Longtime Local Print Distributor Klein News Shuts Down Operations

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This past Sunday marked the last day of operation for Klein News Distribution, the local company that had been printing and distributing national newspapers and periodicals since 1927. With the last thud of the Sunday New York Times hitting doorsteps across the region, the move marked another notch in the belt for the Plain Dealer Publishing Company’s monopolistic reach.

“Newspaper sales are continually dropping,” office manager Rebecca Kempton said during a dolorous Friday afternoon. “So many newspapers have gone out of business, and the ones that are still in business are looking at other ways to maintain their revenue.” In a sense, local outfits are soliciting printing and distribution business from the nationals. Because the local papers are already distributing to locations around town anyway, adding new products like a USA Today doesn’t come at a huge cost. In turn, the paper’s low rates drive out competition from smaller distribution houses like Klein. And here we are.

At the apex of newspaper publishing, Klein distributed 3,000 titles each month to more than 2,500 retailers and countless homes.  Little by little, though, clients reduced distribution or took their business elsewhere. The "digital future" isn't yet 100-percent embraced by readers, though, and there are still plenty of thick (but thinning) newspapers hitting local stores and homes each morning. 

Back in July of this year, Dow Jones (owner of Wall Street Journal and Barron’s) decided to move to the Plain Dealer Publishing Co. Klein, left with the New York Times and smaller papers, couldn’t go on with the loss of business. The PD also took on the actual printing work for the WSJ, which just further consolidates everything.

According to contracts with Teamsters Local 473, the jobs of 300 PD drivers are protected until 2017. That deal only came about after the paper cut dozens of union drivers’ jobs and replaced them by hiring part-time contractors. “We suspect that when they finally got rid of their unions, they were going to go after our business instinctively,” Kempton said. 

About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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