We just received a memo sent to Dallas Morning News staffers yesterday regarding the upcoming shake-up in the newsroom. As we noted here last week, the paper's about to lose some 50-60 employees in the coming days, some likely from GuideLive, not two years after Belo Corp. axed 250 workers at Dallas' Only Daily. The paper's offering buyouts--the terms of which have not yet been disclosed to DMN employees--and if enough folks don't take them, the paper will start firing folks. The word is "reshaping."
The memo that follows the jump comes from George Rodrigue, the paper's vice president and managing editor, and it speaks for itself. In short, the paper's going to give the people what they want, with substantial input not just from those who provide its content but from those who sell, market and deliver the paper. The phrase "by committee" comes to mind. But there is one sentence worth pointing out: "The thing that gets us through hard times is great journalism." How, one wonders, will that be possible when journalists, great or otherwise, lose their jobs in order to pay for circulation scandals, CueCat bungles and other mistakes that have nothing to do with, you know, great journalism? --Robert Wilonsky
Wednesday, July 19, 2006 2:23 PM
To: TDMN-CCI Users
Subject: Update on reshaping the newsroom
I'm writing to give you an update on our progress in reshaping the newsroom.
First, our latest round of research on core readers is in, for the most part, and it says that our traditional readers want a traditional newspaper. They're keenly interested in national and world news, and want our front page to be their window on the larger world. They're eager for good reporting and writing about the local area, whether that be schools, companies, cities or sports teams.
That's a very broad overview, but it's a complicated topic.
We've named a small team of newsroom experts that will brainstorm ways to build the newsroom from the ground up, to meet our needs in print and on the Web. This effort will be chaired by Bob Yates, who's done a wonderful job of shepherding a similar reinvention process in Sports this year.
Other newsroom members will include Walt Stallings, Lisa Kresl, Dwayne Bray and Linda Leavell. They'll be joined by several experts from other parts of the company, including Jim Berry from Finance, Cyndy Carr from Advertising, Laura Gordon from Marketing, and John Walsh from Circulation. They will be spending 100 percent of their time on the project from July 24 to August 4. Their work will be reviewed by Jim Moroney, Bob Mong, Keven Willey and me, and then presented to Robert Decherd.
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Robert, Jim and Bob will make the final decisions on the content and staffing questions, weighing both our financial imperatives and our traditional values of journalism and public service.
We're still several weeks away from making firm decisions about the future shape and size of the staff. We'll share what information we can with you, just as soon as we can. Meanwhile, thanks for your patience and your continued professionalism. I think you guys already know this, but to my mind the thing that gets us through hard times is great journalism. Thank you for continuing to provide that. And please feel free to drop me a note if you have any special concerns or questions.