Ideastream Partnering with All-Star Plain Dealer Alums to Report on Effects of Covid-19


  • ideastream
Ideastream announced Wednesday that it has partnered with recent Plain Dealer alums Rachel Dissell, Melodie Smith and Brie Zeltner on a reporting project aimed at chronicling the effects of Covid-19 in the region.

Funded by grant dollars from Third Federal Foundation and University settlement, the ongoing series, entitled "Coping With COVID-19" takes aim at how the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated social inequities.

The reporting began in June and will continue to produce "people-centered" stories that humanize the polices of the Covid-19 era and their effects on Northeast Ohio communities. The stories will first be published on ideastream's website, but will be offered up to community media partners in an explicit effort to fill information gaps.

Community news outlets participating in the partnership include the Ward 7 Observer, The Cleveland Street Chronicle, The Neighborhood News, The Collinwood Observer, East Side Daily News, Euclid Observer, Heights Observer, The Tremonster, West Park Times, Plain Press, Erie Chinese Journal, Profile News and The Buckeye Flame.

“All of us at ideastream are ecstatic to have the chance to work with Rachel, Melodie and Brie," said ideastream's Executive Editor Mike McIntyre, in a statement provided to the media. (McIntyre was also among the wave of Plain Dealer News Guild journalists laid off in Advance's recent fatal culling.) "They are incredible local talents whose investigative reporting continues to spark meaningful change and elevate voices within underserved communities. Through this collaboration, we are pairing the expertise of local journalists with a wide network of community media outlets in order to expand our service to Northeast Ohioans.”

Among other achievements, Dissell and Zeltner reported the Toxic Neglect series for the PD in 2015, which opened the region's eyes to the severity of the lead paint crisis.

Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.