Debra Adams Simmons steps down as Cleveland Plain Dealer editor

Debra Adams Simmons has resigned as Plain Dealer editor to become vice president of news development for Advance Local, a part of Plain Dealer parent Advance Publications.

Debra Adams Simmons

Debra Adams Simmons

The Plain Dealer reports: “She said that her new job — a new position in the company — would focus on producing the best possible journalism and recruiting the top journalists in the country.”

There will be a national search for her replacement.

* Plain Dealer editor is named to new Advance Local position (

Simmons’ memo:


It has been my great privilege to serve as editor and managing editor of The Plain Dealer these past seven years. An extraordinary group of journalists, you have masterfully narrated the Cleveland experience.

Your expertise and considerable talent has helped us hold power accountable, pull back the curtain on corruption, shine light on the failures to protect women, reflect the promise of a more vibrant city, celebrate our institutions and demand policy that improves the quality of life for everyone who calls Northeast Ohio home./CONTINUES

Your stories, pictures, illustrations and graphics, your precise copy editing and provocative design set a standard of daily excellence. There used to be a Jack Knight quote in a Beacon conference room that said: “There is no higher calling than editor.” Never has that been more true than it is today. I have been your biggest champion as I’ve pushed for deeper reporting and better writing. I worked hard to insure that our physical presence in Cleveland match our profound reach in this perfectly imperfect city.

I fought to preserve the things that make us great even as the journalism world shifts under our feet. I selected in Thom a managing editor who would be passionate about helping everyone in the newsroom produce their best work. Yes, we are more lean today. Yet, we are standing proud and tall. I have met thousands of people during the past several months who have all reiterated how vital we are to their daily lives. When there is a big story to be told in Cleveland, this community knows that no one can tell it like we can. Our authentic voice looms large.

I will continue to cheer you on in a new role as vice president for news development at Advance Local. My focus, among other things, will be on attracting talented people and producing excellent journalism across the company. I’m leaving home in a sense but will always be part of The Plain Dealer family. As John Legend says, “All of me loves all of you. Love your curves and all your edges…” I am honored and humbled to have spent the past four years as your editor.

Best regards,