Let Me Sum Up

Why the Dallas Morning News might get healthier in 2013. Plus: murder totals!

Why the Dallas Morning News might get healthier in 2013. Plus: murder totals!

I’m really curious to see what moves or partnerships the Dallas Morning News makes this year. I think it’s an important time for the state’s most important paper, as revenues for the print product (I’m told) stagnated toward the end of last year.

I find hope, though, in two trends:

  1. The paper (and CEO/publisher Jim Moroney) has shown a willingness to find (through funding or acquiring) new revenue streams that complement its business.
  2. There are signs across the media landscape that innovative funding models are working.

First, we should define our terms. By “working” I don’t mean that anyone outside of the megabrands like the New York Times has cracked the nut on new media. It’s still a dangerous world out there, one where digital advertising dollars cannot fully replace print advertising dollars lost.

(Well, dangerous for legacy media. Google made more in ad dollars than all of print media combined. We’re talking about old media here.)

I mean that there are simply signs that some publishers are figuring out how to stop gushing red ink from every open wound.

Some examples: Texas Tribune CEO and editor-in-chief Evan Smith wrote yesterday that his site, funded on a nonprofit model (meaning, they raise money from corporations and individuals) took in more money than it spent in 2012. That’s pretty significant, even though it’s tiny compared to something like the DMN.

This morning, the social news site BuzzFeed announced $20 million in new financing. BuzzFeed, with its NYT partnership, has been able to parlay its web-shoring success (cat pics, lists, etc.) into a credible success story in terms of its journalism and finances. Earlier this week, Heart Magazines said their digital subscriptions (800,000 of them) were high enough to turn a profit.

Why is this important for the DMN? Because the paper is caught in that weird place between needing to invest its money in new revenue streams and needing to see returns from said investments very quickly. My best guess — even my close friends there aren’t dumb enough to share hard numbers unless they’ve been reported by the company already — is that some of those investments are paying off rather quickly. The digital social/ad/content thingie Speakeasy, I’m told, is off to a fast start, and its new event company, Crowdsource, is doing well, by my best guesstimate.

I don’t know if such ancillary businesses are making enough to turn the paper around tomorrow, but they help staunch the bleeding. Now, the real trick is taking the models that are working elsewhere and creating enough compelling, vital content to make said models work. Aye, there’s the rub.

We can debate whether they can succeed at that — this column suggests many days that the paper has a long way to go in that regard — but it has to figure out a digital model this year that takes these lessons and applies them locally. I think they will figure it out. The question is, how much damage will the ship sustain before they do?

Elsewhere

Glad to see Chris Vognar tackle the three-hour-movie infestation. Seriously, old men have bladder issues, people. 

I complained about this on Twitter last night, and Teresa here at CultureMap needs to heed my warning: I don’t know how you go about reporting on Top Chef without spoiling it for those of who actually use our DVRs, but figure it out! 

Now Irving wants an “iconic bridge.” Wait for it … BAHAAHAHAHAAHAHHAAA. Oh, Irving. Bless your heart.

Prosper is the next boomtown, at least until everyone wakes up in 20 years and finds its only value was in its newness, like every other exurb.

The new murder numbers are here! The new murder numbers are here! 

Steve Blow with a solid column calling The Ledge a bunch of idiots, this time over education funding. 

Retweets

Couldn’t squeeze this in, but here’s more good info on why newspapers like the DMN have better outlooks in 2013.

Bring it, Aggies.

Evan Smith Texas Tribune
Texas Tribune head honcho Evan Smith is crowing about his 2012 success.
Jim Moroney
DMN CEO/Publisher Jim Moroney is working hard to figure out how to get more digital ad dollars in 2013.
John Tesar on Top Chef Seattle
I don’t know how you go about reporting on Top Chef without spoiling it for those of who actually use our DVRs, but figure it out! Photo courtesy of Bravo