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The Plain Dealer Dissolving News Guild, Laying Off Remaining Staff

The Plain Dealer is dissolving its news guild and will publish coverage exclusively from cleveland.com.

The paper announced the changes Tuesday in a cleveland.com column from Editor-in-Chief Tim Warsinskey. The four remaining journalists at The Plain Dealer have been offered jobs at cleveland.com to continue their work, according to Warsinskey.

“Our ethos at The Plain Dealer during my four years as managing editor and a brief tenure as editor has been to focus on journalism that makes Northeast Ohio a better place for us to live, and help readers discover and celebrate better ways to live in it,” Warsinskey wrote.

Warsinskey was named editor of the 178-year-old newspaper in February, after George Rodrigue accepted a position with paper’s sister company, Advance Local, which also operates cleveland.com Warsinskey will now transition to the role of Senior Editor of Special Projects for Advance Local, effective June 1.

The PD News Guild will be dissolved as of May 17, according to a statement from the union published on social media, after representing Plain Dealer staff for 80 years.

“The Guild hoped the company would see the value of the work our members provided and the deep connections and trust we built in the community as a way to strengthen journalism in Greater Cleveland,” the statement said. “Instead, it chose to systematically squeeze the Guild out of existence. It was excruciating for those laid off over the past year and our members who remained to be kept in limbo.”

Thirty-two reporters and editors were laid off in April in two rounds of staffing cuts. The second round came after Warsinskey announced most of the remaining, seasoned reporters would no longer be covering Cleveland or Cuyahoga County, instead shifting to outlying areas.

“Twenty years ago, The Plain Dealer had more than 340 journalists. In its heyday, it had even more. Today, it has four,” the Guild wrote. “Advance and The Plain Dealer have slashed the newsroom while creating a separate nonunion newsroom, clevelanddotcom.”

The Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild will continue representing journalists working at other publications in the region, including the Akron Beacon Journal and Canton Repository. But that guild did agree not to participate in any efforts to organize the cleveland.com newsroom for the next year, according to the PD News Guild.

The cleveland.com newsroom has 64 journalists and content producers, Warsinskey said, who will provide content for the Plain Dealer’s printed issues. The paper will continue its current print publication schedule, he said.

“Before anyone starts pounding nails in coffins, as some of my more sensationalist brethren and harsh critics are wont to do, take a breath,” Warsinskey said. “This is not the end of The Plain Dealer. Far from it.”

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