Thursday, December 03, 2009

Here's your one chance, Fancy?

The Dallas Morning News thought it had problems.

It ain't seen nothing yet, now that management has torn down the wall between those charged with telling readers the truth -- whether they want to hear it or not -- and those who haul in the bucks by telling people any damn thing to sell them stuff they probably don't need anyway.

The news-editorial and advertising functions of the American press always have been uneasy partners in a forced marriage -- one in which divorce wasn't an option, because as miserable as the couple might be, they needed each other. So they reached an accommodation -- agreeing to live as codependents who, alas, remain true to themselves.

No more, though. At least not in Dallas.

NO, MANAGEMENT at the Dallas Morning News thinks tough times will be much easier to bear if only one partner in this marriage of convenience could change the other one. Of course, this will not entail the business side of the newspaper giving up its favorite street corner and starting to dress like an Amish farm wife.

The Dallas Observer chronicles the run-up to the coming festivities . . . that no doubt will end in a fracas involving a 3-iron, an SUV, a fire hydrant and a tree:
After the jump, you will find a memo Dallas Morning News editor Bob Mong and senior vice president of sales Cyndy Carr sent to everyone at A.H. Belo Corp. Wednesday afternoon outlining what they call a "business/news integration." Which means? As of yesterday, some section editors at all of the company's papers, including The News, will now report directly to Carr's team of sales managers, now referred to as general managers. In short, those who sell ads for A.H. Belo's products will now dictate content within A.H. Belo's products, which is a radical departure from the way newspapers have been run since, oh, forever.

Those sections mentioned in the memo include sports, entertainment, real estate, automotive and travel, among others.The memo doesn't mention Business or Metro by name, but there are references to "health/education" and "retail/finance"; these are not defined in the missive. Says the memo, Carr's sales force will "be working closely with news leadership in product and content development." Executive sports editor Bob Yates and Lifestyles deputy managing editor Lisa Kresl are quoted in the memo enthusiastically signing off on the unconventional marriage; says Kresl, "I'm excited about the idea of working with a business partner on an arts and entertainment segment."
AMAZING HOW PEOPLE afraid for their jobs in a rapidly disappearing profession will say the damnedest things. Or do the damnedest things.

Remember that Reba McEntire song, "Fancy," the one about the dirt-poor girl whose dying mama turns her out to "be nice to the gentlemen" so she, at least, doesn't starve? By the end, Fancy ends up as a wildly successful, high-priced and high-class . . . singer and actress.

That's because it's a song. Somebody made that s*** up.

For the Dallas Morning News, things won't turn out nearly so well. That's because when you're a newspaper, you just can't afford to give readers reasons not to trust anything you say.

Ultimately, that translates into dollars and cents. Or the lack thereof.

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