery nears end".
  12. ^ "Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards: 2006 Winners and Finalists". University of Missouri. Retrieved December 25, 2018.
  13. ^ The Pulitzer Prizes (2005) [4]. Retrieved June 5, 2006.
  14. ^ "It's Time To Do What Feels Right", Connie Schultz, February 16, 2006. [5] Archived May 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved June 5, 2006.
  15. ^ E&P Staff. "Connie Schultz Devotes First Post-Sabbatical Column to Her Father – Editor & Publisher". Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  16. ^ Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz resigns from The Plain Dealer
  17. ^ "Plain Dealer photo staff named best in Ohio 11th straight year". Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  18. ^ Ewinger, James. "The Plain Dealer's Gus Chan named Ohio news photographer of the year; staff named best in state". Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  19. ^ "PD AP awards" (PDF). Retrieved April 30, 2014.
  20. ^ "PD AP awards" (PDF). Associated Press. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
  21. ^ "PD AP awards" (PDF). Associated Press. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
  22. ^ "Associated Press State Contests". Associated Press. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  23. ^ Dealer, Plain (May 22, 2013). "Dear Readers: Information about The Plain Dealer's delivery schedule". Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  24. ^ a b "Dear Readers: Information about The Plain Dealer's delivery schedule". The Plain Dealer. May 21, 2013. Retrieved May 27, 2013.
  25. ^ "Profile page, Washington bureau chief Stephen Koff". Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  26. ^ "Profile page, Columbus bureau chief Robert Higgs". Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  27. ^ "PD Changes" (PDF). Cleveland Plain Dealer. June 29, 2008. Retrieved July 12, 2008.
  28. ^ "The power of a publisher", Salon, 27 October 2004.
  29. ^ "Home". CoolCleveland. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  30. ^ "Ohio for Concealed Carry". Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  31. ^ "WHO HAS YOUR BACK? Journalism in the Corporate Age", Columbia Journalism Review, September 2005.
  32. ^ "Keeping reporters' notes out of court", The American Editor, August 2005 – October 2005, FREEDOM OF INFORMATION. Pam Luecke, Author.
  33. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (September 25, 2008). "Music Critic vs. Maestro: One Loses His Beat". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2008.
  34. ^ Lebrecht, Norman (February 12, 2004). "Franz Welser-Möst – The conductor they loved to hate". La Scena Musicale. Retrieved September 4, 2007.
  35. ^ "Cleveland Orchestra Scandal: Update", The New Yorker blog, December 12, 2008
  36. ^ "Plain Dealer reporter drops all but one claim against paper". The Plain Dealer. January 28, 2009. Retrieved May 17, 2010.
  37. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (August 6, 2010). "Cleveland Critic Loses in Suit Over Job Change". New York Times. Retrieved December 20, 2010.
  38. ^ a b c McCarty, James F. (March 27, 2010). "Anonymous online comments are linked to the personal e-mail account of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
  39. ^ a b Atassi, Leila (April 8, 2010). "Cuyahoga County Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold files $50 million lawsuit against The Plain Dealer and others". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
  40. ^ Farkas, Karen (April 22, 2010). "Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold is removed from the Anthony Sowell murder trial". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
  41. ^ a b "Saffolds dismiss lawsuit against Plain Dealer, settle with Advance Internet". The Plain Dealer. December 31, 2010. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
  42. ^ Gomez, Henry. "Gov. John Kasich ignores Ed FitzGerald in their only meeting of election season: 5 observations". Northeast Ohio Media Group. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  43. ^ Mismas, Joseph. "PD Pulls Video Of Kasich Refusing To Answer Editorial Board Questions". Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  44. ^ Cushing, Tim. "Cleveland Plain Dealer Owner Demands Takedown Of Unflattering Video Featuring Candidate It Endorsed In Governor's Race". Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  45. ^ Jackson, Tom. "PD silent on debate video". Sandusky Register. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  46. ^ Castele, Nick. "The Only Video of Kasich and FitzGerald Debating Isn't Online Anymore. What Happened?". Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  47. ^ Rosen, Jay. "Chris Quinn, vice president for content at the Northeast Ohio Media Group… What's up?". Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  48. ^ Marx, Greg. "News executives need to explain why video of an Ohio campaign interview disappeared". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  49. ^ Diadiun, Ted. "Here's why Chris Quinn took down the interview video of John Kasich, Ed FitzGerald and Anita Rios: Ted Diadiun". Northeast Ohio Media Group. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  50. ^ Zimon, Jill Miller. "NEOMG Finally Publishes Its Explanation, Apology For Chris Quinn's Video Removal Decision". Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  51. ^ Allard, Sam. "Finally, Poorly, the NEOMG Explains the Kasich Video Debacle and Chris Quinn's "Error in Judgement"". Cleveland Scene. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  52. ^ "The New Dealer", Cleveland Magazine, January 2006
  53. ^ "Fact-checking Ohio politics - PolitiFact Ohio". PolitiFactOhio. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  54. ^ "The Plain Dealer drops PolitiFact, but keeps on factchecking". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved November 7, 2014.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit