As previously reported on WebNewser, The Dallas Morning News announced plans last week to erect a paywall, which will be in place Jan. 18 but really take effect Feb. 15, and publisher Jim Moroney admitted that he saw the move as a gamble in an interview with Justin Ellis for Harvard University’s Nieman Journalism Lab.
Jim Romenesko at Poynter obtained Moroney’s Jan. 4 email to staff about the paywall. Highlights, via Poynter:
Our Subscriber Content initiative that we are announcing today includes the news that in February, we will begin to require nonsubscribers to pay for most of the news, sports, and information our newsroom originates and distributes digitally each day.
So brace yourself. We will be vilified by the digital futurists, ridiculed by colleagues in our industry, and fitted with a dunce cap by the trade media. In fact, some of the same will be heard in our own hallways. Much like our 40 percent increase in home-delivery pricing in 2009, this strategy goes against the grain. But that’s OK. We’ve been there before.
We are still living in adverse times in our industry. Newspaper-industry advertising revenues declined for the fourth straight year in 2010. Last year felt better because the rate of decline decelerated; nevertheless, no one is certain that advertising revenues will grow in this new year.
Are we certain this strategy will succeed? No. In fact, maybe we will be wearing that dunce cap.
What will we do if the strategy fails? We will get up and try again. As a wise person once said, in times of adversity, the greatest failure of all is the failure to dare to take risks.
We mustn’t waiver in our resolve. Strategies need time to succeed. We will course-correct smartly as marketplace experience and gathered data suggest.
Having said all this, I don’t want you to read into this that I am the least bit downhearted. I am excited by what we are announcing today. I am exhilarated by the smart risks we take. I am proud of the people who have labored incessantly over the past several months to put us in this position. I believe this strategy has every good chance to succeed. I am looking forward to its implementation.