Veteran journalist, former East Cleveland Mayor and 2017 Cleveland mayoral candidate Eric Brewer has launched a print newspaper, his 13th, that he hopes will bring an "old-school" journalistic sensibility to a region hungry for it.
The pugnacious writer and politician has, in recent years, published diatribes and breaking news on his personal Facebook page, much of which has been directed at local elected leaders, corrupt businesspeople and assorted bad actors. His work is marked both by brash language and a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of city and state law.
But last month, Brewer's page was suspended by Facebook, a punitive measure he told Scene he believes to be permanent, due to two previous temporary bans. These bans presumably were the result of content flagged by readers. (The most recent ban, Brewer believes, likely originated from a post about the local law firm Squire Patton Boggs and its Russian clients
. After shutting down his page, Facebook demanded two forms of identification from Brewer to confirm his identity, he said, but Brewer declined.)
Undeterred by Facebook's censorship, he has returned to an industry he knows well: print journalism. Though he has been posting content to his website, EJBnews.com, he believes a newspaper will allow him to build on his name recognition and more fully penetrate the Cleveland market. He told Scene that he printed 50,000 copies of an introductory issue of EJBNEWS
(PDF below) and aims, ultimately, to produce a weekly edition. He wants distribution to be concentrated in the city of Cleveland and a few inner-ring suburbs.
Brewer said that he has added three writers and intends to build out a sales and operations team in the coming weeks. He said that due to his extensive publishing experience, he has an expansive network of potential advertisers who are familiar with the type of journalism he produces. The first edition features ads from multiple political candidates.
"The goal," he said, "is to take a more forensic look at the community, to expose lies and to give people information that empowers them to do something about it."
This 'old-school' journalistic approach will include, he said, drilling into public documents and reporting rigorously on City Hall, the school board, government and management. Eventually, he said, he'll move into entertainment coverage as well.
Brewer acknowledged that his writing — and certainly his headlines — can be confrontational. He said that's intentional. It's strategic.
"If I want you to do right, I've gotta get in your face," he said. In a follow-up email, he said his readers appreciate that. They're not interested in being "passive consumers" of local news. They want information they can act on, information that can create change.
"Consider it took me less than 30 days to pressure Governor John Kasich and his EPA director, Craig Butler, into closing the Noble Road dump once I went in 'hard' on them 'individually' as being 'derelict' in the performance of their official duties and criminally exposed," he wrote, referencing the East Cleveland Noble Road Dump story that his reporting brought to light.
Brewer, who started his first newspaper almost exactly forty years ago and whose resume includes stints at both the Cleveland Press
and the Call & Post,
designed the eight-page paper by himself. On the back page, he calls EJBNEWS Cleveland's "boldest and most empowering source of news."
"I’m not a publisher and journalist who believes my American people are dumb, or that the collective intelligence of our community here in Cleveland exists at the 8th-grade level," Brewer wrote in a piece announcing
the print run. "Fuck that dumbed-down editorial bullshit the so-called 'mainstream' media pushes. I believe in exceptionalism and that 'my American people' here in Cleveland and northeast Ohio are fucking brilliant. I’m going to editorially respect you that way."