What do readers think? In April, the Audit Bureau of Circulations released figures for the country’s twenty-five biggest newspapers. From October 2006 through March 2007, the daily circulation of the Morning News was 411,919, a decline of 14.3 percent compared to a year earlier, more than twice the decline of any other large newspaper. Moroney attributes half of that decline to planned reductions in the newspaper’s circulation area and in the sale of discounted papers. Yet the remaining half —at 7 percent—would still exceed the circulation declines of the other twenty-four top newspapers.

According to surveys taken in the summer of 2004 by Scarborough Research, 79 percent of readers were satisfied with The Dallas Morning News. That number has fallen. A survey of a thousand readers during the first five months of 2006 found that the proportion of satisfied readers had dropped to 60 percent. Moroney and Mong say they are unsure what caused the decline. “I would say that there’s no silver bullet explanation,” Mong says. More recently, Scarborough Research surveyed readers from September 2006 through February 2007. This time Moroney and Mong decided not to ask readers if they were satisfied.

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Craig Flournoy & Tracy Everbach are professors of journalism at Southern Methodist University and University of North Texas, respectively. Flournoy reported for The Dallas Morning News from 1979 to 2000; Everbach from 1986 to 1998.