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COVID-19 Pandemic Could Alter Cleveland News Publications

a screen capture of the plain dealer front page
The Plain Dealer's print edition is posted digitally on cleveland.com

The coronavirus pandemic could bring changes to the Cleveland media landscape. A recent article in Crain's Cleveland Business speculates the city's print newspaper, The Plain Dealer, could within the next few years be printed only on Sundays. 

More than two dozen reporters and editors at the paper, run by the New York-based Advance Publications Inc., have been laid off in the past few months. 

Advance created the unit Advance Ohio to operate cleveland.com, the digital offshoot of The Plain Dealer. Chris Quinn, the vice president of content for Advance Ohio, says cleveland.com is pursuing new sources of revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic because of uncertainty surrounding the economy. It’s implemented a voluntary subscription option. He says that’s been helpful in offsetting declining advertising. He says they’re also considering putting up a paywall.

"If we could show tomorrow that going with a paywall would pay the bills to do what we’re doing, we would do it tomorrow. We’re going to do whatever we have to do to make this work."

Quinn says the newsroom realized early in the shift to digital that advertising could not be their sole source of revenue. Since then, they have found new ways to monetize their content, through podcasts and even a texting service in which reporters text subscribers about news several times a day.

He remains optimistic that cleveland.com will remain at the forefront of innovative journalism.