Nameplate for the Cleveland Press, circa 1978
|Owner(s)||Scripps-Howard; Joseph E. Cole|
|Editor||Joseph E. Cole|
|Headquarters||Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.|
Known for many years as one of the country's most influential newspapers for its focus on working class issues, its neighborhood orientation, its promotion of public service, and its editorial involvement in political campaigns at the state and local levels, the paper may best be remembered for its controversial role in the 1954 Sam Sheppard murder case.
The paper was founded by Edward W. Scripps as the Penny Press in 1878, a name that was shortened to the Press in 1884, before finally becoming the Cleveland Press in 1889. By the turn of the century, the Press had become Cleveland's leading daily newspaper, bypassing its main competitor, The Plain Dealer.
During the 1920s, the Press reached nearly 200,000 in circulation and stood out by proposing the city manager form of government for Cleveland, while also supporting Progressive candidate Robert M. La Follette, Sr. for president in 1924. Seltzer became the paper's 12th editor in 1928, and stressed the area's neighborhoods, promoting the slogan "The Newspaper That Serves Its Readers."
However, the Press was criticized for its role, led by editor-in-chief Louis B. Seltzer, in the conviction of Dr. Sam Sheppard in 1954 for the murder of his wife, Marilyn. A Federal judge stated, "If ever there was a trial by newspaper, this is a perfect example. And the most insidious example was the Cleveland Press. For some reason that newspaper took upon itself the role of accuser, judge and jury." The appeals process eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The paper's aggressive coverage that goaded local officials and potentially prejudiced the jury resulted in a ruling that pre-trial publicity had been injurious to Sheppard. It was a major reason why a new trial was ordered where Sheppard was acquitted in 1966.
In January 1960, the paper's owner, the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain, purchased Press rival the Cleveland News (also an afternoon paper) and merged it with the Press giving the city one afternoon newspaper under the Press banner. Four years later, the Press was named one of America's 10 best newspapers in a list compiled by Time magazine, but under Seltzer's successor, Thomas L. Boardman, the Press began a decline that was shared in general with other large afternoon dailies throughout the country.
The Press was passed in circulation by The Plain Dealer in 1968, and after Boardman's retirement in 1979, rumors began circulating that the Press would shortly suspend publication unless a buyer could be found. Scripps-Howard sold the paper on October 31, 1980, to Cleveland businessman Joseph E. Cole, who purchased the paper only after gaining concessions from the employee unions.
Cole introduced a Sunday edition on August 2, 1981, followed by a morning edition on March 22, 1982. However, a bad economy, coupled with losses in advertising resulted in the paper's closing just three months later.
The remnants of the paper live on in the Cleveland Press Collection at the Cleveland State University library. The collection consists of clippings and photographs from the newspaper's archives. Among the paper's foremost writers from the 1940s-1970s were Jack Ballantine and Dick Feagler.
- "CLEVELAND PRESS - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History". The Encyclopedia of Cleveland. A joint effort by Case Western University and the Western Reserve Historical Society. Last Modified - July 14, 1997. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- Neff, James (2001). The Wrong Man. New York: Random House. p. 230.
- Sheppard v. Maxwell, 384 U.S. 333, 358 (1964) (U.S. Supreme Court)
- "Cleveland News Bought by Scripps". UPI via The Miami News. January 24, 1960.
- David D. Van Tassel (Editor) and John J. Grabowski (Editor) (July 14, 1997). "Cleveland Press". The Encyclopedia Of Cleveland History. Cleveland, Ohio. ISBN 0-253-33056-4. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- Tidyman, John (2009). Gimme Rewrite, Sweetheart: Tales From the Last Glory Days of Cleveland Newspapers—Told By The Men and Women Who Reported the News. Cleveland, OH: Gray & Company, Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59851-016-4