Plain Dealer to Layoff One-Third of Staff in 2013

In a note posted to Facebook, members of the Newspaper Guild say that the Cleveland Plain Dealer has told them that it plans to eliminate about one-third of its staff in 2013. These changes would go into effect after the latest contract, which prohibits any layoffs, expires on January 31, 2013.

The note posted to the social networking site read:

Friends and supporters, we wanted to let you know that The Plain Dealer has told the Guild it plans to reduce the number of Guild members in the newsroom to 110 next year. Guild members are the heart of the paper. They report, photograph, copyedit, design, draw, create graphics, archive information, edit and so much more. The reductions, which represent about 1/3 of our membership, would be devastating to the news-gathering operation. The paper said most of the reduction would be through layoffs, though some employees will be offered jobs at cleveland.com. They will not say how many or what those jobs would be. The Plain Dealer is pressing for the ability to handpick who stays and who goes.

The company also wants to reduce the newsroom by at least 20 more positions in the following years. Makes us wonder how that equals the quality of journalism Plain Dealer leaders have been publicly promising.

Last month, staff at the Plain Dealer kicked off a multimedia "Save the Plain Dealer" campaign with bus ads, billboards, print ads and more. Journalists knew that layoffs were in the future, but didn't know just how many.

Advance Publications, which owns the Plain Dealer, has reduced staffing and print schedules at many of the newspapers that it owns across the U.S., including The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pa.), its papers in Alabama and Michigan, and most notably, the New Orleans Times-Picayune.