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Moroney’s Speech Revisited April 4, 2008

Posted by Robert Rich in symposium.
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Here are some other important quotes and facts from Moroney’s presentation:

– “If you are in the news and information business, there is a demand for you, and that demand is at an all-time high. It’s going to continue to grow.”

– “Why is it so hard for us to say we’re not in the newspaper business? We’re in the news and information business. We have to be in the news and information business because the newspaper is a declining business.”

The Short-Term Goals
– Decide on your lower margin and manage to it
– Get rid of unprofitable circulation, we can’t afford it
– Monetize surplus capacity, we don’t have the luxury of idle assets
– Raise prices where this is an opportunity
– Lower advertising rates if it raise volume
– Outsource where you can to improve profitability

The Long-Term Goals
– De-emphasize the one-size-fits-all characteristics, and find ways to position its ability to target mass audiences
– More context, perspective and analysis, less who, what, when and where, but more why
– Build a culture that embraces change
– Reorganize the company to execute the super-serving of local audiences

What the Dallas Morning News did:
– Closed foreign bureaus except Mexico City
– Reduced the size of the Washington D.C. Bureau
– Eliminated the Technology section
– Eliminated three general- interest Lifestyle sections
– Reduced size of Religion section
– Reduced Sports travel to games without local/regional teams
– Eliminated circulation outside a 100 mile radius, except for Austin, because the capitol is located in Austin, and they want to influence legislation
– Zoned the Metro section to improve quality of local news
– Increased the number of reporters dedicated to investigative and enterprise journalism. “At the height of differentiating is enterprise journalism. It is a force that is local and it becomes very relevant and important.”
– Added resources to education team. “People are very interested in everything that applies to the educational system in Texas.”

What’s next?
– Choose local categories to own
– Reorganize the company to own these categories. “You have to overwhelm the microcosm. We’re going to nice the niche, creating very deep verticals about a certain subject. They have to have some connection to local. We are going to aggregate everything about that subject matter as we can, and link to everything imaginable.”

“Why do we stay in this fight, why don’t we go join a digital startup? I believe we stay in this business because I genuinely believe that the kind of journalism the US newspaper business has done is essential to a functioning democracy. Show me a country where the people in power are not freely elected, and I’ll almost always show you a country without a free press. Show me a country where citizens are constantly abused by the people in power, and there will be a country without a free press. We have to make this transformation. The Dallas Morning News is going to find a way to get there, and I hope you will too, because we’re all in this together.”

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