‘Morning News’ Plans Response to ‘Express’

By: Lucia Moses

Dallas Morning News Publisher and CEO James M. Moroney III said Thursday the paper is secretly planning a response to a quick-read daily set to launch in Dallas Nov. 12, but he wouldn’t confirm rumors that the Morning News is preparing to publish a spoiler paper on Monday to beat the newcomer to the punch.

The Morning News was blindsided by the Oct. 28 announcement that its former president, Jeremy Halbreich, would on Nov. 12 start a free tabloid daily aimed at time-starved professionals. The A.M. Journal Express would be the latest in a string of quick-read dailies in New York, Boston, and Washington that have been started, in some cases by traditional broadsheets, in an attempt to hook young readers.

Moroney said Wednesday the News had planned to pursue that age group with a nondaily publication with longer-format editorial content, but dusted off three prototypes for Express-like products after learning of Halbreich’s plans. On Wednesday, he stressed that no decision has been made, however.

“We learned about this thing a week ago,” he said Wednesday of Express. “For a major metro newspaper to turn around something like this in 10 days would be herculean.”

Moroney said the nondaily idea tested better in focus groups than the quick-read daily.

“We still believe this product has a better opportunity to succeed,” he said. If the second choice still holds promise, though, he asked, “Do you want to just give that up to somebody else coming in the marketplace?”

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