WSJ: Might Make Sense to Shutter DMN

In a story this morning about Tribune Co. filing for Chapter 11 (local hedge fund Highland Capital had $200 million in the company), there appeared the following two graphs:

Fitch analyst Mike Simonton said more worrisome than the number of newspaper publishers in default is the fact that some, including A.H. Belo Corp. and Sun-Times Media Group, are unprofitable on a cash-flow basis, and aren’t in a position to service debt.

“That should raise red flags,” Mr. Simonton said, adding that newspapers can no longer offset revenue declines with cost cuts. “Closing some of them down as a loss-avoidance strategy may make more sense.” [Ed: that’s the print version; the online version is a bit different.]

I have to say that while we’ve been discussing A.H. Belo’s balance sheet and how bad it looks, I’ve been thinking that surely we are overlooking something, some part of the equation that makes the situation for the News look less dire. Reading those words in the Journal — “Closing some of them down as a loss-avoidance strategy may make more sense.” — was shocking. So what will Dallas look like without the Dallas Morning News? It now seems a fair question.

Newsletter

Get a weekly recap in your inbox every Sunday of our best stories from the week plus a primer for the days ahead.

Find It

Search our directories for...

Restaurants

Restaurants

Bars

Bars

Events

Events

Attractions

Attractions

View All

View All

Comments

56 responses to “WSJ: Might Make Sense to Shutter DMN

  1. Ink-Stained Wreck says:

    Read Page 7D in today’s DMN. I guess Big Bob is hoping the News will stay around for a while.

  2. Dart thrower says:

    I’m going to miss the paper when it is gone.

  3. Buck says:

    I can imagine a DFW Star-Telegram with combined sports and features, but a zoned Dallas metro section and editorial page.

    But I can’t imagine how the Star-Telegram could print it and deliver it all the way from south FW.

  4. Rawlins Gilliland says:

    God knows this thread might well launch an avalanche of anti Belo/DMN posts…but I hope not. The thought of Dallas losing its newspaper is unthinkable……not because it is a holy grid but because it matters. The American newspaper formats as are current may not be the gold standard for this century, but the mission to impart news and opinion in a tactile manner remains valid to many and being dispersed in a mega realm is more important now than ever. Because the ‘news’ today is complex beyond imagination, and information more valuable than we know, how can losing a central nerve center like our city’s newspaper not be sickening?

    Personally, as someone who has written no few columns for the News…and the son of a DMN working pro mother….who has written for many of its editors, including Dreher, I feel nauseas even thinking how so many people who work so hard and care so much could collectively feel so threatened in this dreadful financial climate’s season. I have no answers for the problems, but I believe with all my heart that the DMN matters. (For that matter so does FW’s paper which has some seriously gifted people like Andrew Marton). I also know that subscribing to the newspaper has become prohibitively expensive. I was shocked when I renewed last. What to do? That is every day’s new world order mantra.

  5. St. Benedictine says:

    “What will Dallas look like without the Dallas Morning News?”

    Well, for one thing, the Frontburner — and almost all area talk radio programs, including sports and politics — will have to find some other source for 75 percent of their postings.

  6. Idunno says:

    Where do I get crossword methadone if they shutter?

  7. Grant says:

    Why not just stop printing the paper completely and go strictly online?

    News gathering will always exist. Someone will always be able to make money in journalism.

    If the paper is going to fail, which seems destined to at some point, why not use it as an experiment for the rest of the publishing world? A major US daily going strictly web. Someone has to do it sooner or later to see if it can save the industry.

    Stop printing papers and eliminate the cost of ink, newsprint, plant labor and delivery truck drivers. More people lose their jobs, but isn’t that already happening?

    Drop the ‘Morning’ and just be Dallas News. Start publishing on the Kindle. Subsidize purchases (just like cell phone companies) with a subscription for 2 years to the electronic version of the paper.

  8. John M says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me if that happened to see a twice weekly or even more frequent Dallas Observer.

  9. Tom says:

    It’s not a matter of if daily newspapers will go from print and Web to Web-only. It’s a matter of when.

  10. Rawlins says:

    Last night I was a bar talking with a 40s gen Xer someone who both likes holding a ‘paper’ to read (which I recall Tim saying long ago) but not liking the unwieldy news as it is, or the time required of traditional papers…pointing to how he now has kids. (This in fact was Seth, owner of Lee Harvey’s). But he said that if his printer at home auto-printed like say a 10 page synopsis snapshot of the news……. like the briefings he recalls in political circles. I of course talked about the ‘green’ waste of either format, and he correctly I think talked about those second tier issues being worked out by others afterward…like auto recycling, whatever. Point is, that online only is not the answer for one demographic but the current model of big paper in the driveway is doomed.

  11. St. Benedictine says:

    The problem with going web-only — the eager, triumphalist suggestion that’s always made from internet folk who’ve never run a newspaper — is that the webside on most papers isn’t even paying for itself, let alone covering the larger staff that a daily newspaper has typically needed to do the work that it does. The work that no one else really does with the same depth or range or consistency, all in one outlet. The school board investigations, the local arts coverage, the political ins and outs: You know, the things that the Frontburner regularly quotes from and/or snipes at.

    After all, why doesn’t D magazine go web-only? Because, I bet, at the moment it’s not financially feasible, and just the suggestion should send a few chills down the spines of the already reduced D staff.

  12. The Omniscient Narrator says:

    There are three other papers that A.H. Belo would shutter before it close The News.

  13. Gwyon says:

    There will always be a place for quality print newspapers. The format will continuously adapt, but they’ll always be around. I think the biggest challenge facing newspapers today is choosing content. And I think many of them are making horrible business decisions in that regard.

  14. Bethany says:

    Rawlins – wouldn’t the closest equivalent to that be Amazon’s Kindle? You get the paper delivered to a device, then you read it, and delete it. No waste.

    Yes, it’s a little pricey, but in a perusal of what newspapers offer Kindle subscriptions, I was surprised to see how many major metro and national newspapers have jumped on board, and not surprised that the DMN – nor the Star Telegram – have not.

  15. Grant says:

    “After all, why doesn’t D magazine go web-only? Because, I bet, at the moment it’s not financially feasible, and just the suggestion should send a few chills down the spines of the already reduced D staff.”

    And magazines have a longer shelf life than this morning’s DMN. Do you keep copies of the DMN laying on the coffee table for a few weeks just in case you want to go back and read a preview of last week’s Cowboys’ game? No. You read a magazine over the course of a few weeks, not in 30 minutes.

    “Let alone covering the larger staff that a daily newspaper has typically needed to do the work that it does”

    By going Web-only you could eliminate SEVERAL of those positions, photographers, copy editors, folks late night at the desk etc.

    The thing is now reporters HAVE to be trained in a variety of disciplines, including content delivery on the web.

    It used to be to have a news story you had to dispatch the reporter to go cover the scene, and then there was the photographer to get the photo.

    The reporter transmits his story back to the editor who reads it, lays it out on the page, copy editor reviews it, sends it back to the editor

    T photog sends his images to the photo editor etc.

    The problem is many editors and execs now would rather be scooped completely than have even a shred of a mistake in a story. I’ve seen this before in newspapers. They even wait to release info on the web, even in the presence of the edit button for their content.

    Why can’t a reporter can go to the scene take photos and video himself and upload the story, images, and video from the scene to the web? Flickr and YouTube have proven that you don’t have to be a professional photographer or videographer to shoot decent images. Laptops, wireless cards and digital cameras make this almost a breeze now.

    Because he is a trained journalist, he should be able to do it better than any local yokel posting it to his neighborhood blog too.

    That eliminates steps and costs making the news more timely and more cost-effective to deliver.

    The problem with newspapers is they think they have to have these humongous staffs to accomplish their goals. There is a need to trim down the staff and hire only the most efficient and multi-disciplined new media staff members. A reporter should be able to report now beyond going to the scene with a notebook and pen.

    If you can train a reporter to write solid copy that requires only the smallest edits before it goes online and that reporter can shoot photos and video that he can crop and publish without the assistance of others, he’s done the job of five people.

  16. Bethany says:

    Grant, before I went to the DMN, I worked in community newspapers. At one, I did everything from writing the stories, shooting the pictures, designing the page and ads to circulation and bookkeeping.

    Then I came to the DMN, where all I was required to do was write, shoot occasionally, and edit. I literally had too much time on my hands.

    So yeah, I do see where people could wear more hats. Some already have seen that, and do – like Dave Levinthal, etc. Then you had folks that were even resistant to blogging.

  17. Brian Barnaud says:

    I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard “Flickr and YouTube have proven that you don’t have to be a professional photographer or videographer to shoot decent images.”

    Thats not the way it works, its not at all true and if thats were we are going, than I bet there are a lot of pros that we wont need anymore soon. lawyers,doctors, writers, designers, construction workers, cops.
    and for photojournalist, anybody CAN pick up a camera and shoot something in front of there face. thats a given. But can they take a moment of time, all the time and do it everyday. work there butt off, slave away for rewards mostly in the soul and keep some sense of the real and true creed that honest journalist have to be trained in?
    I cant wait for the future to be just one big TMZ. ( although I like to watch;) )

  18. Christy Robinson says:

    “Why can’t a reporter can go to the scene take photos and video himself and upload the story, images, and video from the scene to the web?”

    Grant — have you ever actually DONE this? Gone to the scene of ANYTHING, much less to triple-task while there? Your diatribe-slash-prescription would be feasible in some instances, like concert reviews, but not for the majority of news gathering. Especially where quality is called for.

  19. Former DMNer says:

    What will Dallas look like without the Dallas Morning News?

    A place where DISD employees routinely use their credit cards for personal items, where Ruben Buhochut remains DISD’s technology manager and continues to ride the Sir Veza fishing yacht with district vendors, where TYC employees are free to sexually abuse kids in their care, where murderers continue to go free on probation, where people imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit remain imprisoned, where emotional stories like those Sallie Stratton, Yolanda Torres and Mary Ellen Bendsten remain untold.

  20. Bill Marvel says:

    Dashing out to cover breaking news is only one thing good daily newspapers do. And probably not the most important thing, at that. Other media do it better, faster.
    Good dailies cover the news, in the full sense of the word “cover.” They provide context and depth, explain, enlighten.
    Here’s a thought experiment: Imagine that all dailies disappeared instantly. Where would web sites get their news? Almost none have full- or even part-time reporting staffs. They’re either surfing newspaper websites — which, in turn, depend upon the print staff — or they’re reading the print versions.
    Those who have been urging papers to go all-web haven’t got a clue about how the news business works, and their urgings grow in proportion to their ignorance. Reporting staffs — and in this I include copy editors and photographers, those Grant so cavalierly dismisses — are very expensive, because they bring a high level of skill to their jobs. (Want to find out what happens to language when it doesn’t pass under the scrutiny of a copy editor? Read almost any blog.) They have to be able to think deeply and write clearly. No web operation now, or in the foreseeable future, will be able to support such a staff.
    Observer go twice weekly? Where is the money for that going to come from? Is Wick going to hire a full time City Hall reporter, an education writer, somebody to cover the Legislature?
    So, is it asking too much for those who so glibly pronounce on the fate of the print media to first take the time to inform themselves? And second, and more importantly, to give a little thought to the subject before go barking into the night?

  21. Brian Barnaud says:

    one last thing, then I shut up. I worked as a photographer for many years at the news in the late 80’s I was lucky to only have to work as a studio photog. almost never having to shoot hard news. But, I did see the hard toll it took to be a reporter or Photojournalist. I saw the toll it took on one talent, that, covering stories on the homeless, spent the night in an equipment closet to be ready to go at all times. Reporters and photographers who had to witness the horrors of an airplane crash so much that they didnt want to get on a plane again. A photographer and a writer shaken forever after covering a fiery crash with many victims. My boss, when I first started, shielding me from negatives I was editing from the Mexico city earthquake that had body parts. (it turned out to be store mannequins)
    but most of all, I remember printing photos for a photographer allowed to shoot the first heart transplant in Dallas. I most remember a team winning the Pulitzer about the anatomy of an aviation accident. That took a photographer or two, a designer and an illustrator and tons of reporters, and it was greatness.
    Blogs and self journalism has its place. But talent working all the time, well it would be missed.

  22. Grant says:

    @Christy

    I ran a Rivals.com site at the University of Mississippi for five years. I went to games, practices, press conferences. There I wrote copy, shot photos/video and edited too. It wouldn’t win any APSE awards, but it generated staggering traffic numbers to my site. It was stressful, but I learned how to do it. I gave my readers what they needed to know first with a quick photo to illustrate the practice or game. Then I set to work writing the copy, followed by the photos and sometimes video. Without the hassle of a print deadline I was able to work later and still beat my print counterparts. When Sunday rolled around (after a Saturday football game) I was again a step ahead of them with more fresh content.

    When there was breaking news – arrested player, coaching search – my site was the go to source. I could get information online faster than any of my competition.

    Again, I never won an award for my writing, but it paid the bills.

    @Brian

    There will always be room for the best photographers in the world. Having had the opportunity to assist Bill Frakes on a photo shoot once there is no one in the world who can do what he does. Whether in print or online, what he does can not be replicated.

    My example focuses on the mundane news story that is repeated hundreds of times a year in major metro areas. The house fire, the car accident, the boring City Hall announcement of this center or that center. That’s where the reporter can shoot his own photos.

    Still, if you haven’t really sought out the best of the best on Flickr, you should. There are some weekend warriors out there who shoot some amazing images.

  23. Peterk says:

    there is a problem with going web-only, you need to make sure that folks can find the articles they want to read. Right now I still receive my local paper in ODT format. If I want to save an article from it I go to the web and save the article from the website.
    The DMN’s search engine is totally useless. The cost of retrieving an article from the archives is outrageous. Haven’t they heard of the Long Tail

    there will always be a need for an ODT version. Maybe they need to rethink what type of stories they print. They can’t report on everything that happens in the neighborhoods.

    And yes they are going to have to expand their web presence because there are folks like me who read it even though we don’t live in the ODT circ zone

  24. amandacobra says:

    I don’t see a world in the near future where there is no printed form of any and all newspapers. But I can totally see a future where there is no printed DMN. If I ask myself how I would like to receive my news, I think that my ideal scenario would be a daily web-based local source. There’s plenty of local news (Frisco bond issues, allowing dogs on restaurant patios in Arlington) that doesn’t affect me or interest me in any way. Hence why I stopped my weekday DMN. I can check any of the four or five local news sources I prefer online to choose which articles interest me.

    Then on the weekends, I like to sit down and read a printed paper. I would be fine with The New York Times being my weekend paper. Let’s face it, if there is some local news of tremendous importance or a tornado coming, you aren’t learning of it from the DMN. School board investigations and local features, sure. But those can be read and followed online easier (as in, if you missed yesterday’s paper vs. just clicking on “Part 1” or whatever).

    The New York Times or similar papers provide a much wider spectrum of news from around the world and I prefer digging into it rather than sifting through three sections of Pulte Home ads for houses in planned communities in cities I don’t intend on moving to.

    I would miss the coupons though. So many coupons.

  25. Ink-Stained Wreck says:

    I’m certain that your site was a hit, Grant, but don’t confuse that with journalism. That’s at best a diary and at worst it’s hagiography. You may not have known it, but you were there at the forebearance of a coach, and if you hadn’t written what you were told, you wouldn’t have been there very long. If, for instance, the star running back had twisted a knee and had to be helped off the field, I can’t imagine you would have been allowed to write that. Besides, if you go back into the memory bank you’re bound to remember when you saw or heard something juicy and you were either told ‘Don’t write that,’ or you were smart enough on your own to know you’d NEVER write that. You sound pretty smart, so I would imagine it was the latter.

  26. Grant says:

    @ink-stained wreck

    Fair enough in that I knew who my audience was.

    Still, I never didn’t write something because a coach told me so, and had I been barred from practice for something I wrote I would have filed a lawsuit. If someone would have mailed me photos of the coach passing $100 bills to a recruit, I would have published them.

    While some of the Rivalsesque sites have a reputation for being homer mouthpieces, mine wasn’t. I did my fair share of digging through court documents, attending court appearances, staking out airports during a coaching search and more. There was plenty of fluff, it was college sports, but overall I stayed true to my journalism training from college.

    Also, I didn’t mean to come across as saying ‘fire the copy editors’ but rather that no print deadlines=few copy editors needed and they could do their jobs on a rolling basis for the web.

  27. ScurvyOaks says:

    A lot of stories take a lot of reporter time, and that costs a lot of money. I tend to agree with “St. Benedictine,” whoever that might be. 😉

    As a start, DMN should stop printing national and international news entirely. Metro, State of Texas, sports and regional business coverage are the areas of strength. Why in the world use newsprint, AP fees, and editor time to print cut-and-past wire stories? I can’t imagine anybody actually relies on that crap to learn about national news.

  28. ScurvyOaks says:

    “paste,” not “past.” (Had to lay off my proofreader.)

  29. Peterk says:

    maybe something like this could increase the activity on the DMN website
    http://www.stinkyjournalism.org/editordetail.php?id=222

    “Good dailies cover the news, in the full sense of the word “cover.” They provide context and depth, explain, enlighten.”

    but unfortunately much of that context and depth is missing or is colored by bias today. If you are going to do indepth coverage make sure you do that, don’t put in opinion

    “Here’s a thought experiment: Imagine that all dailies disappeared instantly. Where would web sites get their news? Almost none have full- or even part-time reporting staffs. They’re either surfing newspaper websites – which, in turn, depend upon the print staff – or they’re reading the print versions.”

    BillM you’re conflating two things blogs and news websites. If the newsprint side goes down you transfer to the reporters to the web presence. Yes bloggers do surf newspaper websites, but in many cases they also start to dig into things that maybe the local ODT doesn’t want to do. Take a look at the Dan Rather case. Bloggers broke that open, not the ODT press. Bloggers receive tips just like regular news orgs.

    the problem is folks are looking at this as an either/or proposition. The News media especially newspapers need to reinvent themselves. We will have an ODT version for quite sometime as not everything transfers to the web very well. A two page full color spread doesn’t look as good on a 15 inch screen as well as it does on paper.

    Use the newsprint to drive your readers to the website. My local paper already does that. they tell readers go to the website for breaking news,etc. recognize that the ODT version is a snapshot in time, while the digital version is much more fluid

  30. amandacobra says:

    To clarify my point, I am not saying “just shutter DMN and I can read everything online” because I understand that the online sources I read are either the web version of the DMN or sites that use the DMN as a primary source. I am just agreeing with what some others have said about the DMN cutting back staff and going web-only which, it would seem, would save a few bucks.

    I do find the statement “I’m sure your site was a hit but don’t confuse that with journalism” a little condescending. He says that he applied his journalism training to the coverage his coverage on his site. J school training, breaking stories, covering press conferences and coach scouting…sounds like journalism to me. How is that less journalism-y than your typical cub sports reporter for a college paper? In fact, it seems like the college paper writer would have to answer to a lot more people and have a lot more motivation to sit on a controversial story than the blogger.

  31. Ed says:

    You media types, though necessary, are like a thinktank of economists; many ideas from a perspective based little in reality but much in idealism. It’s simple if those in charge utilitze their assets wisely and provide that which is desired. Who buys the DMN? Why? Who reads the DMN? Why? Find out and adjust accordingly.

  32. R says:

    All you people advocating web only publishing obviously have no idea how little money that brings in…

    According to the AH Belo 3Q 2008 earnings conference call, online revenues totaled 7.4% of AH Belo’s total revenue for the quarter.

    Here’s the link if you’d care to read it…
    http://seekingalpha.com/article/103361-a-h-belo-corporation-q3-2008-earnings-call-transcript?page=3

    To think you’d be able to support the level of content with just online advertising is a joke.

  33. JD says:

    forget about the method of delivery. lost in the thread is a very basic fact: this product isn’t very good any more. the dmn long ago forsook any in-depth coverage of dallas city hall, dallas independent school district, the dallas area rapid transit authority and all of the other very important, very local entities that feed at the public trough. the fourth estate has an important place in the lives of the city and inhabitants only when the coverage of the entities and players is in depth, fairly reported and editorialized only on the editorial page – not in the reporting. otherwise the product is shilling to the rich and powerful (and wanna-be powerful) and manipulating the reporting (facts) to suit the highest bidder. how does one take a daily product routinely scooped by a weekly product seriously?
    the owner abandoned any pretense of editorial independence long ago, ran off the people that could have built and maintained the relationships in the afore-mentioned public entities that would have mattered, then shrugged off the resulting disappointing product (and revenues) with indifference.
    whether the current rag is delivered via pulp or electrons is a moot point. it is content-free, and has been for quite a while.

  34. Bill Marvel says:

    Fine, Ed. What do you desire? What are you willing to pay for it? What do other folks desire? How do you know this? Are you willing to gamble your livelihood that you’ve guessed correctly? Would it be a wiser use of assets to give them accurate and in-depth coverage of local government, news that may be unpleasant but important? Or to stream show-biz and celebrity gossip 24/7? How do you know this?
    How do they want whatever it is you’re going to give them delivered? How will they want it delivered three years from now? Where will you get the money to provide this? From the readers, or from advertisers? What if readers want one thing, advertisers another? How will you know this?
    I eagerly await your answers, Ed.

  35. AK says:

    I agree with JD — the News isn’t the product it used to be. If the DMN shut its doors, I don’t think that’d be the end of newspapers in Dallas. I think it’d be a spectacular opportunity for a new era in newspapers in Dallas. I modern, agile company with a slimmer, hungrier staff that returns to reporting news instead of trying to make news. I’d love to see a competitor to the DMN try to rise up. Of course, delivery and printing can be a challenge for an upstart… but I’d still love to see it.

  36. Robert Dobalina says:

    My God, for a post that should be generating comments mostly from members of the Fourth Estate, this one sure has brought out the grammatical and spelling errors.

  37. Bill Marvel says:

    Robert –
    Which is why we need copy editors.

  38. Brian Barnaud says:

    i miss copy editors…

  39. Bethany says:

    I don’t think the general pubic notices the lack of copy editors.

  40. St. Benedictine says:

    Grant:

    You obviously haven’t been sued for printing a story that a big company or politician objected to. it might make you cautious, more cautious than all the eager, overworked photo-reporter-bloggers you champion. Why aren’t the photo-reporter-bloggers cautious, too? Because they have no money, so no one’s going to sue them.

    I don’t agree with that caution, and I don’t think the caution justifies the layer upon layer of typically useless management at newspapers. But I can understand getting a little gunshy when you’re the Big Media Source everyone’s depending on to Get It Right.

    As for all those who claim the DMN is a ghost of what it was: Agreed. But how much of that has come from all the cutbacks in the past 8 years or so? Basically, the cutbacks that have happened since the dotcom bust dried up a lot of computer company advertisting and websites like eBay and craiglist took hold, sucking up the classified ads.

    As for Bethany: The general public doesn’t notice a lot of things until the unintended consequences hit. Regular book readers can tell you they’ve seen a decline in quality in books the past decade or so — full of typos, mistakes, writing bloated from lack of editing.

  41. MG says:

    The general public has us well on our way to electing President Camacho and watching endless loops of the Ow! My Balls! Guy.

  42. Bethany says:

    *sigh* See? Nobody noticed.

    Anyway, judging from the nearly 100 comments, would the DMN instantly rebound in popularity if they hired Russ Martin to write the front page story every day?

  43. Brandolon says:

    This is an interesting discussion. It reminds me of a conversation reported on by Thomas Friedman in “The World is Flat”. He interviews a photographer who’s been in the business for decades. All of a sudden he was having trouble making ends meat because of the young & hungry college grads who come out of school ready and willing to do everything in one sitting and with one device that he had set up an entire buiness to do. They took the photos, edited the photos, planned the shoots, printed the photos, mailed the photos. He was consistently telling customers that he did one thing, and that they’d have to contract with someone else to do some of the bells and whistles. In the end he was forced to wear multiple hats, to go digital, and diversify the services he offered just to stay afloat.

    In my mind that conflict mirrors the battle being waged between blogging/citizen journalism and traditional news print. I think Grant hit the nail on the head with the comment that reporters are going to have to learn to do it all, just like everyone else in every other industry is having to do. It’s not a matter of the true level or artistry inherent in true photojournalism. It’s a matter of cost. Having 10 people do a job that 1 person can do (even if with difficulty and even if individually those jobs are not done to the level of mastery) is simply not cost effective. That is the bare minimum change that current technology demands. If there’s even an argument over accepting this…newspapers truly are doomed.

    This is what technology does. Instead of 20 guys to move a rock you just need 1 guy and a lever…the other 19 people are out of the job. The one guy left has to do more planning as to where he’ll put the rock and inherently take on more responsibility for its final position. He might have to work just as hard or a little harder, but in return he’ll be getting more done than it was ever thought possible for one person to accomplish. That’s why technology exists…Going online only would not be sufficient at the moment, but cutting staff and hiring people that can do “everything” even if not each thing is done quite as well…seems to me like the only logical step.

  44. Brandolon says:

    And I say that fully cognizant of the fact that these are real people’s jobs. The DMN does need to survive in some form though. It it important to this community, even if I’m not the biggest fan.

  45. publicnewssense says:

    The corporation has lost sight of the mission. It is the corporation that needs to go away, not the newspaper.

  46. Anne says:

    The News is a shadow of its former self because it has lost several hundred journalists from its ranks. The region continues to grow, and the newspaper continues to shrink. But to say it doesn’t do any good work is stupid. Just look at its reporting on DISD and the dozens of stories it broke. Its business coverage, although less than what it used to be, is still very good. Its Dallas city hall coverage is excellent, as is its sports coverage. You can’t do more with less, but there’s still good work being done there, and it’s difficult to imagine this city somehow being better off with the Morning News gone or even more severely degraded.

  47. Darr says:

    The DMN is not a destination anymore. I used to plan my day around the Sunday paper but now it is so pathetic! There is a demand for the big paper in the yard, but it’s got to be good product and content, the DMN does not get it!
    I’m a sports fan but Sportsday is awful and not worth the bother. The egos at Belo deserve this tho I feel for the journalists and I’m gonna miss good local news. Wish my Spanish was better as it seems those TV channels really cover things locally.

  48. Kent Fischer says:

    “R” is right: “All you people advocating web only publishing obviously have no idea how little money that brings in…”

    I cover DISD for the DMN. When DISD fired hundreds of teachers recently, our coverage on our DISD blog topped 160,000 page views at the height of the crisis. For a niche blog, those are outstanding weekly numbers.

    Tawnell Hobbs and I each worked like crazy that week, easily logging 100 working hours between the two of us. The effort caught the attention of several new media types who cited it as one of the best examples anywhere of how reporters should function in the digital world. (ex: http://www.newsless.org/2008/12/beat-blogging-101/)

    Yet … because the DMN generates about $3.50 in online ad revenue for every 1,000 page views, it’s fair to say that our on-line reporting during the crisis brought in about $560 in weekly advertising revenue —- which works out to roughly $5.60 an hour, for two reporters.

    I love journalism, and I hope to do it for years to come. But $2.80 an hour is laughable. Online doesn’t come close to paying the bills.

  49. barbara davidson says:

    Why would it even surprise you that the DMN may have to close its doors? Most of you who left a posting here don’t even subscribe to the paper. That is one of the problems facing the DMN. If you love it so, and dont want it to evaporate from your community,subscribe to it. It will help in some small way. b

  50. Dane says:

    Barbara, Belo has so ground down the DMN product that it’s not worth a subscription.

    Decherd will be riding this one right into the ground. He’s the Rick Waggoner of local media.

  51. Bethany says:

    Online doesn’t come close – because we’re approaching the thought with the same circumstances we have now. Sure, it’s not gonna make money now – content is given away, and there are many different ways to get the same information for free.

    Not until someone comes up with a way to aggregate content in a subscription form – much like you do with your DirecTV – will an online-only scenario work. Pegasus News comes the closest to that idea now.

    But if you could go to a Web site, pick what you wanted to see on your front page of that site every day, then sure, eventually it could potentially become profitable. Especially if you did an online daily, and then a print monthly or weekly, perhaps.

    But everyone would have to think outside the box, and not be so quick to shoot the idea down.

  52. Billy says:

    DMN is not going away. Belo might go broke in this downturn, but the DMN would survive with new owners and management (Wick?). I can’t say the same for some of Belo’s other newspapers. Sadly, I’m looking at you Press-Enterprise.

    Belo didn’t break out individual papers in their latest earnings report, but my guess is that the DMN is still cash flow positive or close to it. But Belo’s balance sheet is short on cash and they are clearly vulnerable to running out of cash/being unable to borrow in this debt crisis.

    As to R and Kent’s comments, I could not agree more. DMN’s not so great online operation is either losing money or barely breaking even, ignoring the huge subsidy from the print edition. DMN going online only is not going to happen.

    I think the DMN online should put the wall up and go subscriber only for articles and let some teaser content and the blogs remain free to the public. Who buys what they can get for free?

  53. Peterk says:

    “the general pubic notices the lack of copy editors.”

    the general public may not notice, but I do. I’ve noticed in several online stories published by reputable companies numerous misspellings. is that the lack of copy editors or an over reliance on spellcheck?

  54. Bethany says:

    Thank god. Someone finally noticed.

  55. RoknCajn says:

    First off, Bethany: I noticed right away. Why? Because I’m a former copy editor at TDMN. 😉

    Second: I left the paper this fall (voluntarily) because on so many levels, the paper has failed itself, its readers, its legacy and its future.

    Wait: how can it fail its future when the future hasn’t happened yet? Because TDMN’s leadership is either so myopic and/or so protectionist that it can’t make the proper decisions to move the business forward.

    One way to sum it up: a journalistic organization can’t be operated using the traditional corporate business model for a number of reasons, from the intangibility of the core product to the ethics, creativity and discipline needed to produce a good product. Yet since the late 1990s – more than incidentally the first time Belo stock peaked at a juicy, about-to-burst price – the company’s primary goal has gradually shifted away from supplying quality contemporary journalism to pleasing board members, stockholders and the local elite.

    In other words, the price became more important than the product. That, folks, spells doom for most common consumer goods, from cars and CDs to cell phones and chewing gum. And it typically grinds the progression of a product to a screeching, lurching, bolt- and weld-loosening halt.

    I was among the trendsetters at the paper. I can do more than one thing well at that level; I’m skilled at copy editing, line editing, idea generation, fact-checking, reporting, writing and criticism in both print and online. I did things no one else in the country had tried before, and I was successful with them. I was one of the most productive staffers in my department.

    But they lost me, and I’m likely going to leave journalism. Why? Because I – very much like the immense pool of both veteran and young talent that TDMN used to attract and had within its walls just a few years ago – was not appreciated properly. I was meat, not talent. I was ballast, not part of the crew. I was a small gear in a huge engine room of a ship that can only move at a crawl, that takes forever to change direction, that’s now dealing with choppy seas … and that’s got several worsening leaks in its hull.

    Damn the torpedoes, my arse. I hate swimming, much less drowning.

    We’ll have a paper for a while in Dallas. But it won’t be worth much unless its either repaired – and the only way that’ll happen is if its ownership changes – or replaced. I’d bet money on the latter more than the former at this point.