Anthony Moor

Exploring Media in Transformation | Transforming in Media Exploration

/ˌtrænsfərˈmeɪʃən/ n. 1: a process of change from one form to another.

Filtering by Category: Dallas Morning News

Dallas launches stealth community sites

You haven't heard about it in the journalism trade press. You didn't see images on the design blogs. They haven't debated it on the business 2.0 sites. Maybe it's because we didn't invest in whizbang technology, dismantle our newsroom or hire Rob Curley. But the Dallas Morning News has launched a serious effort to cover news in 15 neighborhoods and towns in our region, using seasoned reporters, community home pages, aggregation tools, staff blogs and citizen input.
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A journalist in every coffee shop

A news company in the Czech Republic is getting in to the coffee shop business, in order to attract people to its journalists who will be working nearby.  As the New York Times explains:

The newsrooms-cum-cafes are part of a new venture in so-called hyperlocal journalism, which aims to reconnect newspapers with readers and advertisers by focusing on neighborhood concerns at a neighborhood level: think garbage collection schedules, not Group of 7 diplomacy.

Our neighborsgo staff has been doing that in their own way for some time.  They've scheduled meet and greets in area Starbucks.  Some have been so popular Starbucks asked them to move elsewhere.  (What?  Not enough $4 lattes sold?)

You might have thought that our industry would have understood this intuitively.  After all, journalists know that to cover a community effecitvely, you have to be in that community.  You have to live and breathe it.  It's old-school, beat coverage.

But hyperlocal hysteria was a digital wave:  Use the inexpensive, unlimited canvas of digital publishing to create virtual town squares; bring together citizen content with reporter-generated content and have everyone talk about it together.

Now we're realizing that if you stop there, you may not achieve your goal of helping the community connect or reap good journalism either.  Backfence failed because there wasn't anyone to orchestrate the online communities that formed, and maybe because those communities didn't feel enough sense of place just interacting in a virtual landscape.  Barista has prospered because there are reporters leading the Montclair, N.J. blog's community.

Our own Dallas Independent School District beatblog has helped coalesce the community of people here intensely interested in the city's schools due to the real-world oureach of our lead reporters, who have engaged sources and citizens directly in conversation day in and day out, online and off.

We're launching a host of new community blogs at The Dallas Morning News now, along with an intensive reporting effort in these communities.  Here's hoping we marry our understanding of social media and shoe leather more effectively; perhaps by setting up our blog shop in the corner booth at the cafe.

ChicagoNow: Coherent execution of coherent strategy

By now you've probably seen the spiffy video produced by the Chicago Tribune about its soon-to-be-launched blogging/aggregation site ChicagoNow.  They're dealing with the foray of Huffington Post and ESPN into their market, plus the drip drip of social networking sites like facebook eating into their core franchise.

It's only a matter of time before this happens here in Dallas too.

So give the Trib staff credit:  They dreamed this up in December and have clearly executed in a coordinated fashion across the entire company toward a defined goal.  They have taken the time to create the business plan, hone the editorial concept, build the technology, design the Web 2.0 interface, aggregate the voices and develop a marketing pitch.  So it's a good play, well executed, by the way it looks from the outside.

That's how news organizations need to act if they've got a prayer of survival.

Know any companies which could use a dose of that kind of business discipline?

The junta in charge of the Internet Google, for search; Facebook for social and Twitter for realtime socializing.  So says Mr. Jarvis, explaining that content is not king.  Newspapers should take heed, he contends:

I think they should follow the advice of Mark Zuckerberg, member of the ruling junta, that their job is to bring communities elegant organization. In a sense, they always have done that; they helped communities organize their knowledge so they could organize themselves; that’s the essence of an informed democracy.

We're trying a measure of that elegant organization on a shoestring with our new communities pages.  Yes, I know others have done this before, but we're hoping we can build on their attempts.  This is our Plano page, which attempts to organize in an elegant way our listings and other event databases, plus put a blend of internal and external news feeds from selected sources front and center via Yahoo! Pipes.  We're also manually choosing good content from sources that don't have reliable feeds, using Publish2.

At the same time we're launching a series of beat blogs for about 18 of those communities, with dedicated reporters whose mandate is to reach out to the community in a virtual and real way.  We'll bring our scores of citizen opinion contributors in on the project and our NeighborsGo community editors (who solicit conent from users).

This is an exciting project.


Using WaPo TV on

Ad Age has a good article explaining how newspaper.coms used The Washington Post's new live video analysis during election night. They quote me and other folks. Bottom line:

For The Dallas Morning News, it fulfills a philosophy that it will do what it's good at -- a local voter guide is really its big election-season draw, said Mr. Moor -- and outsource what it can't do. It has called on, of which Forbes is an investor, to supply polling data and uses PolitiFact, from the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly, for its fact checking.

DISD budget crisis fuels blog traffic

At they're chronicling the growth in our schools blog since the Dallas Independent School District discovered it would have to lay off hundreds of teachers to close a multi-million dollar budget gap.

Fischer and Hobbs have been able to greatly increase traffic to their blog while also encouraging more conversations in the community. They have done this by giving people unprecedented information and new level of coverage during a crisis.

The post also gives Hobbs props for her liveblogging using CoverItLive.

Kudos for Kent and Tawnell's DISD blog

BeatBlogging.Org is giving props to our education team for their efforts (as part of the BeatBlogging experiment) at covering the fiscal meltdown there.

The blog has seen more than a 100 percent increase in page views to be exact. The two have been covering the districts developing financial crisis in real time, and people have responded by coming back to the blog over and over again, while also leaving hundreds of comments a day.


(Thanks Jason Sickles)

How one News staffer used the two-way Web for a scoop

A post at reveals how Dallas Morning News education reporter and blogger Kent Fischer used the Web for an A1 story. Fischerexplained how his Friday cover story unfolded a day earlier on his education blog and continued after print publication on the comments section at

Among the nuggets:

  • He posted to his blog after a teacher emailed him
  • His post prompted a reader to forward him some district documents
  • Fischer posted a memo with a "quick and dirty" translation
  • A flood ofcomments followed, and after the story published on A1 the next day, more people commented on the Web version of the story.

"In this instance, the blog really paid off, in that readers tipped us off to a good story that was still mostly obscured from the public," Fischer told

Something has to give to innovate on the Web

Kent Fischer addresses that in Something has to give to innovate on the Web, as he talks about what he's had to give up to do the DISD blog.

Yes, you make your day longer but you also stop doing stuff you did before. For me, the trade off is the enterprise reporting. Not every reporter is going to want to give that up, because generally that’s the fun, stimulating stuff. But for me, that’s what got dropped given the ridiculous amounts of daily news produced in a huge city school district that needs reporting.

Responding to our Web site grumbles

We've had a bit of a firestorm on of late, ignited by a nugget of friendly help from the managing editor on how to search our site, and stoked some by our own colleagues on our Opinion blog. Because the public chimed in with various and sundry gripes about our site, I felt the need to respond.

Here's the thread - infused with a measure of snarkiness typical to the Opinion blog.

Comments on articles

At The Dallas Morning News we're preparing to launch a tool that allows people to comment on articles. Many, many other news organizations have done this already, so we're late to the game.

On the plus side, that gives us some real world experience on which to base our expectations for what will happen when we let our users in to converse. Here's a great post on Poynter about the experiences of other newspaper companies discovered by Belo TV station WVEC news manager Pete McElveen.'s model is one we'll be mirroring:

We have a profanity filter that catches basic stuff, but besides that, we deal with issues after publication. Every comment has a "report abuse" link to allow readers to help us identify problems, and we have staff that helps deal with problematic subjects such as local crime, politics, etc. We also keep a close eye on all stories played off the home page.

Time spent on our site

Several folks have asked me about the latest Neilsen report on time spent on newspaper.coms in January.  Pay it no mind.

Although it looks as if people spend a lot less time on our site per visit than on peer newspaper.coms, the discrepency is one that’s due to bad data collection, not lousy Web site design or uninteresting content etc.  Our internal numbers put us in January at 16:45, which represents a consistent, three-year rise in time spent, and is much more in line with our peer newspaper.coms.

So why isn’t that reflected in the Neilsen numbers?  It’s because of the way we architect our site and the way they collect the data.  We have many different domains:  Guide Live for entertainment, HSGT for high school sports, “beloblog” for our blogs, for nation/world news, neighborsgo for hyperlocal, etc., and when people navigate to one of those during a session with us… the clock stops.

We still actually have users looking at our content, but the Neilsen or comScore systems don't know that they're looking at our content, because the URLs have changed.