The Dallas Morning News is a daily newspaper reaching the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas state, with its headquarters in Downtown Dallas. The newspaper has been publishing since 1885, when it was created as a satellite newspaper of the Galveston Daily News. Currently, The Dallas Morning News is in the top 20 in terms of the largest paid circulations in the United States.

This post takes you through The Dallas Morning News history, from its founding to its circulation figures. You can find lots of back issues of the newspaper in our Dallas Morning News archive, letting you read a newspaper from your chosen date. 

Dallas Morning News archives

The Dallas Morning News, Saturday, November 22, 1963 – the date President John F. Kennedy was assassinated

Early History 

Alfred Horatio Belo founded the newspaper back in 1885. In 1904, the Texas Almanac started to be published by The Dallas Morning News, when it used to be published in the 1800s intermittently by the Galveston Daily News. In May 2008, after more than a century of publishing the Texas Almanac, its assets were given as a gift to the Texas State Historical Association. The Galveston News and The Dallas Morning News were the earliest newspapers in the United States to publish editions simultaneously. When it began, The Dallas Morning News did not affiliate with a particular political party and instead focused its efforts on state news. 

The newspaper printed an 8-12 page edition daily by 1888, along with 16 pages on a Sunday. Its initial circulation was 5,000. By 1895, circulation of the newspaper had reached 17,000. This figure then grew to 38,000 in 1906. 

The Dallas Morning News remained in the Belo family until 1926. A majority interest in the paper was sold by the family to George Dealey, the newspaper’s long standing publisher. During the 1940s, the publication had moved into a new office with a new newsroom and printing plant. This would remain the headquarters of the newspaper for the next 60 years. When the 1990s arrived, the newspaper became the single major publication in the Dallas area, following the close of the Dallas Times Herald in 1991. There had been many years of war between the two newspapers in terms of circulation numbers. 

Al Día and Quick

The Dallas Morning News launched a newspaper in 2003 called Al Día, printing in the Spanish language. While initially requiring a price for purchase, the newspaper has recently been made free, publishing every Wednesday and Saturday. It was also in 2003 that the newspaper launched another publication called Quick, which was tabloid sized and aimed to focus on delivering general news in a fast and concise way. Quick stopped printing in 2011, with its later years covering mostly lifestyle stories and entertainment. 

dallas morning news building

The Dallas Morning News office in Dallas, Texas
Image: Wikimedia Commons 

1987: SMU Football’s “Death Penalty”

The Dallas Morning News was pivotal in uncovering the scandal at Southern Methodist University’s football program in the eighties.

Investigative journalism was on the rise, in large part due to the Watergate scandal of the previous decade, and The Dallas Morning News uncovered a trail of lies and cover-ups at nearby SMU that ultimately helped build a case for the NCCA to levy harsh sanctions on the university. In 1987, after gathering evidence that the Mustangs were paying college athletes large sums of money to play for them, the NCCA handed “the death penalty” to SMU, rendering the football program useless for the best part of two decades.

The intense sports media environment in Dallas, from both the Morning News and competitor paper the Dallas Times Herald, meant that the antics of the Mustangs were under intense scrutiny, and the tireless reporting on the matter by Morning News journalists like the now famous Skip Bayless helped shed light on the shady goings on at SMU.

Upon the NCAA’s verdict, the front page for February 26, 1987 read: “SMU football canceled for 1987.”

Current Ownership 

The Dallas Morning News is currently owned by the A. H. Belo Corporation, with the name honoring the original founder of the publication. The A. H. Belo Corporation owns various newspapers in the Texas areas, and has been around since 2008. Currently, the newspaper is edited by Mike Wilson and published by Grant Moise. The newspaper is one of the largest publications that still remains to be an independently owned metro newspaper. 

In the last year or so, there have been some changes to the newspaper that have impacted its functioning. Many staff were laid off, including staff working on the editorial, arts and culture and business sections of the newspaper. The Business segment of the newspaper was reduced to one separate part per week on a Sunday. The Business part would then be located in the newspaper’s Metro section for the rest of the days of the week. These changes affected 43 employees. 

Dallas Morning News

The Dallas Morning News, Saturday, April 6, 1968

Political Stance 

Due to its focus on state news, The Dallas Morning News abstained from affiliation with a particular state party. In later years, the newspaper has often leaned to the conservatives in terms of political alignment, resembling the drift of Texas to the Republican Party during the 1950s. Between 1952 and 2012, the newspaper supported each Republican nominee, in the exception of neutrality in the 1964 election that took place between Barry Goldwater and Lyndon B. Johnson. 

However, for the first time since 1940, when Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for President, the newspaper endorsed a Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, back in 2016. The newspaper printed an editorial about Donald Trump, claiming that he was “not qualified to serve as president,” changing the nature of their political stance as it was the first time since 1964 that the newspaper refused to endorse a Republican candidate. The editorial board claimed “Donald Trump is no Republican.”              

In 2018, when the midterm elections were approaching, the publication endorsed Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate, over Senator Ted Cruz. 

The Dallas Morning News Prizes 

The newspaper has won nine Pulitzer prizes, from throughout the 1990s and up to 2010. The Pulitzer prizes have been for reporting and photography, and the newspaper has won George Polk Awards for regional and education reporting. The Dallas Morning News has also received an Overseas Press Club award for photography. 

The newspaper has won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography twice, in 2004 and 2006, as well as the Feature Photography prize in 1991 and the Spot News Photography prize in 1993. Their most recent Pulitzer Prize was for Editorial Writing back in 2010. 

In 2017, the newspaper came first place in the National Headliner Awards for Spot News in Daily Newspapers, as well as Local Interest Column on a Variety of Subjects. Most recently, The Dallas Morning News won four Hugh Aynesworth Awards in 2018 for Daily Newspaper Investigative Reporting, Public Service, Daily Newspaper Feature Reporting and Sports Feature Reporting. 

The Dallas Morning News Circulation Figures

Date Circulation
1885 5,000
1895 17,000
1906 38,000
1928 86,000
1950 150,000
1968 346,273
1994 527,300
2003 525,532
April to Sept 2013 271,189
April to Sept 2014 272,245
Jan to Dec 2015 271,546
Jan to Dec 2016 235,402
Jan to Dec 2017 214,423

These figures show the daily circulation of The Dallas Morning News from its establishment in 1885 to 2017. When looking at recent Dallas Morning News history, it’s interesting to consider the drop in circulation from 2003 to 2013, which is likely due to the rise of the Internet and the ease of reading news on devices as opposed to buying the print version. The circulation figures had barely dropped between 1994 and 2003, suggesting circulation was relatively balanced during this time. 

Interestingly, circulation increased slightly in 2014, before going back down in 2015 to a number similar to the circulation of 2013. The circulation numbers have been decreasing ever since 2015, which also suggests that reading news online has become even more accessible and easier for readers in the last decade.