Event Recap - Sabrina Eaton, October 1, 2018

Meeting with The Plain Dealer's Sabrina Eaton on October 1, 2018

Sabrina Eaton met with the Cleveland Club on October 1, 2018 at the offices of Baker Hostetler on Connecticut Avenue in downtown Washington, DC.

Sabrina Eaton discusses media in the Schweitzer Room of Baker Hostetler.

Sabrina Eaton discusses media in the Schweitzer Room of Baker Hostetler.

Ms. Eaton has been reporting for The Plain Dealer and its cleveland.com Internet arm since 1990. She initially worked for The Plain Dealer, but was transferred to its non-union web-based division with the rest of its politics team after the company split the newsroom in two. (When an attendee observed the business section was running fewer articles, she said the reason might be that business reporters were still part of The Plain Dealer print division).

Ms. Eaton explained that cleveland.com tracks the number of “clicks” reporters' stories receive and sets “click” goals for reporters. She said click measurements help reporters and editors gauge which online stories are being read, reporters and editors having always wanted to know which stories were getting the most attention. She said that photographs and videos attract more readers and clicks and that more readers are using their mobile phones to read the news.

Trends in the media that worry Ms. Eaton include: consolidation of media companies; labeling reliable news sources as publishing "fake news;" readers tending to confine their reading to stories that reinforce rather than challenge their beliefs; bloggers who write for clicks (and thus for money) and who deliberately publish falsehoods to attract clicks; and the demise – because of cost-cutting – of copy editors and headline writers.

On a more positive note, Ms. Eaton said she believes that mainstream media, including ThePlain Dealer and cleveland.com, have been doing a good job upholding rigorous journalistic standards and can be relied upon for factual and balanced stories.