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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CLEVELAND PRESS - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The CLEVELAND PRESS was the flagship of the communications chain founded by EDWARD W. SCRIPPS†. Five years after helping his brother James start the Detroit News, Scripps came to Cleveland, where he started the Penny Press on Frankfort St. on 2 Nov. 1878. A small, 4-page afternoon daily, it reflected Scripps's predilection for news condensation and announced its independence of party politics. Although Scripps relinquished personal direction of the Penny Press within 3 years, the paper continued to prosper. Its name was shortened to the Press in 1884, and it finally became the Cleveland Press in 1889. 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."

In the postwar period the Press continued its public service campaigns and remained an unrivaled force in Ohio politics, as demonstrated by its successful promotion of FRANK J. LAUSCHE† and Anthony J. Celebrezze as mayors of Cleveland, and the former as governor of Ohio. In 1954 the Press played an aggressive, controversial role in the prosecution of Dr. Sam Sheppard for the 4 July murder of his wife, Marilyn, in their Bay Village home (see SHEPPARD MURDER CASE). The Press maintained its preeminence in the city and state through Seltzer's retirement in 1966. It moved into a modern printing plant at Lakeside and E. 9th in 1959 and 1 year later purchased the CLEVELAND NEWS from the FOREST CITY PUBLISHING CO., merging it into the Press and thereby becoming the city's only surviving afternoon daily. In 1964 the Press was named one of America's 10 best newspapers in a list compiled by Time magazine. Under Seltzer's successor, Thos. L. Boardman, however, the Press began a decline that was shared in general with other large afternoon dailies throughout the country. Circulation was down to around 300,000, the Press having surrendered its lead to the morning PLAIN DEALER in 1968. Shortly after Boardman's retirement in 1979, rumors began circulating that the Press would shortly suspend, publication unless it could be sold. Scripps-Howard sold the paper on 31 Oct. 1980 to Cleveland businessman Joseph E. Cole, who had exacted concessions from 9 Press unions prior to the purchase. In an effort to restore the paper's competitive position, Cole introduced a Sunday edition on 2 Aug. 1981 and a morning edition on 22 Mar. 1982. Citing the depressed economy and consequent losses in advertising, however, Cole announced the paper's closing on 17 June 1982, and the final edition appeared that afternoon. The former Press plant was demolished to make room for the North Point office complex.

Cleveland Press Collection, CSU.

Last Modified: 14 Jul 1997 02:26:05 PM

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