Ohio news sounds familiar

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A review of some newspapers during an Easter weekend trip into Ohio reinforced the notion that key issues communities face today don't stop at state borders.

The April 1 edition of The Plain Dealer, which serves "more than 1.3 million readers in print and on cleveland.com weekly," had a front page story headlined "Internet cafes play the odds in divided Ohio." The first paragraph quickly brings the theme home: "For a state long perceived as adverse to gambling, Ohio sure has developed a taste for the taxes that gaming can produce."

The Plain Dealer, which sells for 75 cents on the newsstand, also had a page one story about the battle for viewers and personnel among local TV stations, the strong play and large word count of the article surprising in this day of media competition.

That day's edition for this large metropolitan area, by the way, was 30 pages. Your local News-Item on the same day? Twenty.

Meanwhile, The Columbus Dispatch on April 1 led with a story about school funding headlined "Lawmakers aren't near a resolution." The first paragraph again had language that sounds awfully familiar to what we experienced locally and throughout Pennsylvania over the past year: "Faced with an unpopular formula, a fast-approaching deadline, and an uncertain amount of money, Rep. Gerald Stebelton doubts a final school-funding plan can be crafted by the time the two-year state budget is approved."

Another page one story was titled "Vibrant rebirth" and discussed the Columbus-based Ohio State University's initiative to revive a rundown district and how that effort is spreading to other neighborhoods. Certainly we don't have the benefit of a world-renowned university, but the notion of ridding a community of "a string of dilapidated buildings (and) vacant storefronts" certainly rings familiar.

The Dispatch, with a newsstand price of $1, was 58 pages, although in tabloid size.

Interestingly enough, the Dispatch and its new size was the cover story of the APME (Associated Press Media Editors) News spring 2013 issue that landed on my desk this week. It tells how the Dispatch "charted a new course by offering readers a smaller canvas, but adding more content, sections and superior story packaging." I don't disagree on the look and content, especially for a metro publication.

Furthering the coincidence of coming across these two Ohio newspapers, The Plain Dealer was the focus of a story from trade magazine Editor & Publisher's online story offerings Thursday. The newspaper announced the same day that it will continue to publish in print and online seven days a week, but will be delivered to homes just three days a week, including Sundays. The paper will continue to be available "daily at thousands of locations" and an electronic edition of the newspaper also will be available daily.

The News-Item, I'll point out, also offers a daily e-edition (visit newsitem.com for information on subscribing), but, of course, you can still get the paper delivered to your home seven days a week.

(Andy Heintzelman, editor of The News-Item, writes "The Week In News" for each Saturday edition.)

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