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Belo Buys Pegasus News:Whither Their Local Arts Coverage?
by Jerome Weeks 17 Jul 2012

More than anything, the Dallas Morning News seems to want Pegasus News’ database of restaurant and nightlife listings. So what happens to its cultural news content?

CTA TBD

The DMN‘s business blog released the news yesterday evening: Belo has purchased Pegasus News, the local “news and entertainment” site, from PanLocal Media. As both Frontburner and Unfair Park have noted, this does not seem like a serious investment in “hyperlocal news” (despite the way the release pitches it) so much as it’s a way to bolster the News‘ restaurant and nightlife database and possibly improve its maddening-to-use GuideLive listings.

This is the tell-tale paragraph from the release:

Rich Alfano, General Manager of The Dallas Morning News’ Arts and Entertainment business, said, “Pegasus News allows us to reach more consumers and strengthens our ability to provide the latest and most relevant information about places to visit, events, music and restaurants.  Pegasus News’ hyperlocal data provides consumers with information on approximately 225,000 places, 5,000 events, 4,200 restaurants, 2,500 bands and Friday Night specials.”

Which brings up an unpleasant question, the kind that business announcements rarely ever answer: If the real target is all that data on bands and restaurants and drink specials, what will happen to the actual original content providers? Will Pegasus’ staff and freelancers be essentially “folded into” the News?

In which case, there will be redundancies. For instance, the News already has a restaurant critic and a theater critic. So what will happen to reviews from Teresa Gubbins, Pegasus’ food critic (and former News colleague) or the musical-worshipping theater critic John Garcia? (Garcia, admittedly, has his own website, The Column, but it doesn’t seem to draw much in the way of advertising.)

It’s a question worth pondering because a major reason a number of arts and entertainment websites were established or expanded the past four years — Art&Seek, FrontRow, Theater Jones, The Mixmaster, Glasstire, This Week in the Arts, Art This Week and so forth — was not just the growth of the online audience. It was the serious decline in cultural coverage by established print media: Just last week, the Star-Telegram laid off its film critic, Chris Kelly.

So the News‘ acquisition of Pegasus — as it often is when a company buys a competitor — could well lead to a shrinking of product choice for the consumer (and employment opportunities for area writers). Whether you ever read Pegasus or not, whether you considered its critics worth paying attention to or not, that’s not a happy outcome — for anyone, except the dominant media outlet.

The press release:

DALLAS, July 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ – The Dallas Morning News announced today that it has acquired Pegasus News(www.pegasusnews.com), an online news and information business serving Dallas-Fort Worth, from PanLocal Media LLC, a subsidiary of Archstream LLC of Dallas.  The purchase further strengthens The Dallas Morning News’ position as the leading source of up-to-date local news and entertainment information.

Rich Alfano, General Manager of The Dallas Morning News’ Arts and Entertainment business, said, “Pegasus News allows us to reach more consumers and strengthens our ability to provide the latest and most relevant information about places to visit, events, music and restaurants.  Pegasus News’ hyperlocal data provides consumers with information on approximately 225,000 places, 5,000 events, 4,200 restaurants, 2,500 bands and Friday Night specials.”

Sarah Blaskovich, Editor of Pegasus News, said, “By combining Pegasus News’ content and technology with The Dallas Morning News’ distribution, marketing and sales capabilities, we are creating new and exciting opportunities for Pegasus’audiences and advertisers.  It’s an exciting time for digital news and information companies like Pegasus News, and we’re thrilled to be teaming up with the largest creator of proprietary local news and information in Dallas-Fort Worth.”

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