By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Use Associated Press stories: Readers do not read bylines except for those of columnists and sportswriters. Let the wire services cover the day-to-day national stories and use your staff for analysis, opinion and investigation.
Assign three Sacred Cow beats: Put one investigator on Tom Hicks, one on Ross Perot Jr., one on the UT Southwestern Medical Center. Just to show you mean business.
Treat the Internet as a beat: Quit writing stories about cool Web pages and new tech devices that are already outdated when they run. Instead, have reporters compile notes and synthesize news from the Net every day that people are talking about.
Recast your two prize sections, Sports and Business: Both are fat and complacent, each one a regurgitation of information more quickly found on the Net. Make Sports more like talk radio (opinions, opinions, opinions). The biz section needs fewer feature stories, more personal finance information and more tough, investigative stories about local businesses.
Find critics who have strong opinions: Of all your columnists/critics in Sports, Texas Living, Metro, etc., you have two people with guts. Find more.
5 things Bob Mong shouldn't touch
Gerry Fraley and Ruben Navarrette: These two columnists, in the sports and op-ed sections, provide strong examples for others about how to be tough, insightful writers. If anything, they are not promoted enough.
The State desk: Some of the paper's best reporters--Pete Slover, Wayne Slater, Lee Hancock, et al.--make up the deepest bench at the DMN. Their stellar work during the space shuttle Columbia coverage illustrated their importance to the paper.
Increase Science/Discoveries page on Mondays: Mong says research shows that readers love the paperís excellent science coverage. Readers are smarter than you think. Challenge them, and they buy your paper.
Scott Burns: OK, he's been there forever, and I'm a little tired of hearing about his Baked Potato Investors, or whatever it is. But the man gives simple, straightforward advice about what to do with your coin, and people want that.
Guidelive.com: Not sure how much he has to do with this, but it's still the best what-to-do Web site in the country, a model for any paper trying to use its site to give folks their going-out info.