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News and sales get together

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This is kind of a follow-up to the discussion yesterday about online news content. In the search for an effective strategy, The Dallas Morning News has shattered the sacred wall between editorial and the advertising department.

Editor and Publisher reports today on an internal memo from the paper:

The Dallas Morning News is reorganizing its sales, marketing and newsroom around 11 “business and content segments” that will have sports and entertainment editors reporting to newly created general managers responsible for increasing advertising…

“Each segment will be led by a General Manager, a newly defined role… charged with analyzing and growing the business by developing solutions that meet consumer needs and maximize results for our clients,” the memo said. “Their responsibilities will include sales and business development. They will also be working closely with news leadership in product and content development.”

In addition to breaking down the once-hallowed barrier between news and sales, the American Journalism Review predicts “news cartels” will form between competing newsrooms, something that was once unthinkable:

It’s not farfetched to imagine major news organizations joining forces to produce a high-quality Web site, or a collection of Web sites, that could be put behind a pay wall. What if, for example, the New York Times contributed its text reporting, graphics and photography, ABC News contributed video reporting and National Public Radio offered its audio programs to a jointly owned site? Quality reporting and familiar brand names might make the sum of the parts worth more to consumers than the parts alone.

Within the public broadcasting system, there are already signs of such cooperation, despite some resistance to work with “the competition.”

Just about everything I learned in journalism school is out the window. It’s disconcerting, but it’s also a time of exciting possibilities. Media consumers will have to be sharp, though, and pay attention because the lines that marked the old media world aren’t just being blurred. They’re being erased.

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