Open Letter to Chris Quinn
Updated: Jul 2
I went to cleveland.com and clicked on the story "I've Never Seen Patients This Sick in My Life."
So apparently cleveland.com makes money using Pop-Up Ads. Not surprising. I went to the corner and hit the little red hand and disabled my add blocker.
Ugh. I wasn't paying attention. Apparently I hit Subscription Only content.
And then I kind of felt bad. Maybe I should pay cleveland.com $100 (now $60.) But then I remembered back to my childhood.....
The Plain Dealer would always be sitting on the Living Room table on Sunday mornings. My Grandparents would leave it there for the Family to devour. I always took the Comics first (because I was a kid). My Grandfather would always take the Business section and disappear. Once I finished the comics, I had to fold it back up and then circled back around for the Sports Section.
Let's dissect that Sunday newspaper from the 80's.
News Section (1): Instead of the 20-30 National or International News stories in the opening section of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, cleveland.com has 3-5. They outsourced most non-local News to CNN or FoxNews websites, depending on your personal preference. If there's a particularly hot topic for the day, cleveland.com will post the link to CNN or FoxNews right on their Facebook page.
News Section (2): Instead of multiple letters-to-the editor, multiple editorial cartoons, and multiple voices, cleveland.com rarely posts letters-to-the-editor, and when they do, they are limited to 200 words or less, despite having the CAPABILITY to actually give more separate voices a platform. Why don't they? They would have to pay someone to read and edit those voices. That costs money when they could just outsource that part of their business model to Facebook or Twitter.
Metro Section: The Metro section used to have all of the local news from the city level to the county level. Now when I go to cleveland.com, it sometimes has my city's local news. The website sometimes guesses right, sometime it gives me randomly chosen suburbs. I mean, the Metro section basically writes itself, 90% of their stories are a derivative of these 3 Headlines:
Local Motel: Overdose
Bad Part of Town: DUI
Other Bad Part of Town: Domestic Dispute
(Oh, that bad stuff happens in the good parts of town also, but somehow that doesn't usually make the local paper.)
Sports Local: I would argue that the coverage of local pro teams, the Cavs, Indians, and Browns is comparable to the coverage a generation ago. Local College and High Schools sports coverage
is also consistently well done. Amateur local sports league scores have disappeared.
There are no standings at cleveland.com.
You want national sports?
Go to NHL.com
Go to NBA.com
Go to NFL.com
Go to MLB.com
Go to PremierLeague.com
Go to MASLSoccer.com
Go to BigTen.org
Go to SECSports.com
Go to NASCAR,com
Go to ESPN.com
You get the idea......
My Grandfather took pages and pages of stock prices and wrote all over the newspaper. Don't ask me, ask one of your day-trader friends: Do you use cleveland.com to help you with your stock decisions?
No day traders anywhere uses their local news sites.
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Classifieds? If you want to buy/sell something are you going to Ebay, Amazon, or Facebook MarketPlace? Or are you going to the cleveland.com Classifieds that remind you of an abandoned mall?
Just 15 years ago, Roger Brown wrote columns every week talking about radio figures and sports talk figures. Love Brown or hate him, (he apparently works for the Sarasota Herald Tribune now), I don't think cleveland.com even acknowledges that radios exist anymore.
If I want to watch a movie, I don't look at the newspaper, I google the movie and the closest location. Maybe I'll go to Fandango if I want to see movie times and buy tickets in one fell swoop.
Today? There are one or two writers that do a nice job covering culture/cuisine, but half of the cleveland.com Life section is Celebrity Birthdays and Dear Annie. Not Abigail Van Buren or Ann Landers, mind you, but annoying Millennial Annie Lane. I've read Mommy Bloggers with more insight than Lane. Arts/Entertainment/Living were 3 SECTIONS in the Sunday paper, now it's usually 3-5 articles. You're a local band wanting coverage? Ha, cleveland.com never had room for that. Try the struggling Cleveland Scene before THAT paper/website goes out of business, too.
Unless you count Jeff Darcy's editorial cartooning, there are no cartoons at cleveland.com. Where can you find MOST of your favorite comic strips?
My Grandmother's favorite comic strip was Broom Hilda. Not familiar with Broom Hilda? Few under the age of 60 are. Created by now 82 year old Russell Myers, Myers is still churning out Broom Hilda Strips....
....but the Plain Dealer stopped running the strip years ago. Their argument was that they only had so much ink. Why am I prattling on about Broom Hilda? I don't think newspapers realized that the Comics section is what introduced kids to newspapers.
What introduces kids to cleveland.com today? Seriously, I don't know the answer.
You ever notice there's a link with lottery numbers every single day at cleveland.com?
There's a reason for that. I once tried to check my lottery numbers at work and my laptop administrator had ohiolottery.com blocked because it's a gambling website. Good job cleveland.com, making sure that those with shitty jobs can still check up on lottery results.
Can I comment on stories that I feel are slanted? Can't do that either. The comments section at the end of the articles has been eliminated and outsourced to Facebook. Then cleveland.com doesn't have to share their own slanted stories to their own Facebook or Twitter page if they think they're going to get negative feedback. If you, the reader, share a story, whether you like it or not, on your Facebook or Twitter page, which you have the capability to do, you are now the marketing department for cleveland.com at the low, low salary of $0.00.
My Mom used to say that if we were smart shoppers, the newspaper would pay for itself in savings if you used the coupons contained within. Are there any mechanisms where you could get your $100 (now $60) back by using cleveland.com? Not that I'm aware of.
The website outsourced 90% of their content from the 1980's.
What exactly did they keep? Chris Quinn is asking for $100 (now $60) a year to pay his salary and the salary of the Editorial Board to push a certain narrative by reporting on limited news stories from certain angles. He is asking you to pay for the best coverage of the Indians, Browns, Cavs, and Buckeyes in the area. And he is asking you to pay in order to get lottery results at work.
And that's basically it. A generation ago, you got your news from the local paper and the local news stations. When I was a young adult, I knew very few people who weren't engaged with either. Now the majority of the people I speak to don't watch the local news (they cut the cord) and don't read newspapers/local websites. They get their news on a national platform, APP, or social media.
The Plain Dealer used aggressive union breaking techniques to ensure the existence of the newspaper and website, but at what cost? What's left is a bunch of partisan hacks and sportswriters. A decimated industry trying to guilt you into subscribing based on your memories of the past.
Editor's Note: We stole this meme from one of the Libertarian Websites that we follow.
Let's have some fun. Let's pretend that I became the wokest Motherf%#@er you ever met. I became non-binary and every institution ever conceived before 2014 now offends me. As I change my name from the colonialist name of Fred Hunt to Lark 3 Freedom, I notice this article in the Atlantic:
You know the first thing Lark 3 Freedom is going to do? Protest at the Plain Dealer. Every single day. So when the topic of Institutional Racism comes up, it's funny that the Liberals on the Editorial Board want you to fight their perception of governmental Institutional Racism, but not their brand of Institutional Racism.
So you think I'm just a sour jerk? (Oh, I am, but please read on.)
Apparently I'm not the only one down on cleveland.com. The Press Club, in CLEVELAND, gave out its 2021 All Ohio Excellence in Journalism Awards.
Best Newspaper Award (Large Circulation): The Cincinnati Enquirer
Best Website: Cincinnati.com
The subscription price for Cincinnati.com? $2
$2 for more content, better presentation, and multi-angled coverage. I saw the Case for Juneteenth and the Case against Juneteenth in their Opinion Section. I can't remember the last time cleveland.com gave two opposing angles at the same time. You know, multiple perspectives that used to be taught in Journalism School.
Number of Awards for cleveland.com/The Cleveland Plain Dealer? 12
Number of Awards for cincinnati.com/The Cincinnati Enquirer? 30
Now don't get me wrong, I feel about Cincinnati the way Sam Wyche feels about Cleveland....
...but cincinnati.com is clearly the better journalistic website.
Other websites/newspapers that also won more than cleveland.com/The Plain Dealer?
Cleveland Jewish News 20 Awards (Including Best Community Paper)
Crain's Cleveland Business 21 Awards
Elyria Chronicle Telegram 25 Awards (Including Best Small Circulation Paper)
Akron Beacon Journal 30 Awards
According to The Press Club, Chris Quinn has guided his product to the THIRD best entity in Cleveland. A city that's considered a ONE Newspaper town.