Wednesday, December 12, 2018

AdvanceOhio Plans to Outsource Local PD Jobs, Hires PR Firm to Run Interference

Posted By on Wed, Dec 12, 2018 at 9:34 AM

  • Sam Allard / Scene

In what may be a grim foretaste of labor negotiations set to occur in 2019 when the Plain Dealer's union contract expires, the Plain Dealer Publishing Company and its corporate parent, Advance Ohio, are now considering outsourcing the jobs of local journalists. The PD News Guild released a statement to that effect on social media Tuesday. 

It's as yet unknown how many jobs may be cut or where they'd be outsourced to. Members of the News Guild were unable to speak to Scene about details of the negotiations because they are currently at the bargaining table. Based on the Guild's public statement, though, it sounds like headline writers, page designers and copy editors could stand to lose their positions.

PD Editor George Rodrigue is atypically on the other side of the table in the current negotiations, Scene was told, working alongside labor relations lawyers for Advance. Rodrigue has not yet responded to an emailed request for comment and was unavailable by phone Wednesday morning. 

Copy editor Wendy McManamon is chair of the PD News Guild. Without going into specifics, she noted the irony of the PD celebrating local journalism on one hand while preparing to outsource local jobs on the other. The Guild's social media post referenced a recent "marketing blitz." 

This is the work of local PR firm Falls Communications, who was recently hired by Advance to produce the "We Are the Stories We Share" series. The material is meant to highlight the work of local journalists and engender good will for the media in an era of distrust, division and violent attacks at news organizations.

But one source told Scene that engaging Falls was a deliberate tactic, essentially running interference while the labor proposals were being hatched and then presented to Guild representatives. A Plain Dealer reporter confirmed that this was more or less the case.

McManamon, by phone, said that it has been an extremely stressful time at the paper. 

"Suffice it to say, they look at what we do in the 'pub hub,' the copy editors and the designers and the people who select the stories for the paper, as an expense," she said, "and they think they can do it cheaper elsewhere. That's what it boils down to. What I want to convey is that we believe our quality makes us a worthy investment. We're not just pushing pages out of a printer. We know our writers and our photographers. We have their backs, and we have the readers' backs."

Tuesday afternoon, the Guild responded to a request for a comment with a general statement about its social media posts:

"We put out a statement today on the battle our Guild members face because we believe in transparency," the statement read. "We believe that the community deserves to know the company is considering outsourcing local jobs that are vital to putting out a quality newspaper. We can’t comment on all of the specifics because we are meeting with the company and trying to get them to consider options to keep this work local. We have hope that we can convince them that our talented copy editors, designers and artists bring quality they won’t get from folks who don’t live here. We want to keep Cleveland’s journalism local."

What guild members did not say — it would be superfluous to note — is that by separating the digital and print newsrooms, Advance has created an inefficient operation for producing and editing news.

The print Plain Dealer staff, now working under one roof at the production facility on Tiedeman Road, is union, organized as the Plain Dealer News Guild (News Guild Local 1). The digital staff, led by Chris Quinn and currently working out of 1801 Superior Avenue, is non-union. Reporters' from both newsrooms write stories that appear in print and online, yet staffers rarely communicate with each other and work is often duplicated. Most in the public refer to the entire operation as "the Plain Dealer," though has fortified its own brand as a cesspool for bigots in the comments section.

If the current negotiations were truly about cost-cutting, about 'creating efficiency,' gutting local page designers and editors from the print shop would not be the lowest-hanging fruit. Nor would doing so be a sensible business decision. As local Guild members have noted, remote headline writers and designers, who aren't plugged into the community, produce a more generic, lower-quality product.

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The Tom Katlees to Play a Release Party on Friday at Negative Space

Posted By on Wed, Dec 12, 2018 at 8:19 AM

A local indie rock band that formed six years ago, the Tom Katlees have finally finished recording their debut album, Vesper. The band will celebrate its release at Negative Space, where they’ll perform at 8 p.m. on Friday with locals the Mason District and Punch Drunk Tagalongs.

Recorded by Alex Madej at his locally based Moda Co. Recording, Vesper is, according to a press release announcing the show at Negative Space, “a rapid run into the woods that drives the listener from the rabbit hole into the stratosphere." The snarling guitars help to give the indie pop music a bit of an edge.

Tickets to the show cost $10.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Shake Shack to Open Downtown Cleveland Location of its Popular Burger Concept

Posted By on Tue, Dec 11, 2018 at 4:44 PM

  • Scene Archives Photo
Ohio's first Shake Shack opened this summer at the Pinecrest development in Orange Village. Soon after that splashy opening we learned the the company also would be part of a fresh class of newcomers at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, slated to open sometime this winter. Now we're learning that Shake Shack will open one of its insanely popular "modern day roadside burger stands" in the heart of it all: Downtown Cleveland.

The long-rumored addition was confirmed by company spokespeople this past fall, a help wanted add was recently posted online, and today, Plain Dealer real estate reporter Michelle Jarboe confirmed the plans and included a summer ETA.

The downtown location will be neighbors to the Marble Room at the Garfield Building, located at the corner of East Sixth and Euclid.

Attempts to reach Shake Shack spokespeople have been unsuccessful.  

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Adam Sandler To Perform at Connor Palace in February

Posted By on Tue, Dec 11, 2018 at 2:58 PM

  • Courtesy of Playhouse Square
Comedian Adam Sandler just announced dates for a 2019 tour that'll include both his standup and comic songs. It’ll partly be based on his Netflix series, 100% Fresh, and it'll include "surprise guests."

The show comes to Connor Palace at 8 p.m. on Feb. 7. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday.

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Rapper Vince Staples Will Play the Agora in March

Posted By on Tue, Dec 11, 2018 at 1:43 PM

  • Courtesy of the Agora
Critically acclaimed Long Beach, CA-based rapper Vince Staples has just announced tour dates in support of his latest endeavor, FM!

The tour will mark the first time that he'll perform tracks from the album live.

Dubbed Smile, You’re on Camera, the tour will feature support from Compton rapper Buddy and Baltimore rapper JPEGMAFIA.

The tour comes to the Agora on March 6. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday.

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Larry the Cable Guy To Perform at Hard Rock Live in 2019

Posted By on Tue, Dec 11, 2018 at 1:16 PM

  • Courtesy of Hard Rock Live
Hard Rock Live has begun announcing comedy shows for 2019. Yesterday, the venue announced that Dane Cook is on the docket, and it has now announced that Larry the Cable Guy will perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 6.

A self-professed redneck, Larry the Cable Guy hosted Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy on the History Channel for three seasons and was also the star of the CMT animated show Bounty Hunters.

He’s also performed on the hugely successful Blue Collar Comedy Tour with comedians included Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Engvall.

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Committee to Reclaim Ward 4 Eyes Ken Johnson Recall, But Building Grassroots Coalition First

Posted By on Tue, Dec 11, 2018 at 11:58 AM

Ward 4 Cleveland City Councilman Ken Johnson
  • Ward 4 Cleveland City Councilman Ken Johnson
A group of nine Ward 4 residents and activists met Saturday morning in an apartment on Shaker Boulevard to map out a plan to reclaim their community after revelations of sustained misuse of public dollars by Councilman Ken Johnson.

The group included Rowland Mitchell, who ran against Ken Johnson in the 2017 election, and former municipal court judge and Cuyahoga County Council President C. Ellen Connally. 

Calling itself the "Committee to Reclaim Ward 4," the group has established three key objectives: to remove Ken Johnson from office, "one way or another"; to ensure that the incumbent councilman does not get to appoint his successor; and to include all residents of Ward 4 in the process of deciding who will represent them moving forward.

Organizer Michelle Jackson told Scene by phone that the committee represents disparate organizations with different missions. "Not all of us have the same individual goals," she said, "but we all want better governance." 

She said that the committee felt it was critical to capitalize on the "unprecedented press attention" to build a grassroots coalition across all 21 ward precincts, 17 of which are currently led by Johnson loyalists.

She said it would be foolish to aggressively pursue a recall in the short-term, especially when mobilizing volunteers "in the dead of winter" is a challenge. But organizers will be working their contacts among the clergy and small business owners with the goal of building a strong grassroots coalition for the spring. 

"It would be presumptuous on our part to think that we speak for the entire community," she said. "And we know we can't form consensus until we start having those conversations in every precinct, even those that have been overlooked." 

Jackson is confident that there's sufficient momentum and anger in Ward 4 to pursue a recall election in the spring if Johnson has not resigned or been removed by then. One of the Committee's first tasks is a letter-writing campaign to city council, apprising Council President Kevin Kelley and others of residents' displeasure and their ultimate aims. They also hope to inquire about council's willingness and ability to remove their colleague. 

"We really want to build a grassroots coalition," Jackson said. "But we cannot deny the elephant with the 70s pimp tail and a track suit in the room. [Johnson] has got to go, and residents of Ward 4 need to have a say in who the placeholder is until the next election. This man has used this ward as the Ken Johnson Employment Agency for too long, and letting him appoint a successor would be an insult to the community."

The Committee to Reclaim Ward 4 has another meeting planned before the end of the month, at which they intend to put together a more detailed organizing road map for 2019. 

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