Friday, September 13, 2013 at 7:26 PM
Two top editors at The Plain Dealer and its new sister digital company, the Northeast Ohio Media Group, sat down at the City Club of Cleveland to explain -- and defend -- the changes happening at the paper. ideastream's Nick Castele reports.
To some, the changes at The Plain Dealer sound dire: No home delivery three days a week and one-third of the newsroom staff laid off this year—although NEOMG VP of content Chris Quinn said that along with cuts at the paper, there have been many other hires at the media group.
Quinn and Thom Fladung, the paper’s managing editor, tried to assure the City Club’s audience that their news outlet is just evolving.
Here’s Quinn’s response to an audience member who questioned whether the paper’s parent company, Advance, was truly trying to support good journalism.
“What they’re trying to do is to preserve journalism in this town and make it financially viable,” he said. “It’s not. If we do nothing, it will not last. It will go away, and you won’t have any kind of big journalistic institution to do the watchdogging.”
In part, that means drawing a big enough audience online to make money off of web ads. Reporters now post articles on Cleveland.com early and often, updating stories throughout the day.
But that doesn’t mean the news outlet will forsake hard news on a quest for clicks, says Fladung.
“I don’t like to call it ‘clicks.’ I don’t like to call it ‘traffic,’ I like to call it ‘readers,’” he said. “So we track very closely how many people are reading us.”
Fladung says those readers will still get important news stories.
During the question-and-answer session, one man complained that he had difficulty finding stories on Cleveland.com. Quinn said the staff is working to improve the site.
Newspapers aren’t alone in adapting to change. Today NPR announced it would offer employees voluntary buyouts, in an effort to reduce its staffing by 10 percent.
Those buyouts won’t directly affect staffing at local member stations like WCPN—but they’re another sign that the entire news industry is still grappling with how to stay financially viable and deliver high quality reporting.
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