D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: When Dallas Was a Four-Newspaper Town

Remembering the glory days of the Dallas Dispatch.

A historic 1930s front page of the Dallas DIspatch.
A historic 1930s front page of the Dallas DIspatch.

Our latest honoree in the 40 Greatest Stories collection nicely complements an earlier entry, Blackie Sherrod’s 1975 article on legendary newspaperman Jack Proctor. Proctor even makes an appearance in Al Harting’s look at the glory days of the Dallas Dispatch, which ran in the August 1979 issue of D Magazine.

At one time the Dispatch was one of four dailies serving Dallas readers. Of course this was in the days before TV, not to mention the Internet and smartphones. People had to get their news somehow. So boys stood on street corners with the latest editions, literally shouting “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!,” just like we’ve all seen in old movies. Not sure what people did in place of “liking” or “retweeting” their favorite content back then. Maybe just giving a thumbs-up sign to the newsie and tossing their paper to a bum on a bus bench when they’d finished with it?

If you read the Proctor piece (and you really should have by now), you won’t be surprised to see Harting’s account of how freely the booze flowed in newsrooms or how the reporters employed some truly innovative (and ethically questionable) news-gathering techniques in pursuit of scoops. There are so many delightful anecdotes, and it’s amazing to realize that the Dispatch was only a short distance from D Magazine World Headquarters. Instead of running over to the 7-11 on Akard for a snack, if we’d been around in those days, we could have run over to one of the bordellos that lined the street, to partake of a very different sort of snack. Dispatch staffers were apparently frequent customers.

Journalism may be just as much fun now as it was then, but newsrooms almost certainly are not.

Read the whole thing.


  • zaccrain

    There’s actually a plaque sort of randomly placed on the building where the Dispatch was, I believe with either that Bonnie and Clyde front page or another about them.