The long, agonizing decline of the American newspaper industry took another major hit Monday as The Dallas Morning News said it is eliminating 43 jobs—20 from the newsroom—in a move, according to Publisher Grant Moise, that will rebalance “our financial resources so we are positioned for success,” Forbes reported.
“After considerable thought and analysis, our management team has determined that our business in the future is largely supported by subscription revenue and the need for more aggressive investment in our digital products,” said president and publisher Grant Moise, per FOX 4.
The cuts are intended to realign the organization as a subscriber-first digital-news operation, Moise and Katy Murray, the CFO of parent company A. H. Belo, said in separate but similar statements. The eliminated positions were “existing roles” at the company—presumably legacy print-media jobs. The company will be “creating 25 roles” to drive the new digital positioning, Murray said in her statement without elaborating.
The Dallas Morning News, one of the few independent metro newspapers left in the country, is experiencing the same malaise affecting the newspaper industry nationwide: A staggering decline in print ad and circulation revenue; a broad inability to develop traction with web subscriptions; and the rise of social media as an information hub and distribution network, where media-company content serves to monetize the platforms far more than the content creators, Forbes added.
The result has been an astonishing aggregated loss of 45% of newspaper jobs in less than 10 years, from about 71,000 to 39,000 in 2017, and a decline in total newspaper industry revenue of two-thirds during roughly the same period, from about $50 billion in 2006 to an estimated $16 billion in 2017, according to Pew Research Center.
The Dallas Morning News has to some extent been a microcosm of those trends. In the first three quarters of 2018, the parent company reported combined circulation and advertising revenue of $149.6 million, down nearly 19% from $184.5 million in the same period the prior year. Ad revenue alone was off by $29 million. Circulation revenue was off by about $3.5 million. Digital subscriptions (excluding replica versions of the print edition) accounted for only $1 million in The Dallas Morning News’ third quarter, barely 2% of total quarterly revenue of $43.7 million for the paper, even through it’s attempted a variety of paywall initiatives in recent years. The print circulation is 98,000 on weekdays and 160,000 on Sundays.