The Cleveland Leader

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The Cleveland Leader
Available in English
Owner Cleveland Media Group LLC
Created by Julie Kent and Eugene McCormick
Website www.clevelandleader.com
Commercial Yes
Launched July 4, 2006; 10 years ago (2006-07-04)

The Cleveland Leader was an online Cleveland-based news publication focused on covering Cleveland news, culture, and events, and other national and international interest stories.

History 1854-1917[edit]

Newspaper

The Cleveland Leader was first created in 1854 by Edwin Cowles, who merged a variety of abolitionist, pre-Republican Party titles under the Leader. From a program celebrating the opening of the Leader Building in 1913, "In 1847 an anti-slavery Whig paper which had been published for about a year in Olmsted Falls, now, as then, a small village, was moved to Cleveland and changed from a weekly to a daily, retaining the name of "True. Democrat." That event is commonly reckoned the beginning of the Cleveland Leader..."[1]

The Leader's initial editorial bias was reflective of the anti-bellum period in Ohio; pro-Union, anti-slavery, but also according to several sources, virulently anti-Catholic. The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History notes, "Cowles was as outspoken a nativist as he was a Republican, heading the Cleveland chapter of the anti-Catholic Order of the American Union, and carrying on an editorial war with Manly Tello, editor of the Catholic Universe."[2]

The Leader was explicitly political from its founding. Cowles' March 5, 1890 New York Times obituary claims, "In the Winder of 1854-5 the germ of the Republican Party (United States) was formed in the Leader editorial rooms as a meeting was held there which resulted in the first Republican Convention, which was held at Pittsburg. Col. R. C. Parsons, Joseph Medill, John C. Vaughn, Judge R. P. Spaulding, and J. F. Keeler, were at the meeting, which resulted in the consolidation of the Know-Nothing, Whig Party (United States), and Free Soil Parties into the Republican Party."[3] The claim in the obituary may be mere puffery, as the GOP's Wikipedia page claims the first Republican convention was held in Jackson, Michigan, not Pittsburgh.

The Leader quickly became the most influential newspaper in Ohio. "By 1875 its circulation of 13,000 was double that of the Herald and 5 times that of the Plain Dealer. Cowles kept the paper technologically up to date, importing Cleveland's first perfecting press in 1877 and pioneering the use of electrotype plates in Ohio."[4]

After Cowles' 1890 death, the Leader began a swift decline, as competition from the Plain Dealer and other newspapers took advantage of the huge void left by Cowles personal control. Many examples of the Leader's poster art from the period immediately after Cowles' death in the 1890s are included in a collection at the New York Public Library as some of the finest examples of late Victorian American poster art.[5] Despite the marketing efforts, the Leader continued its decline. Charles Otis began a consolidation of local newspapers with the Cleveland World in 1904, and the Leader in 1905. Through Otis, ownership of the Leader passed through various hands in the famous Hanna family, via Marcus Hanna's son-in-law Medill McCormick, married to Ruth Hanna McCormick, then to Daniel R. Hanna,[6] Marcus Hanna's son.[7] By 1917, the Leader had been sold to the Plain Dealer, just four years after moving into the Leader Building in 1913.

Online publication[edit]

The Plain Dealer allowed the copyright on the Leader to lapse. As the Ohio blogosphere began to grow in the early 21st century, the name "Cleveland Leader" was used for a new website. It want online on July 4, 2006 by Julie Kent and Eugene McCormick, and operated as an online news source for Cleveland. The site purportedly never turned a profit, and ceased operations in 2016. A visit to the ClevelandLeader.com website on March 12, 2016, showed only a single graphic and showed the following text: "Founded on July 4, 2006, The Cleveland Leader was founded to provide an independent source of news to northeast Ohio, one without an agenda or ties to corporate overlords. For over nine years, we have provided the region with unique coverage and have changed the conversation in Cleveland media. This effort has come at a great personal cost, one that we can no longer afford to sustain. Clevelandleader.com has not turned a profit in many months, and costs more to maintain than it brings in. As such, we're calling it a day.... For now."

References[edit]