By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
It's been a while since Buzz checked in with Belo. Maybe that's because the new, well-received managing editor at the The Dallas Morning News, George Rodrigue, has so far impressed newsroom naysayers. (Note to them: You know Buzz appears every week, don't you?)
Finally, though, word comes of recent unrest at the DMN as managers start thinking about next fiscal year's budget. "Word is starting to spread that revenue is not just flat but 'running behind plan,'" a newsroom source said a few days before Friday's earning announcements to Wall Street. True enough, even though Belo as a whole met earnings expectations, DMN revenue was reported as flat to marginally profitable. People are wondering if that means reductions in head count.
Part of this, Buzz knows, is standard newsroom nervousness. But even with the reported success of Quick, the paper's free daily news-in-brief tabloid, other costly expansion efforts give more weight to these rumors. As does the fact that Belo announced it would close its cable-news TXCN stations in Houston and San Antonio and lay off 190 folks. And if you'd lost more than $18 friggin' million on the venture, you'd shutter 'em, too.
It's a radical departure from the way most daily newspapers package the news, but then most daily newspapers are slowly bleeding readership, so maybe "radical" is another way of saying "not insane."
"We're going to experiment with it a couple of days a week," Witt says. "The readers are going to determine whether it's a success." If not, the nice thing about a daily is you always get another shot at getting it right tomorrow.