Friday, February 22, 2008

The Cleveland Press

I was going through some childhood mementos the other day and found one of my prized possessions as a child – my Paper Mate pen that I won in the fifth grade for winning my grade school’s Cleveland Press Spelling Bee. I started thinking about how I used to come home from school and sit down and read the afternoon newspaper. Full disclosure – I always started with the comics section. Our household seemed to be a Cleveland Press household, because with 6 kids in the house, I don’t think anybody – including my parents – had time to read a morning paper.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the days when Cleveland was a two-newspaper town, and even as a kid, I always felt that The Press was the ONLY newspaper that was good enough for me to read.

The Cleveland Press was part of a chain of newspapers founded by Edward Scripps. The Press was first published in November 1878 as the “Penny Press” and was only a small, four-page paper. The name was shortened to “The Press” in 1884, and took the name “The Cleveland Press” in 1889. For many years, the paper was THE daily newspaper in town. According to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History:
“By its 25th anniversary in 1903, the Press was Cleveland's leading daily newspaper. In 1913 the Press moved into a new plant at E. 9th and Rockwell (the present BancOhio Bldg. site). As it entered the 1920s, the Press neared 200,000 in circulation and maintained its political independence by proposing the city manager form of government for Cleveland and supporting Progressive candidate Robt. La Follette for president in 1924. Louis B. Seltzer became the 12th editor of the Press in 1928, and under his 38-year stewardship the Press became one of the country's most influential newspapers. Seltzer readjusted its original working-class bias into a less controversial neighborhood orientation, stressing personal contacts and promoting the slogan "The Newspaper That Serves Its Readers.""

A black mark on The Press’s record came in 1954, when it became overzealous and biased in its coverage of the well-known murder case involving Dr. Sam Sheppard. Years later, the U.S. Supreme court heard an appeal on the case, and granted Sheppard a new trial. One of the reasons for the reversal was the prejudicial publicity of the first trial, The Cleveland Press being at the heart of the problem. (I can see that the news media never learned any lessons here.)

In 1960, the paper purchased and merged in The Cleveland News, and became the city's only afternoon newspaper. A few years later, under Thomas L. Boardman, the Press’s readership declined (along with other afternoon papers in the US), and it was passed in circulation by The Plain Dealer in 1968. Scripps-Howard sold the paper in 1980 to Cleveland businessman Joseph E. Cole (Cole National Corporation). Cole introduced a Sunday edition in August 1981, and later a morning edition in 1982. But, it was too late for The Press, as advertising losses, coupled with a lackluster economy, forced the folding of the press later only a few months later.

If you’re interested in seeing some of the old pictures from the Cleveland Press, visit this web site, The Cleveland Memory Project.

These days, even with all the available news sources on television and the Internet, I still like to read the newspaper. Luckily, besides getting The Plain Dealer, I also get the News Herald. It’s nice to have a second (local) opinion. And that’s what I miss most about The Cleveland Press.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Cleveland information, here!

1 comment:


The Cleveland Press was the only newspaper to enter our house.

My family was on the front page on The Cleveland Press 1943-1944.

I am trying to find that story.

Backus Family