World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

Building new revenues and fostering innovation in Dallas

World News Publishing Focus

World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

Building new revenues and fostering innovation in Dallas

He is also the featured profile in our September/October issue of World News Publishing Focus. Here, from our recent conversation with him, are Moroney’s thoughts on some of the top issues facing many news publishers today.

[The following interview is also available in Spanish.]

Why publishers need to look into new sources of revenue:

“We believe that digital advertising is – and will continue for some time to be – a good growth area; however, it isn’t and won’t be sufficient to compensate for annual print ad revenue declines for five to seven more years at least.

We believe that it’s possible that paid-digital subscriptions will be a reasonable source of revenue; however, we don’t know how much growth there is in paid digital subscriptions past a point, so we’re not in that business right now. I look around the country, and take out The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, I don’t find a lot of general interest metropolitan newspaper companies that are reporting a continuing growth trajectory on digital-only subscribers. I think it’s good revenue if you can get 20-25 percent of your print circulation as digital-only paid subscribers. But that’s not a game changer.

“If your whole strategy to grow revenue in your company is built on digital advertising and digital-only subscriptions, I don’t think you are going to be able to stabilize your revenue for a considerable period of time – or get it growing again – because for the next five to seven years, I think the decrease in print advertising will likely be greater on a year-over-year basis than what you can increase your revenues from the combination of growth in digital advertising and digital-only subscriptions. That’s why we’re going out and trying to acquire other ways to grow revenue that are not just dependent on digital advertising or digital-only subscriptions.”

Why daily newspaper publishers should think twice about reducing their print frequency:

“As soon as you stop publishing your newspaper seven days a week, you have just basically affirmed the ‘death of the newspaper narrative’ in your marketplace, and you have done, I believe, irreparable harm to your newspaper brand. I think newspaper companies should be very careful before they discontinue printing any number of days a week. They can run all of the spreadsheets they want to about why it’s going to somehow make them more profitable, but what’s not on that income statement is the strength of their brand and how important that is to driving revenue to their company.  They will take a real hit to their brand when they stop printing some number of days per week. I think that’s a big and often overlooked concern.

“Print is still a very integral part of our financial structure and while print revenue will continue to diminish over time, there is no way that cutting out the print by four days a week or down to one day a week is financially better for The Dallas Morning News. I don't see that being the case for the next five to seven to even 10 years. I believe we will still be printing a paper for years to come. It may become a higher price niche type product, but I think it can be done profitably. Right now, the print economics are just part of the runway that we have to transition this company to something other than one that’s mostly reliant on print economics, and we’re doing that, and we’re going to use all of that runway that we have. Some people would say ‘The reason you’re not moving faster is because you have the print product.’ I don’t believe that. I believe the print economics are essential to fund this transaction.

“I believe that you can innovate and change your company from what it was, to what it has to be, over a period of time. It is not a binary ‘on-off’ type equation. It is a very complicated, simultaneous set of equations for moving your brand, and the perception of your brand, from one built on print to one built on news and information distributed digitally.  The same applies to your advertising customers – transition them from thinking about you as only a print advertising channel to a multi-channel marketing company that, at least at The Dallas Morning News, we are to an extent today, and which we will become more so through both organic growth and strategic acquisitions. I would urge every metropolitan newspaper to do everything it can to diversify its sources of revenue and decrease its reliance on print because print is in decline. But being in decline is far from being dead.”

How The Dallas Morning News is approaching innovation:

“What we’re trying to do is look at our current products and see what we can do to improve them, extend them or determine what new products we could develop on our own. We’ve put a process in place to do that. We have four different cross-functional teams working in four different categories that define our innovation efforts. Our plan is to have at least two or three initiatives coming out of this work, that we would launch in 2015.

For us, we have to do two things: use our balance sheet cash to acquire companies and continue to innovate organically. We have to buy or build new businesses and new products that provide new and diverse sources of revenue to our company. We’re proceeding down both these paths – growth through acquisition and organic growth.”

Check out the full program and speaker’s list for Digital Media Latinoamérica. Our expanded story with James Moroney will be published in the September/October 2014 issue of World News Publishing Focus.


Brian Veseling's picture

Brian Veseling


2014-08-15 13:40

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