You couldn’t be blamed for not knowing the reporters and editors at cleveland.com. They don’t build cult followings on social media with nonstop messages about their crusading roles. They believe that journalism is about what others do and don’t use social media to call attention to themselves.Quinn’s column was met with immediate derision, with accomplished veteran journalists like L.A. Times City Editor Hector Berrerra calling it a “dumpster fire,” and Tampa Bay Times reporter Mark Puente citing the piece as an example of “delirious newsroom leader[ship],” while pointing out that Quinn was once a “hard-nosed reporter and editor,” and wondering, “what happened?”
The people I work with just keep their heads down and produce the stories, photos, audio and video that you so clearly value — you engage with it in huge numbers.
I find so much dignity in my cleveland.com colleagues. They do the work. Diligently. Accurately. With quiet determination. Without bias.
There’s a danger in your not getting to know them, though. Some people with dubious motives – people who appear to be unafflicted by truth — would have you believe that journalism is dying in Cleveland. That’s false, of course, as any objective review of cleveland.com’s coronavirus coverage would prove. Journalism thrives in Cleveland in the form of our 60-plus reporters and editors.
No disrespect to the reporters mentioned in this column, but Chris Quinn is delirious as a newsroom leader in Cleveland. What a terrible way to introduce staffers. Quinn was a hard-nosed reporter and editor. What happened? https://t.co/BLXfAZxyd6— Mark Puente (@MarkPuente) April 11, 2020
Peter,My reply, for the sake of transparency, is below as well.
Thanks for flagging your piece.
What continues to surprise me in all that has been written about Cleveland is the lack of an objective review of the current state, an honest comparison of Cleveland to other cities. The watchdog work done by the cleveland.com newsroom — on the courts, jail, police, lately the health board and so many other topics — is immeasurable. The reporters here ask so many hard questions that people have come to take it for granted.
The simple fact is that the journalists in the cleveland.com newsroom have produced the huge majority of content in this city, gathered the huge majority of the audience and brought about the huge majority of positive change. It's all there for anyone who wants to take the time to look at it.
The loss of journalism positions in this country and Cleveland has been awful, obviously It's been a challenge we've been dealing with for at least 15 years. But in Cleveland, we made the move nearly seven years ago to aim for sustainable journalism in a changing age. But what we've done is ignored in pieces like yours. It's so much easier to talk solely about how big The Plain Dealer once was compared to now. To make cursory references to the digital arm.
We have 60-plus people doing great work in the cleveland.com newsroom. Not the "kids" that our critics use to dismiss them, but veteran reporters. By today's standards, that is a decent-sized staff for a city the size of Cleveland. I wish it were bigger. Much bigger. But for the journalism economy of 2020, it's what we have, and despite your protestations, they are the people who have been bringing you almost everything you know about what is happening in Cleveland.
Suggesting, as you do, that they are not aggressive is insulting to them, as the record proves that false.
So, we'll continue doing what we are doing, and engaging with the millions of people who come to our site every week, while you continue to try convince people of your fiction — that the latest developments have killed journalism in the region. Just know that you a disservice to the people of Northeast Ohio by doing so.
Thanks for the response, Chris. I don't think anyone is denying that some good and even great journalism is done by your reporters. The question, rather, is how could it possibly be enough? For more than a century after slavery was outlawed, U.S. politics and policy were more or less grounded in the understanding that corporate power needed to be restrained for citizens to retain basic rights. That's largely been tossed out the window since the 1980s. At the same time, unsurprisingly, inequality has spiked to levels not seen since the 1930s and social mobility in the U.S. has decreased correspondingly. These problems, as you know, are especially stark in the City of Cleveland. Which makes it all the more concerning that the City's only daily news outlet has gone from 350 union-backed journalists to 63 non-union reporters over the last 15 years. It also underscores the need for those remaining reporters to focus on the causes of our problems, not their symptoms, which we've seen far too little of from Cleveland.com and mass-media outlets nationwide.
This is basic stuff and I know you understand it. I also know there are no easy solutions here. But it's surely within the power of a family like the Newhouses, if not their responsibility, to demonstrate some leadership in recognizing that for-profit journalism has become an anachronism and finding a way forward from here. In fact it's hard to see how the Newhouse name becomes anything but mud in the history books if they don't.
As for your own influence and how far it might go in this regard, I won't venture to guess other than what I already suggested in my initial email.
Thanks again and best wishes,
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