Reporters and editors at the Plain Dealer, Ohio's largest newspaper, are relocating from the Skylight Office Tower in downtown Cleveland to the paper's production facility on Tiedeman Road in Brooklyn.
"It's cheaper for us to work out of space we own than out of rented space," said editor George Rodrigue in an email to Scene.
While Rodrigue said he was reluctant to discuss financial terms until new agreements are in place, the Skylight lease is presumed to be nearly up. And with many of the paper's reporters working remotely, some staffers suggested that renting the office space adjacent to Tower City was no longer seen as essential.
The Plain Dealer has been located downtown for its full history. In 2000, the staff of nearly 350 relocated to the new $38 million headquarters at 1801 Superior Avenue. In 2014, a diminished print staff decamped to Skylight, when Cleveland.com (then operating as the Northeast Ohio Media Group) moved from temporary offices in the Flats to 1801.
"Personally, I'm sad to be moving out of downtown, but it's a logical move for the paper," said Ginger Christ, a PD health reporter and representative of News Guild Local 1. "It will definitely benefit us to have the entire PD staff under one roof, so we can better collaborate and create a stronger daily newspaper."
Christ said the move was preceded by other similar moves at papers across the country. The L.A. Times, for example, recently moved out of downtown. And the Chicago Tribune, while remaining downtown, left the office building
that bore its name this summer.
"It's no secret that it's a tough environment for journalism to succeed across the country," Christ said. "I think that while the staff values a downtown newsroom, it makes sense to move us to Tiedeman because there is space, and we've been a fragmented staff for too long. And I'm happy we will still be in Cuyahoga County."
Rodrigue confirmed that there is ample space at the Tiedeman facility to accommodate reporters and editors alongside the copy editors, layout folks and production personnel who currently work there.
"We cover a wide range of topics across Northeast Ohio, as well as Cleveland," Rodrigue said, " and I believe we can work as well from our new space as from our current location."
Wendy McManamon, Guild president, told Scene that the Skylight Office Tower actually wasn't an ideal location, especially given the inconvenient parking situation. But the bigger question for the 42 guild members (plus six managers) who will be affected by the new move is: why were they kicked out of 1801 Superior in the first place?
The effect, per McManamon was to "[split] us up and [make] collaboration between copy editors and reporters, photographers and designers, so convoluted."
While McManamon said "no journalism happens in the newsroom" — a familiar adage illustrating that reporters do their most important news gathering out in the field — it'll be sad to leave downtown offices nonetheless.
On the other hand, she said, "I'm looking forward to seeing my colleagues again, for the sake of journalism and camaraderie. At least until the next shoe drops!"