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December 4, 2009

Dallas Morning News Arts Dept. To Report to Sales Staff

Arts journalism has always suffered from a perception that arts news isn't real news. Now The Dallas Morning News and its owner, A.H. Belo Corp., give cultural journalism a fresh black eye with what Morning News editor Bob Mong is calling "business/news integration," a.k.a. what most sentient journalists would recognize immediately as a fatal, self-inflicted rupture in the wall between editorial and advertising.

As the Dallas Observer reported yesterday, "some section editors at all of the company's papers, including The News, will now report directly to [senior vice president of sales Cyndy] Carr's team of sales managers, now referred to as general managers." The sections in question are entertainment and sports.

In a memo to staffers, which the Observer published, Mong characterizes the new structure as "the next step toward becoming the most comprehensive and trusted partner for local businesses in attracting and retaining customers and continuing to generate important, relevant content for our consumers." It's hard to believe that the editor -- the editor! -- of a big-city daily could say that and mean it.

Although the memo suggests numerous sections are affected by the change, The New York Times reports today that Mong said only entertainment and sports are involved -- as if that somehow made it acceptable:

In an interview, Bob Mong, the editor of The Morning News, stressed that no other parts of the paper would report to people outside the newsroom, though advertising managers had been assigned to work with several other areas, like health, education, travel and real estate. Asked if there were plans to apply the structure in sports and entertainment to other parts of the paper, he said, "not at this time."

That structure, as Mong's memo explains it:

In the Sports and Entertainment segments, the senior news editors will report directly to the GM while retaining a strong reporting relationship to the editor and managing editor. These collaborations will bring new products that consumers want to the market more rapidly. We are proceeding knowing and trusting each other's distinct roles and responsibilities in the same way our News leadership and our Publisher have worked collaboratively for years.

Right. If you want to rip the heart out of whatever your newspapers have left to sell, this is an excellent way to start.

And, really, how ironic: Arts journalists and sports journalists, united at last.
December 4, 2009 11:01 AM | | Comments (1)


This is terrible, but I have one side comment that doesn't address how disgusting it is. I know that as an ARTicles blogger I'm supposed to post my comments, but this one seems too minor and I don's have the time to expand. In my view, arts journalism and sports journalism are part of the same larger entity, cultural journalism. When I decided I wanted to write journalism, sports journalism was my first plan--inspired by Red Smith and especially the great boxing writer A.J. Liebling. Who was also a press critic, a clan also part of cultural journalism. David Carr, welcome aboard.

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