First, a quick history lesson in how a newspaper used to work.
Once upon a time, a big daily paper like the Dallas Morning News had a team of folks called an editorial board who wrote un-bylined opinion pieces called “editorials” that reflected the views of the paper’s publisher. This was a big deal. In the 1920s, the paper took a brave stand against the KKK, whose Grand Wizard was based in Dallas. Folks read those editorials. They made an impact. Then, 40 years later, the paper published editorials attacking John F. Kennedy, calling him a tricycle-riding weak sister, carrying water for the John Birch society and H.L. Hunt and all that. A bit bonkers, sure. But those editorials, too, made an impact.
What do we have today? On October 13, 2021, the News published two editorials. One says that domestic violence is a bad thing and that the paper supports the police chief’s efforts to curb it. The other says that Chinese aggression toward Taiwan shouldn’t be tolerated. In other words, one says nothing, and the other says something that no one will pay attention to.
Gen. Mark Milley: “Xi Jinping seems like he’s pretty proud of his warplanes, but I’m thinking we should keep our noses out of this one. You see that Ravens game?”
Gen. John Hyten: “Did I see it? Dude, I’ve got Lamar Jackson on my Joint Chiefs fantasy team. Anyway, I strongly disagree with you on China. The Dallas Morning News says we can’t tolerate this crap.”
It’s wasted ink. No one outside of Texas cares what the News thinks about anything. And no one in Texas cares what the News thinks about world affairs.
Last week, the News announced that Brendan Miniter, the guy who runs the editorial board, is leaving the paper to become the superintendent of a charter school network. Interesting choice. Miniter said he was humbled by the opportunity, which shows that he doesn’t know what the word “humble” means. From the announcement, it appears that his only qualification for being a superintendent of a school system is that he pruned trees as a youngster to help pay for his private-school tuition. Anyway, that’s for a discussion at another time.
Point is, the paper said it is conducting a national search to replace Miniter. It should stop that search. Save the effort. And the money.
There are something like six people on the editorial board, including the top spot. Give or take, that’s $600,000 in salaries, conservatively. (It’s probably way more.) Fire them all. Then use that money to hire three great, experienced columnists and a few young, hungry reporters. Use the money that remains to hire a firm to redesign the paper so it doesn’t look like it’s intended for children to read. If Grant Moise, the paper’s publisher, has something he wants to say, let him write it. If something important is happening in North Texas, have your columnists tackle it. Right now, the paper has one columnist not working in business or sports. This is a big enough place for more than one columnist. And if the paper came to its senses, it could afford to hire more.
Thank you for listening to my TED talk.