Friday, November 16, 2018

Paging Through History

I recently saw an interview with a teacher who said she doesn’t use a textbook for a class that requires her students to employ critical thinking. “The newspaper is my textbook,” she said. I don’t know this woman, but I love her for that.

This is a tough time for newspapers. Their journalists are doing excellent work despite the obstacles presented by economics and a hostile president and administration.

I don’t know what the future holds for newspapers. But I do know you still have a couple of weeks to look back at their history in Cleveland. “When the News was New” is at Cleveland Public Library’s main branch until Nov. 30. The free exhibit celebrates 200 years of newspapers in the city.

The Plain Dealer, which first published in 1842, has been Cleveland’s only daily newspaper since The Press folded in 1982. Others came and went before that, including The Cleveland News, which was sold to The Press the year before I was born. I grew up reading The Plain Dealer and The Press because my parents subscribed to both. And I worked for The Plain Dealer as a copy editor when the climate for daily newspapers and journalism in general was much different.

Nothing documents historic events quite like a newspaper. Think about recent history here in Northeast Ohio. When the Cavs won the NBA championship in June 2016, cars were lined up outside the PD’s printing plant to get copies of the paper that documented that milestone. I'm sure that scene would have been repeated a few months later if the Indians had won the World Series. A printout or screen shot of a web page just doesn’t have the same impact as a newspaper.

Kudos to friends and former PD colleagues Dave Davis and Joan Mazzolini for their work in getting the exhibit into the library. And if you like this, you also would like “Plain Dealing: Cleveland Journalists Tell TheirStories,” the book Dave and Joan put together to celebrate the bicentennial of newspapering in Cleveland. The book, which you can download for free or buy as a paperback for $10, includes essays from former Plain Dealer reporters and other local journalists whose bylines PD readers will recognize. If you’re curious about what goes on (or went on) behind the scenes at a daily newspaper, you’ll want to read this.


  1. I love that teacher, too. The newspaper is a great textbook in getting students to employ critical thinking. What's better? And it's a wonderful source of history. It was 200 years ago that the first newspaper hit the streets of Cleveland, which then was a township of about 600 people. Still, they felt a need for a newpaper. Obviously, someone had someone to say. Molly Callahan, the author of this blog, was an important part of that history. It is something we should all cherish and from which to learn.

    1. Thank you so much, Dave. You were an important part of that history, too. And now you're sharing your knowledge through your book and with a new generation of journalists.They are lucky to have you showing them the way.


Your comment is awaiting moderation and will be posted after it has been approved.