‘Plain Dealer’ Cuts 32 Pages Per Week, Drops Four Sections

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By: Joe Strupp

After weeks of speculation about pages being reduced and sections eliminated, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland is cutting an average of 32 pages per week, according to Managing Editor Debra Adams Simmons. She told E&P that the changes will include the elimination of four regular weekly stand-alone sections, including Monday business.

“It plays out differently on different days of the week,” Simmons said Monday, a day after the paper revealed the changes to readers in a two-page guide. “We are looking at fewer pages per week.”

In addition, the paper will reduce its two-page daily opinion spread of columns and editorials down to one page. But the Sunday opinion pages will be increased by two pages, Simmons said.

“It will result in either shorter editorials or fewer choices on those pages,” Simmons said.

Publisher Terry Egger could not be reached for comment on Monday. Editor Susan Goldberg is out this week.

Simmons stressed that none of the page reductions would occur in the main national, international or metro news pages. She said the paper could still provide the news it must, but “perhaps with shorter stories, and sharper editing will be increasingly important.”

While Page One will not be affected by the changes, Simmons said, the paper’s A-2 will see a different look, with a daily column or feature item along the right side, as well as briefs, quicker reads and refers to the Web site. “A quick breakdown of today’s most interesting news,” Simmons said describing that page.

Elsewhere in the paper, however, cuts will abound. The Monday separate business section will be eliminated, with its content placed elsewhere in the paper. Simmons said that section differed in size each week, but ran eight pages today.

On Wednesday, a stand-alone style section and stand-alone food section will be combined into one section, while Thursday’s paper will see the consolidation of two stand-alone sections on arts & life and food & garden.

Friday’s arts & life section will be cut, with its content relocated into the Friday magazine or other sections, Simmons said.

The daily financial report will be expanded, she said, with reorganized stock listings that actually provide more stock prices. The paper is also creating a page-and-a-half wide spadia that will include comics, horoscopes, television listings and other features wrapped around the classified section.

The changes, set to begin on Tuesday, have been rumored for weeks. Egger has told staff in recent meetings that changes would occur, but declined to specify any cutbacks in space or jobs. Simmons said no job cuts have been announced or planned as of yet.

“The Plain Dealer has always been a fairly robust newspaper in terms of space,” she said about the effect of the page cuts. “We still have a good amount of space to do our work.”

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