February 05, 2018

The Dallas Morning News slouches further toward Gomorrah

Three specific ways in which the last remnant of the mighty Belo empire continues toward new levels of craptacularness.

That's even as it claims to be the flagship newspaper of A.H. Belo. Well, yea, if you have only two print products, and the other's a Spanish-language tab, that's going to be you by default.

First, the Snooze, between Austin bureau writers like Bob Garrett and political analyst Gromer Jeffers, seem hell bent for high water to make the Democratic gubernatorial primary a two-person race only, despite Tom Wakely having run for Congress before and having entered the gubernatorial race before Andrew "Maybe we won't fry them" White and Loopy Lupe Valdez. They know what they're doing, too. Garrett did it again at the state AFL-CIO rally.

Garrett and Jeffers are technically skilled enough, and have a contact list of state politicos enough that they could do better. Either they're doing this on their own or else editorial higher-ups are making this call. In either case, it's deliberate, as I see it.

I'm not sure if the state's other big dailies are engaged in the same. I do know the Stateless mentioned Wakely by name at the San Angelo party forum.

(That said, while Wakely is depending entirely on small donations, so far, judging by his last financial statement, it's been microdonations, not just small donations. Especially given that he had announced several months ago, that's not good.)

Second is the naming of Brendan Miniter to replace Keven Ann Willey as editorial page editor, or as the snooty Snooze says, "editor of editorials." (The story later says the new title is to emphasize the Snooze's push to be digital first. This from the company that was a sucker for the CueCat then rolled out not one but two clusterfucked attempts at paywalls.)

The Snooze is known for its "one Democrat a year" general election endorsements. Hiring someone who is a Wall Street Journal editorial page alum is bad enough. That tenure includes:
From 2000 to 2010, Miniter was an assistant editorial page editor at the Wall Street Journal, which included writing a column and crafting political analysis for its "Political Diary" newsletter. He also collaborated with Republican strategist Karl Rove on two books, and with Republican Mitch Daniels, former governor of Indiana, on another.
But wait, that's not all!

He then worked at Shrub Bush's presidential library!
Miniter moved to North Texas in 2011 and worked for three years with the George W. Bush Presidential Center, where he was director of scholarship and editorial content.  There, he led a team of more than 50 that created a 14,000-square-foot permanent exhibit about the Bush presidency, including 35 films and interactives and four audio tours.
Editor Mike Wilson said this does not represent a "shift to the right." Publisher Jim Monroney said he's sure that Miniter will continue to uphold the Snooze being "progressive on social issues."

Yea, like Shrub hating gay marriage or even civil unions? Like Shrub as governor doing the Karla Faye Tucker imitation cackle?

I've not read much out of Wilson's pen, but I've seen Monroney turd-polish the Snooze and Belo for years. This is nothing new, either on the idea that Miniter will be progressive on social issues or that the Snooze has been progressive on them in the past.

(Bill McKenzie calls him a "compassionate conservative" who "cares about ... neighborhoods." Oh, yeah? Cops following the "crack in the sidewalk" model of policing "care about neighborhoods." Crack dealers not wanting competition "care about neighborhoods.")

Besides, getting below national, or even state, issues, Miniter probably will be a hack on editorials and columns about Dallas, Dallas County, Dallas ISD and other Metroplex governance.

I hope Jim Schutze kicks his ass at first opportunity.

But, that's only two of three. 

The third?

The Snooze's ad sales continue to decline.

On Thursdays during the Thankgiving-Christmas shopping season, even then, its adhole was barely above 25 percent. This doesn't count any house ads, and deducts for part of PR space on things like classys and auto liner listings, but does count obits inches as paid ad space. 

Thursdays in general are supposed to be a fairly solid ad day, in part to prime people for shopping and buying over the weekend.

It's worse since then. I know January is a slow month, but SIXTEEN PERCENT on an adhole for Thursday, Jan. 18? Cut the page if you have to.

Seriously, that would be meh on a Monday, bad on a Tuesday, in my book. Horrible on a Thursday. Period.

The paper has been at 15 percent the two Mondays since, and under 25 percent on both Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Of course, their seniors section on Wednesdays is entirely canned content now. Other lifestyles stuff is moving that way. Maybe Monroney and Wilson need to look only at that alleged behemoth of Belo's separate digital marketing company as, not as salvation, but as a life raft.

I don't take glories in the struggles of newspapers, and wouldn't even if that weren't my seemingly stuck-for-life career path. Plus, I know people who work at the Snooze. But when a particular outlet repeatedly shoots itself in the foot while maintaining a pretentious smile at the corporate level?

To mix metaphors, don't keep peeing on the rearranged Titanic deck chairs and pretend it's just raining.

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