Grant S. Moise, president and publisher ofThe Dallas Morning News, is being promoted to chief executive officer of its parent corporation — making him the first non-founding family member in nearly a century to lead the company.
DallasNews Corporation’s board of directors announced the leadership change Thursday.
Moise’s elevation means Robert W. Decherd, the company’s current CEO, president and chairman and great-grandson of The News’ founder George Bannerman Dealey, will move into an executive chairman role until his retirement from the board in 2023.
The changes also include the promotion of Katy Murray, the company’s chief financial officer and executive vice president, to president of the parent company.
Dealey founded The News in 1885 on behalf of A. H. Belo & Company. Together with a group of investors, Dealey purchased A. H. Belo & Company in 1926. The company’s name was changed to A. H. Belo Corporation and Dealey was the controlling shareholder. Since his death in 1946, Dealey’s wife, son, son-in-law, grandsons and great-grandsons have guided the company.
Moise said he considers his promotion to be “a tremendous vote of confidence from both Robert and the board” for the management team he leads. He also cited positive momentum from The News’ subscriber revenue growth in 2021 and the first three months of this year — the first such increase in 10 years.
“Over the past year, we have grown the number of subscribers and related revenue,” Moise said. “It’s a sign that we are building a business.”
Moise said Medium Giant, the company’s marketing agency, has retained over 90% of its top 25 clients over the past year.
“This tells me, we are building a marketing agency focused on our client’s success in helping them grow their business,” he said.
Decherd, who retired as CEO in 2013 before returning five years later, said the promotions mark a reshaping of the company’s corporate structure to a smaller leadership team. The six-member corporate executive committee that existed in 2018 is now only two.
He described Moise and Murray as being “intensely focused on the transition we’ve undertaken to assure the journalistic quality of The Dallas Morning News while building the foundation for a profitable business.”
The company’s strategy over the last few years had been to fund operating losses from its debt-free balance sheet while striving to reach a point where digital subscriptions can sustain its newsroom, which is one of the largest in Texas.
Decherd will remain the company’s largest shareholder, controlling 52.7% of the voting power. His second stint as CEO grew out of his long-term commitment to the journalistic mission of The News, he said.
He sees the leadership change “as the launch point of a great 21st century news organization,” Decherd said. “It’s important to succeed.”
Moise, 47, has worked at The News for more than 20 years, rising to president and publisher in 2018 to lead its digital-first strategy. With a decades-long decline in print revenue, the company embarked on an effort to build a profitable digital media business driven by online subscriptions and a more concentrated focus on issues and topics important to North Texans.
In addition, Medium Giant has continued to help its customers evolve their marketing needs. The combination of being a digital-first media company and a customer-centric marketing consultancy is the company’s future, Moise said.
“This is where we’re going,” said Moise, who holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and an MBA from Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business. “It’s where we’re going to take the business.”
In April, The News reported 62,356 digital subscribers, up 22.6% from a year earlier. Its 149,117 total subscribers represented a 0.7% increase from a year earlier.
Moise said he expects to spend more of his days with the company’s board of directors to continue evolving the digital-first strategy. “Great companies have very close alignment between the CEO and the board,” he said.
Murray, 53, joined the company in 2015 as chief financial officer and added an executive vice president title in 2020. She previously served as CFO of SourceHOV, Pivot3, Taleo Corp. and i2 Technologies. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from Louisiana State University.
In her new roles, she’ll remain as CFO but also oversee the company’s legal, human resources and IT teams as well as its Plano printing plant. She’s also responsible for the company’s Securities and Exchange Commission reporting and governance, and represents the company in negotiations with the newsroom’s union employees.
“I am honored to have earned Robert and the board’s trust and confidence,” Murray said. “I am excited about the company’s future and the opportunity to continue to execute on our strategy of becoming a sustainably profitable digital media company.”
Decherd praised Moise and Murray for their “clarity of vision” and their commitment to journalism “that will define us” into the future.
In 2018, when Moise was named The News’ president and publisher, he said he knew from a young age that he wanted to run a media company. Asked how he feels now, he said “it’s very humbling.”
“A lot of people in their careers have dreams but it doesn’t always mean dreams come true,” he said. “I’ve worked hard to earn it. And I plan to work even harder as we move forward.”