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The Morning News became Dallas’ only daily newspaper with the closing of the Dallas Times-Herald in 1991. It shares some content with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a smaller McClatchy-owned newspaper also in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. It has announced plans to begin printing the Star-Telegram in early 2014.
In early 2011, it became one of the first large metro newspapers in what was expected to be a larger wave to go behind a paywall, a move that Morning News publisher Jim Moroney acknowledged carried “big risk.” Sunday delivery and digital access started at $3.69 per week, which included access through dedicated iPhone and iPad applications.
In 2013, it scrapped its paywall, replacing it with a two-site model in which all online content is available for free, with a second site offering a “premium” design for $11.96 per month, or included with print subscriptions. The strategy included plans for event-related perks for subscribers. It abandoned that premium model in July 2014. In 2014, the Morning News announced a partnership with The Washington Post that gave Morning News subscribers free access to the Post’s website and apps.
The Morning News had a daily print circulation of about 200,000 as of 2012, and about 400,000 with digital subscriptions and branded editions included.
One significant contributor to that larger total circulation figure is Briefing, a free “quick-read” newspaper delivered to households in neighborhoods attractive to advertisers who do not subscribe to the Morning News. Briefing distributed over 200,000 copies a day, Wednesday through Saturday, as of early 2011.
In 2012, the Morning News bought Pegasus News, an online hyperlocal news company covering the Dallas area. The paper also co-owns with a local ad agency the social advertising company Speakeasy, through which it began running native advertising in 2013.
During the mid-2000s, Belo made several rounds of staff cuts at the Morning News, reducing the size of the paper’s newsroom by half over five years. In late 2009, saying newspapers had “cut too far,” Moroney announced his intentions to hire more journalists. He also announced plans to charge more for the paper’s print product; as of early 2011, a seven-day subscription cost $383 per year, one of the highest rates in the United States. The paper hired The Modellers, a Utah market research firm, to determine how much the newspaper could increase prices without damaging overall circulation revenues.
A.H. Belo has consistently lost money since it split off from Belo and went public in 2008. In May 2011, the company announced it would once again begin issuing a dividend to shareholders, despite a net loss of $6.7 million in the first quarter of the year.
The paper has won several major awards, including three Pulitzer Prizes in the past six years. The Morning News also was an early adopter of blogging, becoming one of the first papers to run an editorial board blog in 2003. It launched a citizen journalism initiative with 50 contributors in 2014.
Along with Briefing, the Morning News and A.H. Belo have launched a number of publications aimed at various demographics of readers, including a Spanish-language newspaper, Al Dia, and Quick, a newspaper aimed at younger readers that was initially a free daily but has since become a weekly. The paper also runs a reader-driven network of hyperlocal sites called neighborsgo.
In December 2009, some of the Morning News news section editors began reporting to sales managers in a company-wide reorganization. Reaction to the move was mixed, with some raising concerns about the ethics of integrating ad sales and news content. Morning News executives stressed the change would not affect the integrity of the paper’s news content.
The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism is a nonprofit investigative news organization affiliated with the University of Iowa. The center was launched in spring 2010 by University of Iowa professor Stephen Berry and doctoral student Robert Gutsche Jr. It was initially staffed by students and interns working for free, though its leaders have plans…