Former Plain Dealer Journalist: “The tech giants are destroying local journalism in America.”

Twenty years ago, the Cleveland Plain Dealer had more than 300 journalists and editors. Now it’s down to 77 editorial staff across print and digital after yesterday’s announcement that it would cut 22 more journalists from its newsroom (the combined Plain Dealer and has 77 journalists between the sister publications). The reason? According to the paper, “loss in revenue to overcome deep losses in subscriptions and advertising.”

The revenue that used to support legacy media and local news is now going to tech giants instead. While its advertising revenue has skyrocketed, Google has eroded news publishers’ two sources of revenue: subscriptions and advertising. It changed its Incognito mode to make it easier for readers to evade subscription limits on free content. And it’s phasing out third-party cookies, which its own study concluded would reduce ad revenue for news publishers by an average of 62%. Google didn’t set out to destroy the journalism industry, but that is exactly what is happening.

The following is a statement from Nick Charles, spokesperson for the Save Journalism Project and former journalist at the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

“Winston Churchill reportedly called
The Plain Dealer the best moniker in the world for a newspaper; an organ of plain and honest reporting and “an advocate of truth.” That truth telling took another devastating blow yesterday as news of more layoffs at The Plain Dealer was announced. Over the years those let go were my colleagues, friends, and comrades in the ongoing effort all journalists are convinced of; to bring  information and context to our fellow citizens.

The business model for these newspapers is being decimated by the dominance of big tech, particularly Google. Northeast Ohio already lost the
Youngstown Vindicator last year. The gutting of the Plain Dealer only exacerbates the local news crisis in these communities.

Not only will this impact the individual lives and families of those laid off, the extent of these bone-deep cuts are depredation for towns and cities across the nation. Newspapers are community institutions, providing critical news and information for residents and also serving an important role in social cohesion. There are already 1,300 communities that have lost local news coverage in the past 15 years, but it doesn’t have to get worse before it gets better.”
editorial staff across print and digital will be 77 after the cuts