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Dallas News to Erect Paywall Next Month

At the end of August there was that report noting that The Dallas Morning News was about to put much of its staff-written content behind a paywall, leaving only Associated Press pieces and 150-word breaking-news briefs as gratis offerings. Publisher and CEO Jim Moroney told us that wasn't quite accurate, but declined to offer any details. All he would tell us was: Wait and see.

No need. On Friday, in a from-staff-reports piece about the hiring of Grant Moise to oversee the paper's digital operations, there was this sneak peek at the future: "The News is expected to make a preliminary announcement soon about premium pricing related to its website." Soon as in "today": The paper just posted to its website details about its forthcoming iPhone and iPad apps -- part of its "next generation" look due to hit virtual newsstands December 14. On the same day the paper will begin offering "subscriber content," defined as "exclusive stories on dallasnews.com, iPhone and iPad written by our journalists you can't get anywhere else."

I've asked Moroney via e-mail for more details, and I'll update when he responds. Because he will. Which reminds me: I also need to ask him about the whole Sunday TV listings mag getting an upgrade -- at the cost of 75 cents a week. Because the Unfair Park in-box has filled up in recent days with missives like this one received yesterday:

No skin off me, because I don't watch TV, but one of my elderly neighbors (legally blind so can't get out much), who lives on SSN gets only the Sunday paper and needs the TV listing.  An extra $39 a year is a lot of money for her. It is a shame the DMN is doing this. Think of how much money they could have saved instead if they would just stop throwing that unwanted throwaway paper in peoples' front yards.

Side note: Grant Moise, new head of digital ops, is the publisher of Briefing.

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Update at 3:15 p.m.: Just heard back from Moroney, who insists the banner ad on the paper's website has nothing to do with the paywall. As in: "We haven't made any announcements to that effect. We are concentrating on getting our iPad up and running and launching an improved iPhone app." I told him he may want to look again. At which point he re-responded thusly:

"At this point we are not being any more specific than what we have communicated. Lots of variables still in play to get iPad app and new iPhone app to market. It's got all of our attention."

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