Full text of “The Plain Dealer One Hundred Years In Cleveland” published in 1942
The Cleveland Plain Dealer will be one hundred years old on January 7, 1942.
It has seemed to the publishers only right and proper to make the birthday an occasion for rendering some public account of their stewardship, as much on behalf of the great and honorable company of gentlemen now gone to their rewards, who labored incessantly in this vineyard, as by way of apologia for those who still carry on. But a larger reason for telling this newspaper story is the fact that the future always depends upon the past, and out of this rich past we take hope for a still worthier future.
The Plain Dealer has been singularly fortunate in having had on its staff an able, modest, and scholarly associate editor, Archer H. Shaw, for thirty-odd years its chief editorial writer, who set himself long ago to make a study of the paper’s history. For many years he envisioned as the crowning labor of his life the compilation of this narrative, which he has now completed.
If the reader detects in the book any trace of partisanship in favor of the Plain Dealer, it grows out of the author’s great love and fierce jealousy for the good name of the institution which has been his life.
George Anthony Moore
GEORGE A. MOORE, TV PIONEER, DIES AT 83 Obit Plain Dealer 3/1/1997
George Anthony Moore was a trailblazer who broke down racial barriers in education and journalism and helped create the new medium of live television.
Moore was recruited in 1947 to work as a producer for WEWS Channel 5 when it became the state’s first television station to go on the air. He was responsible for the “One O’Clock Club,” a variety show on which Dorothy Fuldheim interviewed celebrities such as Helen Keller, the Duke of Windsor and ac trss Gloria Swanson.
Moore was the first president of the Catholic Interracial Council of Cleveland and received the highest award of the National Catholic Conference on Interracial Justice.
“He was a man of deep faith who was interested in bringing people together as sisters and brothers in a lasting godly way. It was his life’s work,” said Sister Juanita Shealey, current head of the Interracial Council.
Moore was also a newspaper reporter, a college teacher and owner of a public relations firm.
Moore was most recently a resident of the Margaret Wagner nursing home in Cleveland Heights. He died yesterday at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. He was 83.
He was born in old Lakeside Hospital in downtown Cleveland. When his mother attempted to enroll him in St. Ignatius High School, she was told that no Jesuit school in the country admitted black students. He was allowed in after the bishop of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese intervened.
Moore attended Ohio State University, where he roomed with Olympic hero Jesse Owens, then earned a master’s degree in theater at the University of Iowa.
Moore did not participate in athletics because of a severe leg injury he suffered while playing sandlot football as a child. He walked with a limp for the rest of his life.
He was hired as a reporter in 1942 by Louis Seltzer, editor of the Cleveland Press, at a time when no daily paper outside New York City was known to have blacks on its staff.
Moore wrote an expose of supermarkets that sold spoiled meat in inner-city neighborhoods. He was hospitalized for treatment of his leg injury after the series started, but he continued writing from his hospital bed.
“I had to go to the hospital each day to pick up his copy,” said Donald L. Perris, who was a copy boy at the Press. Perris later became the station manager at Channel 5 and retired as president of Scripps Howard Broadcasting Co.
“George was the best man at my wedding. He got me my job at the television station,” Perris said.
Moore was hired by Channel 5 because of his combination of news experience and training in theater. He had formed the Ohio State Playmakers, a drama group for minorities, while at OSU.
The “One O’Clock Club” became one of the most popular shows on local television during the 11 years Moore produced the show.
Moore deftly handled the world figures and performers who appeared, many of whom had fragile egos.
“He told them where to sit, when to speak and when to be quiet,” Perris said.
Moore was also involved in numerous civic affairs. He was an associate director of the northern Ohio region of the National Conference of Christians and Jews when he made his first trip to Africa in 1966.
Along the way he stopped at the Vatican and met with Pope Paul VI, whom he invited to Cleveland.
In Africa, Moore was given a cannon salute in the village of a former John Carroll University student who had stayed at Moore’s Cleveland Heights home. Moore was the founder of Friends of African Students in America.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Moore taught theater classes at Cuyahoga Community College.
Moore also wrote a regular column for the Cleveland Press for many years and appeared as a regular panelist on the “Black on Black” interview show on Channel 5.
He organized George A. Moore & Co., a public relations firm with offices downtown, in 1970.
As he grew older, he became less involved in public affairs. But he was in the news in 1994 when he lost his home in Cleveland Heights because he no longer had the funds to take care of it. He had rejected efforts by friends to help him get into a nursing home and insisted on remaining in the house long after his health did not allow him to take care of it.
The publicity generated an outpouring of support. He was subsequently honored by the National Association of Black Journalists, the African American Archives Auxiliary of the Western Reserve Historical Society and other groups.
No immediate family members survive.
Services for Moore are being arranged by the House of Wills Funeral Home of Cleveland.
175 years of telling Cleveland’s story: The Plain Dealer by Joe Frolik 1/9/2017
The link is here
on January 08, 2017 at 5:00 AM, updated January 09, 2017 at 9:42 AM
PLAIN DEALER’S 175TH ANNIVERSARY
- Telling Cleveland’s story for 175 years: The Plain Dealer (slideshow)
- 175 years of telling Cleveland’s story: The Plain Dealer (vintage photos)
- Plain Dealer is celebrating 175 years of covering Cleveland’s news: PD 175th
- Cleveland steel goes from prosperity to struggles to pride again: PD 175th (vintage photos)
- Public Square’s personality conflict has lasted 221 years: PD 175th (vintage photos)
By Joe Frolik, special to the Plain Dealer
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cleveland was just 46 years old, a mere child as great cities go, when The Plain Dealer came into its life. This city and this newspaper have been inseparable ever since.
Cleveland has matured and prospered, slumped and rebounded. It has been a center of innovation, a magnet for immigrants and a poster child for post-industrial decline. It’s given the world John D. Rockefeller, Tom Johnson and the Stokes brothers. A burning river and the best band in the land. Bob Feller, Jim Brown and LeBron James.
For 175 years, The Plain Dealer has told Cleveland’s story. Always on deadline, often imperfectly, the paper has tried to deliver what founder Joseph William Gray promised on Jan. 7, 1842, in the very first issue.
The newspaper, he wrote, would be a lens through which the people of the Western Reserve could see themselves and the rest of the world:
“The Presidential Message was delivered in Washington on Tuesday at 10 o’clock A.M., and was published in this city within three and a quarter days thereafter. The news of the far west is brought to us by steamer at the rate of 15 miles an hour. If WE are not the center of creation, then where is that center?”
Days of old
Gray’s center of creation was home to 6,000 people. The Ohio Canal had recently linked the Ohio River with the Cuyahoga River and the Great Lakes; 10 million pounds a year of wheat, corn, hides and coal flowed through the Port of Cleveland. The first shiploads of Minnesota iron ore would arrive soon.
Iron and coal eventually would make Cleveland an industrial powerhouse and an Arsenal of Democracy. The fortunes created would fund cultural and philanthropic institutions on par with New York or Paris.
But in 1842, pigs still roamed Public Square. Superior Avenue was a sea of mud. There were no street lights, no sewers.
The Plain Dealer that first year was full of stories that would resonate for decades – and sound familiar yet today.
Clevelanders still recovering from the Panic of 1837 worried that banks were unstable and the national debt too large. Factory owners decried unfair foreign competition. The president and Congress barely spoke.
Dispatches from Asia detailed drug abuse in China and the slaughter of a British garrison by Afghan rebels. There was turmoil in the Middle East. A slave rebellion in Jamaica. A deadly earthquake in Haiti. Tension stood between the young Republic of Texas and Mexico.
Armed insurgents demanded voting rights in Rhode Island. A race riot shook Philadelphia. Chicago boomed.
Here, 57 buildings were under construction. A visitor from New Jersey preached the value of public schools. Temperance crusaders destroyed Mr. Robinson’s still in Chagrin Falls. Ohio legislators debated what to do with runaway slaves, and how to deter corruption.
Over the next few years, as immigrants flooded Cleveland and the nation, traditionalists warned that American values were being lost. The Mexican War added California to the Union. The Republican Party was born. Slavery tore at the soul of the country, and a Hudson abolitionist named John Brown took matters into his own hands in Kansas and at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
As America rushed toward Civil War, innovators shaped its future: Edwin Drake struck oil. Elias Howe invented the sewing machine, Samuel Morse the telegraph.
A dispatch in The Plain Dealer on June 5, 1844, credited Morse with “the annihilation of space.” Overnight, Gray’s center of creation was closer to the rest of the world. The presidential message that took three days to reach Cleveland in 1842 could now be wired here in moments. The Information Age had begun.
On April 12, 1861, just hours after the first cannon barrage at Fort Sumter, Page One of The Plain Dealer announced:
“The city of Charleston is now bristling with bayonets, and the harbor blazing with rockets and booming with big guns … What a glorious spectacle this would be, were it to defend our common country from a common enemy. But as it is, a sectional war, people of the same blood, descendants of that race of heroic men who fought at Bunker Hill, now with guns intended for a foreign foe, turned against one another, it becomes a sad and sickening sight.”
For four long years, news from Antietam, Shiloh and Gettysburg filled the paper, just as latest from the Marne, Iwo Jima, Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh and Falujah would in years to come. Devastation became normal.
Far removed from the front, Cleveland’s iron mills and shipyards stoked the Union war effort – and prospered. A young merchant used profits made selling grain and meat to the military to enter the oil business. John D. Rockefeller would soon amass America’s greatest private fortune.
After the Civil War
His success mirrored Cleveland’s and Ohio’s in the years after the war. The city’s population grew to 381,000 by 1900. Millionaires’ Row on Euclid Avenue flourished. Ohio replaced Virginia as a birthplace of presidents and became America’s political bellwether.
The nation’s course was rockier. With Lincoln dead, Reconstruction failed to bring reconciliation to the South or lasting equality to blacks. Panics, currency crises and income inequality birthed a new political ideology: Populism. Skilled craftsmen led by Samuel Gompers formed the American Federation of Labor. When white settlers raced into Oklahoma in 1889, Frederick Jackson Turner proclaimed the end of the frontier.
Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, Thomas Edison the electric light and the motion picture. Clevelander Charles Brush’s arc lights illuminated city streets and ballparks. Orville and Wilbur Wright of Dayton continued Morse’s “annihilation of space,” though the impact of Kitty Hawk was not immediately apparent:
A three-paragraph story headlined “Machine That Flies” was buried on Page 4 of Dec. 18, 1903’s Plain Dealer: “Two Ohio men have a contrivance that navigates the air.” Three days later, an editorial predicted the Wrights’ achievement “will tend to revive interest in aerial navigation.”
The new century brought tragedy, the Titanic sank and an earthquake leveled San Francisco, and hope. Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive agenda inspired Mayor Tom Johnson’s Cleveland reforms. Women got to vote. America launched a “noble experiment” against demon rum; Prohibition instead spawned organized crime.
An assassin killed the heir to the Austrian throne, and soon Europe was in flames. Three years later, President Woodrow Wilson urged America to join what he promised would be a “war to end all wars.” He was wrong.
World War I was followed by the Roaring ’20s, the Great Depression, and a second, even more horrible global war. Improbably, a patrician New Yorker beloved by everyday Americans led the nation out of economic calamity and to the cusp of victory in World War II. Writing from on Inauguration Day 1933, The Plain Dealer’s Paul Hodges noted:
“The determined voice of Franklin Roosevelt cut like a knife through the gray gloom of low-hanging clouds and the bewildered national consciousness as he pledged the American people immediate action and leadership in the nation’s crisis.”
It still took more than a decade and a monstrous war to restore America’s economy and swagger. On June 6, 1944, Plain Dealer reporter Roelif Loveland rode in a Maurauder bomber piloted by First Lt. Howard C. Quiggle of Cleveland and headed for Normandy:
“We saw the curtain go up this morning on the greatest drama in the history of the world, the invasion of Hitler’s Europe.”
Victory over the Axis was followed by four decades of Cold War, hot wars in Korea and Vietnam, and a nuclear showdown over tiny Cuba. Colonial empires collapsed. Israel was born. Germany, Japan, Western Europe and Korea rose from the ashes to become U.S. allies, and economic competitors.
At home, Americans prospered like never before. The GI Bill created a new middle class. We liked Ike and loved Lucy. Ed Sullivan brought Elvis Presley into our living rooms. Motown, a British Invasion and a counterculture followed.
America survived McCarthyism and inspired by Rosa Park and Martin Luther King began to live up to its ideals. It wasn’t easy. The Army had to integrate schools in Little Rock. Birmingham turned dogs and firehoses on children. In the North, middle-class families fled desegregation orders: Cleveland’s population peaked in 1950 at 914,000. By 2000, it was half that.
For a time in the 60s and 70s, the nation seemed to be imploding. Assassins killed John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert and Dr. King. Hough and Glenville burned as waves of rioting left no American city unscathed. College students raged about the Vietnam War. Ohio National Guardsmen killed four students at Kent State University.
“What is happening to America,” The Plain Dealer asked. “Is the sickness of hate and violence poisoning America?”
Dawning of a new age
There was some good news. In 1962, John Glenn of New Concord became the first American to orbit the earth. A decorated combat pilot before he became an astronaut, Glenn went on to serve four terms in the U.S. Senate – and return to space at age 77. On July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong of Wapakoneta took “one giant leap for mankind.”
Glenn and Armstrong embodied American resiliency and optimism. During the closing decades of the 20th Century, the nation battled back against seemingly overwhelming challenges: AIDS, energy shortages, a hostage crisis in Iran. The Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union fell without a shot being fired. Red China embraced capitalism. Air and water quality water improved.
A U.S.-led global coalition forced Iraq out of Kuwait and seemed to herald a new-world order of peace. Technology in the 1990s sparked an economic boom. Giddy commentators proclaimed Pax Americana and suggested that technocrats could now control the business cycle.
Not quite. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, two airliners crashed into the World Trade Center, another dive-bombed the Pentagon and a fourth crashed in western Pennsylvania when its passengers attacked their captors. Sept. 12’s Plain Dealer editorial was blunt:
“The United States is at war today.
“We know not yet with whom, nor precisely why they struck – if the “why” behind the unimaginable horror of yesterday’s terrorist attacks can ever be fully plumbed. But we are at war as surely as we were on Dec. 7, 1941.”
Today, the mastermind of 9/11 is dead, but that war continues against an ever-evolving enemy that prefers terrorism to traditional battlefields. America has survived the worst economic crash since 1929. For the second time in 16 years, we will have a president who lost the popular vote.
Gray’s center of creation was pummeled by the retrenchment of American manufacturing and abandoned by people who believed Northeast Ohio had no future. Even many who stayed embraced self-fulfilling pessimism.
Now a new generation sees not a Mistake by the Lake, but an affordable, livable city blessed with brilliant architecture and an Emerald Necklace, with ethnic diversity and abundant fresh water, with enduring institutions that are the legacy of past success. The once “muddy” Public Square this past year has gone through a multi-million-dollar revival transformation. And thanks to the Cavaliers, the Indians and a well-run Republican Convention, the rest of America may be getting the message too.
After 175 years of tumult and triumphs, The Plain Dealer remains as promised, although drastically changed from its inception. Now the newspaper has a smaller web width, a website (online publication) and is home delivered just a few days each week. But it remains the lens through which the people of the Western Reserve can see themselves and the rest of the world.
The late Rabbi Daniel Jeremy Silver, who was the spiritual leader of The Temple, gave a sermon in the mid 1980s that should be well remembered by Clevelanders, especially as the city examines why its population has declined so severely over the years.
It may offer some insight into how Cleveland deteriorated and why. I believe it dissected Cleveland’s downfall and the reasons why the city decayed over the years. It suggests the city suffered the inertia of its past success. I think it also gives us something to think about when we get over-excited about projects – like the East Bank Flats development now and Gateway and other costly developments of the past couple of decades.
Cleveland’s greatness, he tells us, was a “matter of historical accident.” Geography, indeed, played a major component in our growth. It was not planned, nor could have been, I’d say.
Rabbi Silver’s words were taken from a sermon he gave in the mid-1980s. It was given wider exposure in the Cleveland Edition on March 6, 1985, more than 25 years ago. To me it’s as fresh as if it were given yesterday.
His words should receive much wider exposure in this day of the internet. It traces our downfall. It details many of the reasons we have failed.
I was particularly struck by his recitation of an attempt by John D. Rockefeller to finance higher education here and the response he got from Samuel Mather, one of Cleveland’s wealthy leaders of our iron ore and steel industry. Mather told Rockefeller that his children and his friends went to Yale. Cleveland didn’t need a great university. Go elsewhere, he advised Rockefeller. Rockefeller did. He gave the first million dollars to the University of Chicago, setting that university on its way to greatness. Cleveland lost its chance.
Rabbi Silver also told us that “… the future of this city does not depend upon entertainment or excitement….” He goes on: “In real life people ask about the necessities – employment and opportunity – before they ask about lifestyle and leisure-time amenities.” How about that?
Here are his words. This is a first attempt to look at Cleveland’s population losses and its tragic downfall as a leading American city.
I suggest anyone interested in the history of the city to print out Rabbi Silver’s address and keep it to read and re-read. It may be 25 years old but it speaks to us today as we make some of the same mistakes.
I hope to be able to trace some of the city’s decline and its causes as I have seen it from the mid-1960s until the present soon.
What’s Wrong with Cleveland
By Rabbi Daniel Jeremy Silver
Cities grow for practical reasons. Cities grow where there is water and farm land. Cities thrive if they serve a special political or economic need. A city’s wealth and population increase as long as the special circumstance remains. A city becomes a lesser place, settles back into relative obscurity, when circumstances change. Some, like Rome, rise, fall and rise again. Some like Nineveh, rise, fall and are heard of no more.
In this country the larger towns of the colonial period – Boston, Newport, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore – came into being and grew because they provided safe harbor for the ships that brought goods and colonists to the New World and carried back to Europe our furs and produce. New York continued to grow because it had a harbor and great river, the Hudson, that could carry its commerce hundreds of miles into the hinterland. Newport did not grow because all it had was a landlocked harbor.
Cleveland was founded as another small trading village on Lake Erie. We began to grow because of the decision to make the village the northern terminus of the Ohio Canal. The canal brought the produce of the hinterland to our port and these goods were then shipped on the lakes eastward to the Erie Canal and to the established cities along the eastern seaboard.
In 1840, shortly after the Ohio Canal was opened, there were 17,000 people in our town. We became a city through a second stoke of good fortune: Iron ore was discovered in the Lake Superior region. Because of the canal, this city was the logical place to marry the ore brought by ships from the Messabi Range, the coal brought by barge from the mines of southern Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania and the limestone brought by wagon and railroad from the Indiana quarries. Here investors built the great blast furnaces that supplied America the steel it needed for industrial expansion. From 1840 to 1870 our population increased tenfold. It is claimed that from 1880 to 1930 we were the fastest growing city in America. By 1930 Cleveland had become America’s sixth city. There was nothing magical about our growth, or really planned. It is a matter of historical accident: the siting of the canal, the discovery of iron ore and the ease of transportation here, the basic materials from which steel is produced.
There is an old Yiddish saying that when a man is wealthy his opinions are always significant and his singing voice is of operatic quality. During the years of rapid growth no one complained about the weather. For most of this period our symphony orchestra was a provincial organization and our art museum was either non-existent or a fledgling operation; yet, no one complained about the lack of cultural amenities. Our ball club wasn’t much better than it is today, but no one was quoted as saying that the town’s future depended on winning a pennant. There was then no domed stadium and no youth culture. Yet, young people of ambition and talent came. They came because there was opportunity here.
Those who believe that the solution to our current faltering status lies in a public relations program to reshape our tarnished image or in the reviving of downtown are barking up the wrong tree. We all welcome the city’s cultural resurgence – that Playhouse Square is being developed and that there is a new Play House – but, ultimately, the future of this city does not depend on entertainment or excitement, but upon economics. In real life people ask about the necessities – employment and opportunity – before they ask about lifestyle or leisure-time amenities.
We grew because we served the nation’s economy. We fell on hard times when the country no longer needed our services or products. Fifty years ago the nation and the world needed the goods we provided. Today the world no longer needs these goods in such quantity, and we can no longer produce our projects at competitive prices.
Once upon a time the steel we forged could be shipped across the country and outsell all competition. Today steel can be brought to west coast ports from Asia and to east coast ports from Europe and sold more cheaply than steel made here. The Steel Age is over and so is the age of the assembly-line factories that used our machine tools. This is the age of electronics and robotics, and these are not the goods in which we specialize.
Cleveland grew steadily until the Depression when, like the rest of the country, it suffered. Unlike many other areas we did not recover our élan after the Depression and World War II. It is not hard to know why. We were a city for the Steel Age. America was entering the High Tech Age. We lacked the plant, the scientific know-how and, sadly, the will to develop new products and new markets. The new age was beginning and the leaders in Cleveland preferred to believe that little had changed. We played the ostrich with predictably disastrous results. The numbers are sobering. The human cost they represented far more so. There were some 300,000 blue-collar jobs in the area by 1970. By 1971 this number had been reduced to 275,000 and by 1983 to 210,000. One in four factory jobs available 15 years ago no longer exists.
Cleveland lacks the two special circumstances that have made for the prosperity of certain American cities in the post-war era: government and advanced technologic research. This has been a time of expanding government bureaucracies and of the transformation of our information and control systems. Silicon Valley is the symbol of the new economy. We are a city of blast furnaces and steel sheds, not sophisticated laboratories.
The years between 1980 and 1982 were a time of national economic stringency, but the number of jobs available in the United States still grew by slightly under 1 percent. In the same period Cleveland lost 50,000 jobs between 1982 and 1984; when there was resurgence in employment levels, Cleveland lost another 30,000 jobs. The census for metropolitan Cleveland indicates that between 1970 and 1980, 168,000 people left the area and that the exodus continues at about the rate of 10,000 a year.
These facts should give pause to anyone who still believes that Cleveland will again become what Cleveland was a half-century ago. The numbers are sometimes rationalized as the result of the elderly leaving for warmer climates and a falling birth rate. These are factors, but the heart of the exodus has been our children. Our young, excited by new ideas, believe that another market will offer more opportunity or that their professional careers will be enhanced if they settle elsewhere.
Why has this happened to Cleveland?
Labor blames management. Management did not reinvest in new plant and equipment or research. When local corporations expanded into electronics, they generally built plants elsewhere. Management blames high labor costs and low labor productivity. Both groups are right, but in the final analysis, whatever the mistakes our political, business and labor leaders make, these alone do not account for Cleveland’s slide. Had there been fewer mistakes this town would still be suffering a serious economic downturn. We no longer are in the right place with the right stuff. (My emphasis.)
Our inability to adjust to a new set of circumstances is the inevitable result of a prevailing state of mind that can only be called provincial. Over the years Cleveland has been comfortable, conservative and self-satisfied. Clevelanders believed, because they wanted to believe, that what was would always be. Those who raised question were politely heard but not listened to. The city fathers set little value on new ideas, or indeed, on the mind. Business did not encourage research. Our universities were kept on meager rations. I know of no other major American city which has such a meager academic base.
A vignette: In the mid-1880s, John D. Rockefeller, then in the first flush of his success, went to see the town’s patriarch, Samuel Mather. He wanted to talk to Mather about Western Reserve College. Rockefeller believed that his hometown should have a great university. He knew that Mather was proud of Western Reserve and each year made up from his own pocketbook any small deficit. But Western Reserve College was small potatoes and Rockefeller proposed that the leadership of Cleveland pool its resources and turn the school into a first-line university. Mr. Mather was satisfied with Western Reserve Academy. It was just fine for Cleveland. He and those close to him sent their sons and their grandsons to Yale for a real education. He listened to Rockefeller, thanked him for his interest and suggested that he might take his dream somewhere else. John D. took his advice and in 1890 gave the first million dollars to the University of Chicago, a grant that set that university on its way to become what Western Reserve University is not – one of the first-rank universities in the country.
The same attitude of provincial self-satisfaction was to be found among our public officials. At the turn of the century we were certainly the dominate political force in the state; yet, when Ohio’s public university system began to expand, no one had the vision to propose establishing a major urban university in Cleveland whose research facilities would concern themselves with the problems of the city, its people and its industry. Again, in the 1950s, during the second period of major expansion by the state university system, Cleveland showed little interest. I am told that at first the town fathers actually opposed the establishment of Cleveland State University. They came around, of course, but ours is still one of the branches with the least research potential and fewest laboratories. Even today much of what it does is limited to the retraining of those who came out of our city schools and to the training of those who will occupy third-level jobs in the electronic and computer world. Change is in the air. Our universities are struggling to come of age, but a half century, at least, has been lost because Cleveland did not prize one of God’s most precious gifts – the mind.
Some argue that those who ran Cleveland limited their academic community because they did not want an intelligentsia to develop here. Academics and writers have a well-known propensity for promoting disturbing economic and political ideas. The comfortable and complacent do not want their attitudes questioned, but Cleveland’s lack of interest in ideas extended beyond political conservatism. Our leaders do not subsidize research and development in their corporations or in the university. Case was not heavily funded for basic research. Instead, it was encouraged to provide the training for mechanical and electrical engineers, the middle-level people needed by the corporations. It is only in the years of economic decline that our business leadership has begun to provide money for the research that ultimately creates new business opportunities and provides new employment.
Cleveland did not, however, fall behind in one area of technology: medical research. If the city fathers believed that the Steel Age would last forever, that real education took place back East and that it was wise and proper for them to look for investment opportunities elsewhere, they still lived here and the made sure that first-rate health care was available. Our hospitals have been well-financed. Medical research has been promoted. Such research was valuable and non-controversial, and the results of this continuing investment are clear. The medical field has been the one bright spot in an otherwise gloomy economic picture. Our hospitals are renowned worldwide. The research being done here is state-of-the-art. Recently the medical industry has come on straitened times, be even so, the gains are there and it is not hard to see what might have happened in other areas had our investment in ideas and idea people been significant and sustained.
Cleveland majored in conventional decency rather than in critical thinking. Our town has a well deserved reputation in the areas of social welfare and private philanthropy. Social work here has been of a high order. Until World War II the city had one of the finest public school systems in the country. We were concerned with the three Rs, but research goes beyond the three Rs. We never made the leap of intellect and investment that is required when you accept the fact that the pace of change in our world is such that yesterday is the distant past and tomorrow will be a different world.
We have fallen lengths and decades behind cities whose leaders invested money, time and human resources in preparing for the 21st Century. They broke new ground and laid foundations for change. We stayed with the familiar. As long as the economy depended upon machines and those who could tinker with machines, Cleveland did well. But when it was no longer a question of having competent mechanics retool for the next year’s production but a question of devising entirely new means of production, we could no longer compete. To a large extent, we still cannot.
In recent years Cleveland’s industrial leadership seems to have come awake to our mind and research gap, but the CEOs of the major corporations no longer have the power to singlehandedly make over the economy. In the High Tech Age, the factory that employs thousands of people is no longer the dominate force. Three out of every four jobs that have been created over the past decade have developed in businesses that are either brand new or employ fewer than 100 people. Those who lead old-time production line corporations struggle not to fall further and further behind and are an unlikely source of jobs.
Another problem has been that for decades the major banks were not eager to support bright, young outsiders who had drive and an idea but little ready cash. We all know people who went to our banks, were turned down, left town and set up successful businesses elsewhere. The officers of our lending institutions preached free enterprise and entrepreneurship, but most of their loans were to the stable, old-line corporations. For all their praise of capitalism, they were not risk takers. New business formation here has lagged behind that in most other cities. The birth of new business in Cleveland over the past three decades has been about 25 percent lower than the rate of new-business birth in other second-tier cities. Despite a new openness at the banks, we continue to trail. Catch-up takes a long time.
Cleveland’s business leadership has become aware of the need for research and development and of the need to stake bright young men and women who have ideas and are willing to risk their best efforts to make these successful; but even as we come alive to the importance of the inquiring mind and the risk takers of the academy and the research laboratory, we must recognize that Cleveland has a special albatross about its neck; Cleveland is not a city. There are over 30 self-governing districts in Cuyahoga County. There are over 100 self-governing communities in the metropolitan area. What we call Cleveland is an accumulation of competing fiefdoms.
This sad situation is also a result of our parochial outlook and our unwillingness to look ahead. It is easier to let each group draw into itself than to work out ways to adjust competing needs and interests. The result is a diminished city. There were 970,000 residents of the city in 1945; there are 520,000 today (My note: Try 396,815 as of 2010). Only one in four Clevelanders live within the metropolitan area. The economic gap and the gap of understanding between the suburbs and the city and between suburb and suburb has widened, not narrowed, over the years.
Those who live here lack of shared agenda because we have allowed each area to go its own way and seek its special advantage. Some of our fiefdoms are run simply for the benefit of their traffic courts. Others are run for the benefit of white or black power groups. Some exist to protect the genteel ways of an America that no longer exists. Each is prepared to put obstacles in the way of community planning when a proposal threatens its attitudes or interests.
Do you remember those small groups of white and blacks that used to meet on the High Level Bridge to signify that we were really one city? Their tiny numbers, the very fact that their actions were seen as symbolic, underscored how far we have moved away from each other. To be sure, Clevelanders meet together in non-political forums where we profess infinite good will and talk of shared goals, but the talk rarely leads to decisive actions. Why? We lack a political area where our needs are necessarily brought forward and brokered. We lack a political structure that would force us to adjust our interests and develop an agenda to which we could commit ourselves, and until such a structure is in place we will not be able to marshal the shared purpose.
When suburbanites look at the problem of the city, they tend to focus on the long-range economic problems: how to create jobs and prosperity. Any who live in the city have no work in the city or outside it. Their problem is not how we can, over a 5-year period, establish X number of new businesses that will provide X number of new jobs, but how to keep body and soul together; how to provide food, clothing and shelter for their families. We do not see the immediacy of their needs. They do not see the wisdom of our plans, and inevitably we frustrate each other’s hopes. The suburbs mumble about their particular concerns and the community stumbles into a future for which it cannot plan.
In 1924 the citizens of Lakewood and West Park voted on a proposal to annex their communities to the city of Cleveland. That proposal was defeated soundly. Since then every proposal to create countywide government has failed and failed badly. Yet it should be clear to all that only when we succeed in becoming citizens of a single community will we be able to do much about our economy and our future.
Because the city’s concerns stop at the borders, its ability to handle the future stops at its borders. The same is, of course, true of the suburbs. In Columbus the city grew by annexing to itself the farm land on which the commercial parks and the new suburbs were built. In Cleveland we went the other way; today you could do some large-scale farming within the city limits.
Will we confront this structural challenge and create metropolitan government? I see little reason to believe that we will. Our history has, if anything, intensified racial and class polarization. If we become a unified city, every group and municipality will lose some precious advantage. I can’t imagine the citizens of Moreland Hills wanting to throw in their lot with the citizens of Hough. Many minorities would lose their power base. The suburbs would no longer be able to provide services tailored to the middle class and would have to bear an expensive welfare load. Yet, until we unite politically we will be unable to address effectively the needs of Cleveland tomorrow. We simply cannot plan constructively so long as members of our many councils are able to thwart well-intentioned proposals.
Recent years have been better years for this city. There has been significant construction downtown. The highway system is in place. We have created regional transport, regional hospitals, and a regional sewage system. But big buildings downtown do not guarantee the city’s future. Big buildings can be empty buildings, as some of them are. Regional transport can mean empty buses. The future of Cleveland rests first on a revived economy. A revived economy depends upon bright people and new ideas. People do not get ideas out of the air. Ideas begin in our schools, universities and laboratories. High-quality education is costly. The future for Cleveland cannot be bought cheaply.
A meaningful future depends upon a new recognition of where a city’s strength lies. It’s nice that our suburbs are famous for their green lawns and lovely homes. It’s nice that everybody agrees that Cleveland is a wonderful place to raise children. It’s a wonderful place to raise children if you don’t want your children to live near you when they become adults. As things stand now, they will make their futures elsewhere. Our suburbs are the result of yesterday’s prosperity. Employment and political unity must be today’s goals if we are to have a satisfying future.
Unfortunately, we did not prepare in the fat years for a time when we no longer could take advantage of the circumstances that had made us prosperous. Those who study such things say that if the American economy stays healthy and the formation of new businesses in Cleveland continues at its present rate, we will be fortunate if in 1990 we have the same number of jobs we had in 1970.
Our future is to be a second-tier city. I do not find that such a discouraging prospect. A prosperous city of two million can be a satisfying place and can provide many amenities. But before we can feel sure even of a second-tier status, we must develop a new economic base and a renewed concern for community. We need to reevaluate our attitudes toward the mind. It is tragic that one in two who enter the city schools never graduate.
Of those who graduate – the best – who enroll in Cleveland State University, 51 percent need remedial work in mathematics; 62 percent need remedial work in English. Half the city’s children do not graduate from high school. More than half who graduate are not prepared for this world. Is this any way to prepare for the 21st Century?
When the rabbis were asked “who is the happy man?” they answered, “the person who is happy with his own lot.” The question that Clevelanders must ask is whether we can be happy even if we are not now, and will not become again, one of the premier cities in the country. The answer seems to me obvious. We can. But even the modest hope will escape us unless we put behind us the stand-patism that has characterized our past. We must put our minds and imaginations to work in planning for an economy and a community suited to the world of tomorrow.
DEATH BY POLITICIANS
by Roldo Bartimole
January 10th, 2017
Photo used courtesy of Scene.
He’s a nice guy. He’s earnest. He’s honest for a politician. He’s likely a good family man. He’s competent. He’s reliable. Don’t think he’d purposely do anyone a wrong. A stand-up guy.
But he’s going to KILL someone.
He’s a Republican Senator. Rob Portman. Of Ohio.
He’ll vote with the gang.
The gang wants to kill so-called Obamacare. It insures many people who cannot get medical coverage ANY OTHER WAY.
They want to kill it bad.
So that reminds me of a man I knew. I couldn’t call him a friend but maybe I could. He’s gone.
He’s gone because in 2008 he didn’t have any medical insurance.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed the U. S. Senate Dec. 24, 2009. It became law in 2010.
His name was Ed Hauser. He was one of the good guys.
He died some months before he could have gotten coverage along with millions of other Americans.
It’s the federal act Republicans want to kill. And Sen. Rob Portman will help.
Hauser death, I wrote back in December 2008 “was a tragedy that didn’t have to happen.”
In many other countries, I wrote about Ed, “It would not have happened,” and continued: “Ed died because America doesn’t have the decency to protect its own citizens with the health care that’s basic in all other industrial societies.”
I know he shouldn’t have died because he died on the way to the hospital. They called it: “Heart attack.”
He had been delaying care because he didn’t have coverage, except for catastrophic care, his friend Cathy Stahurski told me. She drove him to the hospital that day.
She felt he didn’t want to seek help because he didn’t have insurance coverage. And he was unemployed at the time.
Hauser had been an electric engineer but had been laid off a decade before from LTV Steel. He had been working temporary jobs but at the time of his death he wasn’t employed.
He didn’t just sit home.
Ed had become a civic activist. You’d see him at meetings with his video camera, watch-dogging public bodies. He was a Citizen.
One of his causes was Whiskey Island. He took people there, including me, to see what should be saved if only citizens would pay attention.
People called him “Mayor of Whiskey Island.” It’s really a peninsula at the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie.
Michael Roberts wrote in Cleveland Magazine: “Hauser is a pain—a persistent, nagging, unyielding pain. On the medical scale of one to 10, he would rate a 19. What makes him so painful is that he challenges the way the town and its dysfunctional government work.”
Ed Hauser waited too long for medical care because he couldn’t pay for it and had no insurance.
There was no Obamacare at the time.
He was a casualty of our government’s lack of concern.
It took a lot to pass the health care bill. Even though it was modeled after the Massachusetts bill passed under Mitt Romney. Remember him? He was a Republican.
Only Democrats in the Senate voted for the bill. Republicans have been playing a political game ever since. Telling citizens they would kill Obamacare and replace it with something better.
But everyone knows, including Sen. Portman, that they have no better replacement and if they had they wouldn’t pass it.
So Sen. Portman will kill some unknown Ed Hauser if he votes to kill the health care bill. And he will.
It’s as simple as that.
Death by politician.
A political scribe’s pen can pack more wallop in Columbus than a politician, especially when the writer is an outnumbered Democrat in the conservative Ohio House of Representatives.
Mike Curtin knew what he was getting into in 2012, when he traded in his reporter’s hat for a seat on Capitol Square. The homegrown journalist who rose from reporter to president of Dispatch Printing Co., owner of the Columbus Dispatch, won election nearly four years ago to the 17th District that covers much of the Hilltop, Valleyview and other down-and-out west side neighborhoods.
Even as a lawmaker, Curtin kept penning political tomes, including recently updating the Ohio Politics Almanac with a third edition.
But legislating is a time-consuming job, especially in one of the poorest districts in Ohio. Curtin, who turns 65 this summer, won’t run for re-election this year so that he can spend more time traveling with his wife and watching his grandkids grow.
“And quite frankly, I want to research and write more,” Curtin said. “If I have a talent, it’s more of a journalistic talent than a policy maker talent.”
Curtin started in 1973 as a reporter at the Dispatch and focused mostly on politics. He rose through the ranks to become the daily newspaper’s editor and eventually vice chairman in 2005. Along the way, Curtin became one of the state’s most respected journalists. He retired in 2007 but consulted with the Wolfe family-owned newspaper until he began his short legislative career.
“I was the Jim Siegel of this place in the early to mid ’80s,” Curtin said, referencing the Dispatch’s current Statehouse reporter.
As a state legislator, Curtin noted just how stark partisanship can be, which he blames in part on gerrymandering. But that’s an obvious analysis for many who follow politics.
More nuanced might be his observation about law enforcement’s diminished status at Capitol Square. In the 1980s and ’90s, police-affiliated groups could flex considerable political muscle when they were united on issues like firearms legislation, Curtin said. Words of caution from the Fraternal Order of Police, Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association, Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police carried clout when they urged tighter regulations on guns.
“Today they’re patted on the heads and they (legislators) say, ‘Thank you very much for your input,’ ” Curtin said. “The attitude here is there ought to be no regulations. It’s a national trend in the Republican Party and certainly true here. Just the disdain for regulation – in my view reasonable regulation like background checks – that’s the biggest disappointment and biggest surprise.”
Indeed, a May 8 column by political writer Thomas Suddes identified utilities, banks, insurers, nursing home operators and oil and gas drillers – but not the police – as those with the most influence at the Statehouse.
Curtin thinks expanding term limits would help some of what ails policy making. Since 2000, Ohio lawmakers in both chambers have had their stays limited to eight years, though they can spend more time on Capitol Square through a loophole that allows them to switch between the Senate and House. Curtin would like to see the maximum extended to 12 years, preserving institutional knowledge on complex issues such as energy and the environment that can take up to five years to master.
“In my view we need the Ron Amstutzs, we need the Jack Ceras. We need the people who have the long view and understand how we got to where we are,” he said of the experienced Republican and Democratic representatives.
That’s a part of why Curtin wants to get back into explanatory journalism – taking a public policy issue and reaching back in time to explain how it came to be. He did that in the 1990s during the DeRolph v. State of Ohio school funding debate that ended in the state Supreme Court’s ruling Ohio’s funding mechanism was unconstitutional.
More recently, changing the composition of the Columbus City Council to 13 members from seven and moving to district representation are proposals ripe for the kind of analysis Curtin hopes to provide.
HARD COPY IN CLEVELAND
An Overview of Cleveland Journalism Since 1818
By John Vacha
From a historian’s point of view, Cleveland’s first twenty-two years may be regarded as the Dark Ages. What dispelled much of the gloom was the appearance in 1818 of the city’s first newspaper, the Cleaveland Gazette & Commercial Register. The coming of newspapers would raise the curtain on such vital concerns as civic progress, economic growth, and political sentiment, as well as such often overlooked but revelatory matters as arrivals and departures, fashions, amusements, and the prices of eggs and bacon.
Even the spelling of the city’s name was finalized on the front page of a newspaper, though not according to popular legend. A folk version has it that the first “a” in Cleaveland was originally dropped by the Cleveland Herald in the 1830s in order to squeeze a new, slightly wider type font into its nameplate. (A computer could easily solve that problem nowadays, right?) Actually, the Cleveland Advertiser had beat the Herald to it in its very first issue of January 6, 1831, explaining that it simply considered the silent “a” to be superfluous.
New newspapers were cropping up on the banks of the Cuyahoga like dandelions in those days. Six appeared in 1841 alone, including the singularly-named but short-lived Eagle-Eyed News-Catcher. All it took was a flat-bed printing press, a few cases of type, an editor’s desk–and, hopefully, the support of a political party. Whereas newspapers in later days would support political parties, back then parties supported newspapers. The Herald was Whig in political orientation as was Cleveland, which made it the city’s dominant newspaper. It demonstrated its superiority in 1835 by becoming the city’s first newspaper to appear on a daily basis, after which Cleveland has never been without a daily newspaper–at least until the present day. The Herald also was printing on a steam-powered press by 1845 and obtaining news by telegraph two years later.
It was as a weekly that the Cleveland Plain Dealer first appeared on January 7, 1842, using the plant of the recently defunct Advertiser. As a Democratic paper, it lagged behind the morning Herald, becoming an evening daily only in 1845. Despite the fact that its politics relegated it to secondary status, the Plain Dealer nevertheless managed to produce Cleveland’s first “star” reporter. He took the unprepossessing form of Charles Farrar Browne, a gangling, solemn-faced but lucid-eyed youth who came to the Plain Dealer via Tiffin and Toledo in 1858. Put in charge of the “City Facts and Fancies” column, he was frequently at a loss for newsworthy copy. “We thought we had seen dull times in the items line, but we just begin to discover that we hadn’t,” lamented Browne in mock desperation:
Won’t somebody “pizen” somebody? Won’t somebody get mad and shoot a pistol at somebody?… Won’t some man run off with another man’s wife, previously…damaging the constitution of the husband? Won’t some “cultivated young man of prepossessing appearance” go and lose all his money at poker and then drown himself? Won’t nobody do nothing?
Browne finally decided to do something himself to fill the holes in his news columns. He invented an itinerant showman named Artemus Ward, who was wont on slow news days to send Browne letters describing, in fractured spelling and syntax, his misadventures on tour in the Midwest. “If you put this letter in the papers,” wrote “Ward” one day,
i wish you wood be more particlar abowt the spellin and punctooation. i dont ploom myself on my learnin, but i want you to distinkly understan that Artemus Ward has got sumthing in his hed besides lise. i shall be in Cleveland befour long and my hanbills shall certinly be struck off down to your offis.
But Ward never arrived in Cleveland, and Browne after three years departed for New York. His first book, which included many of his former Plain Dealer pieces, became a favorite with Abraham Lincoln, who read selections to his Cabinet.
Even as Browne exercised his fancy on the local scene, issues and events on the national level were stirring politics as well as journalism. Both the Democrats and especially the Whigs were torn by the slavery issue. Antislavery Whigs began supporting their own papers in competition with the more conservative Herald. One was the misleadingly named Daily True Democrat, which began in North Olmsted in 1846 but moved to Cleveland the following year. In 1852 Canadian-born Joseph Medill came from Cochocton to publish his Daily Forest City in Cleveland. The two antislavery Whig papers merged the following year as the Daily Forest City Democrat, with Medill joined as publisher by a printer from the True Democrat, Edwin Cowles. Early in 1855 the two publishers called a meeting of antislavery Whigs and Democrats in their newspaper office, which led to the formation of the Republican party. Cowles changed the paper’s unwieldy name to the Cleveland Leader and moved from the printing room to the editor’s desk after buying out Medill, who took his profits to Chicago and invested them in the Tribune.
Edwin W. Cowles, wrote one historian in 1910, “was the Horace Greeley of the west, the greatest editor Cleveland has ever produced.” Raised in Ashtabula County, the most radical antislavery corner of Ohio, he came to Cleveland at 14 to learn the printer’s trade. As editor of the Leader he bent his antislavery principles only once, advising the return of an escaped slave during the secession crisis in order to show the South that the Fugutive Slave Act, however hateful, could be enforced in the North. The South seceded anyway, and Cowles wasn’t going to be gulled again. Within a week of the Union defeat at First Bull Run, he was advocating immediate emancipation by the Lincoln administration and pursued that policy throughout the Civil War. As editor of the city’s major Republican newspaper, he was rewarded with the position of Postmaster of Cleveland. Regarding it as more than merely a political plum, he used it to inaugurate the nation’s first home mail delivery system.
Following the Civil War, Cowles justified his paper’s name as the pacesetter of Cleveland journalism. Its circulation of 13,000 in 1875 was double that of the Herald and several times that of the Plain Dealer, which had ceased publication for several weeks at the end of the war due to its Copperhead policies. In 1877 the Leader installed a perfecting press and printed its first Sunday edition. Cowles followed the Republican line on Reconstruction but balked at a third term for President Ulysses Grant.
Clean-shaven with a full mane of white hair, Cowles looked more like a village doctor than militant editor, but he carried a pistol on Cleveland’s streets and practiced his marksmanship on a target hanging in his office, where he beat off an assailant on at least one occasion. “In newspaper fighting he considered the sladge hammer a more effective weapon than the rapier,” eulogized the Plain Dealer, “and he went at a policy, or a rival paper with smashing blows instead of with keen thrusts.” Once the rebellion had been put down, he directed the brunt of his blows at any efforts by Catholics to divert public funds to the support of parochial schools. On the positive side, he campaigned successfully for the construction of the Superior Viaduct.
While the Leader was at the peak of its hegemony, a scrawny upstart, its opposite in nearly every respect, hit the streets. The Leader was a full-sized sheet of seven columns in width; the newcomer only five columns wide, fifteen inches in length. The Leader carried twenty long columns of ads, the newcomer but five columns in all. It took three cents to buy a copy of the Leader, while the newcomer went for a single copper penny; its name, in fact, was the Penny Press. Its founder, E.W. Scripps, would spend less than three years in the city, but his upstart newspaper would dominate Cleveland journalism for nearly a century.
Edward Willis Scripps came to Cleveland from Detroit, where he had helped his older brother James establish the Detroit News. Only 24 years of age, he was a red-whiskered six-footer with a hereditary cast in his right eye, who claimed to consume four quarts of whiskey and forty Havana cigars a day. The Penny Press, his first independent venture in journalism, would be the first link in what would become one of the nation’s most powerful newspaper chains: Scripps-Howard. From the beginning it professed to be independent politically, neither Republican nor Democrat (nor Prohibition, it might go without saying).
With its condensed format and affordable price, the Penny Press also set out to be a voice for the common workingman. “The Press was distinguished from its contemporaries in those days,” recalled Scripps, “in that it suppressed nothing and published nothing to gain the favor and approval of those people in the community who flattered themselves that they were the better classes.” When Leonard Case died unexpectedly, other papers said from heart disease, while the Press called it suicide. Against the request of its largest advertiser, the Press published news of his divorce suit. It even published the name of a young businessman cited by the ASPCA for driving a carriage with an improperly shod horse. The culprit’s name was E.W. Scripps.
But the best example of Scripps’ anti-establishmentarianism could be seen in his defiance of Henry Chisholm, head of Cleveland’s largest steel company. It began as a case of mistaken identity, when a Penny Press reporter misidentified Chisholm’s son as a man arrested for disorderly conduct. Chisholm lured the reporter to his office, where his workers covered him head to waist with black paint, and sued Scripps for criminal libel. Scripps retaliated by printing a full account of the affair headed “The Shame of Chisholm” and followed up by daily running a condensed version at the head of the Press editorial column. When Chisholm’s doctors informed Scripps that the attacks were endangering their patient’s health, the publisher refused to relent until Chisholm not only dropped his suit against the Press but paid $5,000 in damages to his reporter. Chisholm gave in but died nevertheless within a few weeks. “I believe that had I known that I was killing him at the time, I would have pursued the same course,” Scripps wrote later. “Had I taken a pistol and shot him to death, I would have felt no more and no less responsibility for that death than I have ever since felt.” Like Edwin Cowles, Scripps went about armed with a pistol; while Cowles practiced marksmanship in his office, Scripps practiced drawing quickly and shooting from the hip.
Not long after the Chisholm affair, Scripps left Cleveland for further journalistic ventures in St. Louis, Louisville, and other centers. He left the Penny Press in capable hands he had trained personally. By 1890 it had expanded in size and was known as the Cleveland Press, though its price held at one cent. Its circulation, growing apace with the population of an industrializing city, then stood at 43,510, several thousand more than the second-place Leader.
A major shake-up took place on Cleveland’s newspaper row along Frankfort Avenue as the nineteenth century drew to a close. It was instigated by Liberty E. Holden, who had accumulated a fortune from real estate and western mining investments. As a Democrat and advocate for the western silver interests, Holden purchased the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1885 to promote his political agenda. He then joined with the Cleveland Leader in buying the once dominant Herald. The Leader maintained the afternoon edition of the Herald as its own evening edition; the Plain Dealer buried the main morning edition of the Herald in order to facilitate its own reinvention as a morning daily. The final edition of the Herald contained its own obituary, which might also serve to mourn the passing of many other newspapers in future years:
In closing the record of the HERALD we can justly claim it to have been a clean and honorable, as well as useful, record. It has devoted itself to building up the interests of the City, the State and the Nation. It has sought to deal justly with all men, poor and rich, friends and opponents alike. It has championed no cause that it did not believe just. It has endeavored to treat every person and every subject with courtesy and fairness. We know that in passing out of sight it will leave behind it a good name and thousands who will mourn its departure as that of an old, a trusted and a valued friend. That knowledge is a consolation, even in the bitterness of parting.
Even minus the Herald, Cleveland could greet the twentieth century as its golden age of journalism, with half a dozen daily newspapers. Leading the afternoon field was the Press with a circulation of 86,158, followed by the Recorder (30,000) and the World (24,843). In the morning the Leader claimed circulation of 63,228 (including its afternoon News and Herald edition), with the Plain Dealer trailing at 30,000. There was also a daily German-language newspaper, the Waechter und Anzeiger, with 24,320 readers.
Journalism had become a big business, requiring major outlays of capital, extensive printing plants, and sizable editorial and business staffs. As such, newspapers were becoming too large for the old style of personal journalism. Liberty Holden for several years tried running the Plain Dealer himself, installing the new linotype typesetting machines despite a printers’ strike and boycott. By 1898, however, Holden turner over operation of the paper to two professional newspapermen, Elbert Baker and Charles Kennedy.
While personal journalism was becoming pass, political partisanship remained a visible fixture of journalism practice. Both the Press and the Plain Dealer were supporters of Cleveland’s progressive mayor, Tom L. Johnson. As once observed by newspaper critic A.J. Liebling, “Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one.” The Leader was owned by industrialist Charles A. Otis and Mark Hanna’s son-in-law Myron McCormick, both bitterly opposed to Johnson. During the election of 1907 they brought in noted New York cartoonist Homer Davenport to lampoon Johnson in a series of front-page Leader cartoons, and James Donahey of the Plain Dealer responded in kind. Davenport may well have won the cartoon war, but Johnson won the election.
At the same time newspapers were beginning to subordinate political partisanship in favor of popular, nonpartisan civic crusades. When fireworks in a Cleveland five-and-dime store ignited a fire that claimed seven lives, the Plain Dealer began a “Sane Fourth” (of July) campaign which eventually led to state regulation of the fireworks trade. Another crusade by the morning daily helped to bring about a city manager form of government for Cleveland.
Carrying on in the tradition of E.W. Scripps, the afternoon Press continued to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. It followed up a tip in 1904 about the suspicious financial transactions of one Cassie Chadwick, a resident of Euclid Avenue’s “Millionaires’ Row.” Its investigations uncovered evidence that the audacious lady had obtained large sums of money on the most dubious of collateral, including questionable securities and the groundless implication that she was Andrew Carnegie’s illegitimate daughter. The exposures led to the suicide of one banker and the embarrassment of several others.
Meanwhile, the economic realities of modern journalism worked to narrow the playing field. The Recorder morphed into the Daily Legal News, a court reporter read mainly by lawyers. The World, Cleveland’s nearest approach to “yellow” journalism (sample head: “Killed Her Stepdaughter, And Then Cracked Her Husband’s Skull With an Ax”), was purchased by Charles Otis along with the News and Herald and consolidated into the Cleveland News. Otis then sold both the News and the Leader to Daniel R. Hanna, son of Mark Hanna. The Leader had fallen far behind the Plain Dealer in circulation, however, and in 1917 Hanna sold it to his morning rival, keeping the afternoon News and continuing the Sunday Leader as the Sunday News-Leader. Burying the six-day Leader, the Plain Dealer then had the morning field to itself.
Following World War I, Cleveland’s newspapers settled into a stasis that would endure for nearly half a century. By and large, they were a conservative lot; brash, jazzy tabloids were springing up elsewhere, but none would try the Cleveland market. Publisher William Randolph Hearst likewise never had a Cleveland outlet. One final attempt to start a new local morning daily was made in the 1920s, but despite financial backing from the Van Sweringens, the Cleveland Times lasted only five years. Only in the ethnic press was there appreciable growth during the period, as Czech, Hungarian, Slovenian, and Polish dailies joined the German Waechter und Anzeiger. By 1938 Cleveland could count fifty foreign- language papers including ten dailies; twenty years later assimilation and immigration quotas had reduced their number to eighteen, including only four dailies.
With its morning monopoly and conservative makeup, the Plain Dealer was the “gray lady” of the mainstream press. It maintained its own bureau in Washington, D.C., which helped make it Cleveland’s “newspaper of record.” In 1932 it reorganized itself into the Forest City Publishing Company to facilitate its purchase of the Cleveland News. It maintained the News as an independent afternoon daily, probably for its nuisance value against the Press, but killed the News-Leader, its only rival in the Sunday field. Unhappy with the increased government activity of the New Deal, the Plain Dealer in 1940 endorsed the first Republican Presidential candidate in its century-long history, Wendell Willkie.
Competition between the News and the Press livened things up in the afternoon field. Two former Chicagoans brought a “Front Page” flair to the Cleveland News. As circulation manager, Arthur McBride wasn’t afraid to employ strong-arm tactics against the competition, which may have prepared him psychologically for his later formation of the Cleveland Browns. City editor A.E.M. Bergener in 1927–a year before a similar trick was depicted fictitiously on Broadway in The Front Page–actually located a fugitive embezzler but didn’t turn him over to the law until he had milked him for several News “exclusives.” The News was prized for its sports coverage, its early racing editions being especially popular on Short Vincent Street.
While the Press maintained a wide circulation advantage over the News, it experienced a major change of direction. In 1924 it endorsed neither the Republican nor Democratic candidate for President but the third-party Progressive Robert M. La Follette. But founder E.W. Scripps died the following year, and the Scripps-Howard chain fell under the direction of the much more conservative Roy Howard. Scripps-Howard papers were still allowed a degree of autonomy in local affairs, however, and in 1928 the Press got a young editor determined to make the most of that independence.
Prematurely bald and only a few inches above five feet in height, Louis B. Seltzer was raised in Cleveland’s Archwood-Denison neighborhood. He dropped out of school in seventh grade to go to work, beginning as an office boy for the Leader before moving over to the Press. Just 31 when he assumed the editorship, “Louie” earned the affection of his staff as both instigator and butt of schoolboy office pranks. He never forgot–nor let others forget– his self-made beginnings. “My heart has always gone out to the children of the rich,” he once wrote. “I feel for them.”
Seltzer believed that newspapers had lost touch with their readers, and he set out to restore a personal relationship with the common people. “I went out into the neighborhoods, the stores, the saloons, the schools, the shops and offices of the town,” he recalled. “The basic thing I discovered was that wanted a paper to be close to them, to be friendly–a paper that they could call on in emergencies and that would fight for them when they had trouble.” To the top of the Press front page he raised the slogan, “The Newspaper That Serves Its Readers.” He hired a Romanian immigrant, Theodore Andrica, and assigned him to Cleveland’s nationalities beat. Andrica began making annual visits to Central and Eastern Europe, bearing messages from Clevelanders to relatives in the old country. During World War II the Press would fulfill its service objective by keeping a photo and data file on area servicemen, printing photos of their wives and infants and a weekly local news digest to be sent to them, and raising funds after the war for a War Memorial Fountain as testimonial to their sacrifices.
With its Associated Press franchise and special war correspondents, the Plain Dealer kept Clevelanders abreast of the World War II battlefronts. Roelif Loveland described D-Day from a bomber piloted by a Clevelander over the Allied beachhead. Gordon Cobbledick, a sports writer back home, reminded Americans that there was still a war going on in the Pacific despite celebrations over Germany’s surrender:
It was V-E Day at home, but on Okinawa men shivered in foxholes half filled with water and waited for the command to move forward across the little green valley that was raked from both ends by machine-gun fire….
It was V-E Day everywhere, but on Okinawa the forests of white crosses grew and boys who had hardly begun to live died miserably in the red clay of this hostile land.
Both accounts were later included in the collection, A Treasury of Great Reporting.
Reporters and columnists had begun to shed their anonymity between the two world wars. Jack Raper skewered politicians in the Press, often simply by quoting them verbatim–alongside a standard icon he employed of a rampant bull, which came in several sizes to suit the outrageousness of the quote. W. Ward Marsh turned verbal thumbs up or down on movies for the Plain Dealer. Eleanor Clarage reported society doings for the Plain Dealer, Winsor French for the Press. Ed Bang and Ed McAuley headed the superb sports staff of the News. In 1953 Plain Dealer cartoonist Ed Kuekes brought Cleveland its first (and for half a century its only) Pulitzer Prize for an editorial cartoon depicting an American soldier old enough to die for his country in Korea but not yet old enough to vote.
In 1933 reporters from the Press and the News had demonstrated their growing power by organizing the country’s first chapter of the Newspaper Guild, a labor union for editorial and business employees.
Louis Seltzer and the Cleveland Press emerged from World War II at the height of their dominance. Seltzer was called arguably “the best and most effective newspaper editor in America” by historian Bruce Catton, himself a former Plain Dealer reporter. To others he was simply “Mr. Cleveland.” He and his paper were regarded a “kingmakers” in local politics, having successfully promoted the careers of Ohio Governor Frank Lausche and Cleveland Mayor Anthony Celebreeze. After the Press moved into a new building on Lakeside Avenue in 1959 there were tongue-in-cheek rumors of a secret tunnel under East 9th Street, through which mayors might pass from City Hall to get their marching orders from the Press editor.
Such power could come with a price. When the Press endorsed an extension of Clifton Boulevard through Seltzer’s own Clifton Park neighborhood, the editor was denounced by some of his neighbors as a traitor even though the new road would abut his own backyard. His most controversial stand came in the Sheppard murder case of 1954, in which he unleashed the power of the Press against a Bay Village doctor suspected of killing his wife. When the wheels of justice-seemed to be turning a bit too leisurely, Seltzer himself wrote a series of signed front-page editorials under such inflammatory heads as “Somebody Is Getting Away With Murder,” “Why Don’t the Police Quiz No. 1 Suspect?”, and “Quit Stalling and Bring Him In!” Sheppard was tried and convicted but later released on the basis of prejudicial publicity, then retried and acquitted.
In the meantime, however, Seltzer’s Press had been named by Time magazine as one of the ten best newspapers in America, putting it in a class with such peers as the Baltimore Sun, The New York Times, and the Washington Post. When an indigent woman died alone in the city, said Time, she left a note addressed to the Press. “The only thing I own is my dog,” read the note. “Please take it to the Press. I know the home they find will be a good one.”
In its heady days of postwar supremacy, the most serious threat to the Press was neither the News nor Plain Dealer but the arrival of television. Scripps-Howard brought Cleveland its first television station in 1947. This was WEWS, which was soon followed by WNBK (now WKYC) and WXEL (now WJW). The latter in 1951 hired a Western Reserve University speech professor, Warren Guthrie, to deliver the news as the “Sohio Reporter.” Working before the coming of teleprompters, Guthrie recited his fifteen-minute telecast from memory with the aid of only a few brief notes. He lasted for twelve years before being replaced by an anchor team.
Much longer-lived was the television career of Dorothy Fuldheim, who joined WEWS when she was 54, two months before the station signed on. She brought considerable experience as a lecturer, having acquired her material through interviews with such newsmakers as Adolf Hitler (“he didn’t know I was Jewish”). At WEWS she became the first woman in the nation to have her own news show, a program of interviews and analysis. Barely five feet tall, she was nevertheless known as “Big Red” both for her flaming hairdo and take-no‐prisoners style. In 1970 she threw hippie Jerry Rubin off her show in mid- program for his offensive manners but several weeks later cried on-air while defending the students after the Kent State shootings. She received mostly hostile feedback for that but also discovered a basket of flowers at her doorstep with a note from some students reading “We wept with you last night.”* The only thing that could knock Big Red off the air was a stroke at the age of 91.
* Television, unfortunately, can leave a spotty paper (or even tape) trail. Transcripts of Fuldheim’s commentaries were sometimes reproduced for viewers who requested them, but evidently a complete file was never assembled. WEWS eventually sent what they had to Kent State University, but ironically, it didn’t seem to include the Kent State shooting script.
Television deprived newspapers of their news monopoly, especially those published in the afternoon. Whereas workingmen formerly would come home and pick up their evening paper after supper, now families would turn on the evening news after or even during supper. Afternoon papers began disappearing in city after city. In Cleveland the News was never able to achieve even half the circulation of the Press, and the Plain Dealer finally sold it to its afternoon rival in 1960. For a year or two the surviving evening daily was published as the Cleveland Press and News, but the name “News” got smaller and smaller and finally vanished altogether. The Plain Dealer used the occasion to move from its building at Superior and East 6th (present site of the Cleveland Public Library’s Stokes wing) down the street to the former News plant at 18th and Superior.
Under a young new publisher, the Plain Dealer began to cast off its stodgy gray image. Thomas Vail took over the reins of his great grandfather Liberty Holden’s paper and set out to brighten up its makeup and lighten up its reporting and editorials. In 1964 the Plain Dealer endorsed its first Democrat for President in twenty-four years, Lyndon Johnson. Later its full-page endorsement would help Carl Stokes become the first African American mayor of a major American city.
Newsweek magazine in 1965 praised the paper’s “tigerish” attitude. With a circulation within 5,000 copies of its rival, the Plain Dealer was poised to challenge the Press on its own terms. When the Holden heirs decided to sell the paper to the Newhouse chain in 1967, it brought a record price of $54.2 million and had little effect on the paper’s editorial policy. During the Vietnam War the Plain Dealer was the first newspaper in the country to publish pictures of American atrocities at My Lai.
Though elimination of the News had given the Press a spike in circulation, in the long run it couldn’t compensate for the indigenous problems of an evening newspaper. Cleveland’s third and longest newspaper strike in 1962 shut both of its papers down for 129 days, but the Press emerged with a circulation loss nearly three times that of the Plain Dealer. By 1970, not long after the retirement of Louis Seltzer, the Press trailed its morning adversary by nearly 25,000 copies. It may have been a writers’ paper, as exemplified by columnists Don Robertson and Dick Feagler, but it was becoming less and less of a readers’ paper. (“Newspapermen’s newspapers,” as an editor of the defunct New York Herald Tribune once observed, “always seem to fold.”)
Even as the Press observed its one hundredth birthday with a special Centennial Edition in 1978, there were signs that Scripps-Howard intended to sell it or fold it. Two years later, after negotiating concessions from its unions, Cleveland businessman Joseph E. Cole purchased the Press in a last-ditch effort to save it. His rescue measures included the introduction of a Sunday edition followed by that of a morning edition. Neither availed, and the Press printed its final edition on June 17, 1982. For the first time since the early days of the Cleveland Herald, Cleveland was a one-newspaper town. The fact that it had plenty of company in such places as Denver, Columbus, and Atlanta, did little to ease the withdrawal pains of newspaper addicts.
Some of the news void in print was filled by the appearance of alternative newspapers. Designed to provide readers with news and opinions not generally covered by mainstream media, they were usually of tabloid or smaller size and appeared weekly or less frequently. One of the earliest and most outspoken was Point of View, a bi-weekly newsletter published on a shoestring by Roldo Bartimole, a former Plain Dealer reporter. It was largely a one-man operation that gloried in the Socratic role of “a gadfly on the body politic.” Objects of his exposure ranged from City Hall to Bartimole’s former employer, the Plain Dealer. While its subscribers never numbered more than a few hundred, they included a heavy proportion of the area’s opinion and decision makers.
Somewhat more traditional in appearance and approach was the Cleveland Edition, a free weekly tabloid founded by former teacher Bill Gunlocke in the wake of the demise of the Press. Its staff included Bartimole, former Press writer Doug Clarke, and humorist Eric Broder. Like Point of View, its editorial policy tended to be anti- establishmentarian. Its exclusive reliance on advertising revenue proved to be its downfall, and the Edition ceased publication in 1992. Another alternative weekly, the Free Times, took over where the Edition left off but after a few years met the same fate. It merged into the Scene, originally an entertainment weekly that survives as Cleveland’s principal alternative newspaper.
City Magazines also helped to fill the information void left by the disappearance of afternoon dailies. Cleveland’s principal representative was the eponymous Cleveland Magazine, launched in 1972 by publishers Oliver Emerson and Lute Harmon. “The whole idea was to do stories nobody else was doing,” said Michael Roberts, the editor for 17 years. A notable example was a 10,000-word article on the mayoral administration of Dennis Kucinich by Frank Kuznik in 1978. By the turn of the millennium, however, serious journalism tended to become secondary to such “lifestyle” features as “Best Suburbs,” “Best Schools,” and “Best Restaurants.”
As Cleveland’s sole surviving daily, the Plain Dealer prospered in the 1990s. It replaced hot type with computer-set printing and increased its editorial staff from 270 to 400. In 1994 it opened a new $200 million production and distribution center in suburban Brook Park, where four huge Goss presses could each turn out 75,000 copies an hour featuring full- color reproductions. Editorial and business staffs remained at a remodeled Superior Avenue building, from where pages were fiber-optically transmitted to the Brook Park plant.
Editorially, the Plain Dealer compiled a rather mixed record of victory and defeat. Its music critic carried on such a relentlessly adverse campaign against a new Cleveland Orchestra conductor that he was finally removed from the beat. In a one-newspaper town the power of the press needed to be used but not abused. While the Plain Dealer may have been somewhat tardy in addressing corruption in Cuyahoga County government, its subsequent focus on the issue helped bring about not only retribution but reform. And finally, the paper’s long drought ended when columnist Connie Schultz won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2005, the paper’s first Pulitzer in half a century. Even this had a downside, however, as Schultz afterwards turned in her resignation in order to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest due to her marriage to U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.
With the turn of the millenium in 2000, the Plain Dealer discovered that technology could be a double-edged sword. On the one hand it enabled the paper to print electronically in color, but on the other it empowered a young generation to bypass hard copy altogether and obtain their information electronically. The internet posed a more critical threat to newspapers than television ever did. Along with other newspapers across the country the Plain Dealer began losing readers, which, exacerbated by the collapse of the economy in 2008, resulted in a loss of advertising.
Advertising generally has been an even more vital part of newspaper revenue than subscriptions, which is why editors have often been more fearful of offending advertisers than readers. Circulation figures traditionally have been important to newspapers chiefly as a means of setting advertising rates: the more readers, the higher the ad rates. E.W. Scripps had dreamed of putting out a newspaper free of advertising, reasoning that
If the public would insist on paying the publishers of the daily. . .journals the full cost of producing the same, plus a profit, so that a would-be honest publisher would not be compelled to depend for his existence upon the good will and patronage of the advertiser, there would be a chance at least of our having a less dishonest press.
Scripps actually tried such an adless newspaper in Chicago, but World War I helped put an end to the experiment. In the century or so since Scripps, newspapers have still failed to find a substitute for advertising.
Most dailies, including the Plain Dealer, have made efforts to capture internet readers by offering digital samplings of their print editions, but they’ve yet to attract enough advertisers to pay the costs. They are also trying to figure out how to persuade digital readers to pay for their electronic product, when nearly everything else on the Internet is available at no extra cost. Some newspapers began erecting “firewalls” after their first few stories, beyond which readers would have to subscribe for more. The Plain Dealer set up a website, Cleveland.com, containing stories from its own paper and other sources, but offered it free of charge.
Around the beginning of 2013, the Plain Dealer appeared to be approaching a crisis that threatened its very existence, at least as readers knew it. Advance Publications, the newspaper branch of the Newhouse organization, had trimmed back its papers in several cities from daily to three-times-a-week publications. The hit list was headed by the venerable New Orleans Times-Picayune, which suggested that the Plain Dealer itself might soon be under the gun. Plain Dealer employees, with backing from the Newspaper Guild and the Communications Workers of America, launched a public campaign to save their daily. Besides a television commercial, their efforts included a Facebook page (fighting fire with fire?) and a petition that collected more than 7,000 signatures.
A reprieve came in April of that year, when editor Debra Adams Simmons announced at a newsroom meeting that the Plain Dealer would remain a seven-day newspaper. It was not a total victory, however, as the paper would cut back on home delivery sometime that summer to four days a week. On the week’s remaining three days, readers might either pick up their “PD” at a newstand or subscribe to a new e-edition–“a digital version of the newspaper itself.” One other cost of survival would be a further reduction of the news staff: already down to little more than 160, another 52 would have to go.
Such is the state of print journalism in Cleveland, nearly two centuries after the first appearance of hard copy. What began with a single voice in the wilderness, followed by dozens of successors of various sizes and quality, has come down again to basically a single lone survivor, the Plain Dealer. True, that survivor retains a far from negligible 300,000 readers, but that is no guarantee of existence in an era of rapidly changing methods of communication.
Are those remaining readers a dying breed, or can print journalism attract new generations to the smell of newsprint? And if newsprint is to be replaced by some form of cybercommunication, will the new system possess the authority of a tightly edited metropolitan newspaper? Will it have sufficient resources to expose future Watergates, Pentagon Papers, or Cuyahoga County corruption?
More importantly, would a digital daily feel a responsibility to fulfill the historical role of American journalism as the “Fourth Branch of Government”? One regional publisher who keenly felt that responsibility was John S. Knight, who parlayed his Akron Beacon Journal into the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain. “As responsible purveyors of information and opinion,” wrote Knight,, “our newspapers are committed to the philosophy that journalism is likewise a public trust, an institution which serves, advances, and protects the public welfare.”
In the past, newspapers have formed uniquely personal relationships with their readers, who have taken their passing like the death of a friend or a relative. That has not prevented the death of some great papers, however, whenever their circulation has fallen below a critical mass. When the Chicago Daily News folded some thirty-five years ago, one of its writers wondered even then whether print journalism was an endangered species. “If the public can tolerate a Chicago without a paper like the Daily News–and apparently it can–then clearly our society is not functioning at the high pitch of informed civility that Jefferson envisioned,” wrote David Elliott. “But then Jefferson never imagined Chicago, or television, or mass advertising, or the combustion car and its stepchild of exurban sprawl.”
Or computers and the internet, we might add. It was Jefferson, too, who once said that if he had to make a choice between having “a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government,” he wouldn’t hesitate to opt for newspapers. If newspapers are a dying breed, we had better come up with their equivalent.