On July 31, 2013, after the layoff calls came, some of the current and now-former staff of The Plain Dealer got together for drinks at Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland. Newsrooms around the country called in and bought drinks for those gathered — $4,933 worth of drinks, Eric Sandy reported the next day for Cleveland Scene.
That day, more than 50 people had been laid off from The Plain Dealer.
“We drank for free all night,” John Horton remembered.
“It was bittersweet because we were together, we were supporting each other but we knew that so many of us, myself included, were not going to be going back to the building ever again,” Ellen Kleinerman said.
Kleinerman and Horton were there. So were Donald Rosenberg and John Mangels. One guy, Harlan Spector remembers, drove up from Pittsburgh just to lend a shoulder if needed. “It’s so touching that somebody would feel compelled to do that,” he said.
“It was strange, I guess it was sort of like a wake in a way, but everybody was very compassionate about everyone else’s situation,” Rosenberg, who covered arts and wine for the paper, said. “The people that survived were very empathetic of the people who were leaving. The people who were leaving were very concerned about what was going to happen next.”
“Our emotions were pretty raw, as you can imagine,” Mangels said. Although he said the night was “a bit of a blur, unfortunately,” he, too, remembers that it “felt like a wake,” but also a graduation. And more notable: “We didn’t talk shop, which was the normal topic when journalists gather. We talked about ourselves and our families, our fears and hopes for the future. I remember talking to one of the graphic artists, a talented guy who was hoping to reinvent himself as a long-haul trucker.”