Dallas Morning News’ iconic ‘Rock of Truth’ monument made the move across town. Sort of.

December 5, 2017
Category: Tech & Tools

Taking a selfie in front of the Dallas Morning News' downtown building has become a tradition. And on Friday, staff gathered to take their final photos in front of the "Rock of Truth," as the building's known thanks to the quote out front, before moving into their new space Monday.

The Dallas newsroom joins other newspapers around the country that have left big, often aging buildings for smaller ones. Those moves show a few things that probably aren't surprising at this point: 

Newsrooms are shrinking, and the cost of maintaining, not to mention modernizing, old spaces has become too much.

But there are also opportunities to shift culture and process with moves to smaller spaces. 

In October, the American Press Institute released a report looking at how newsroom spaces are transforming along with the organizations inside. From the report:

"Whether you are solving logistical challenges, downsizing, overcoming space limitations or trying to encourage new ways of practicing journalism, this research suggests space renovation is a valuable exercise in identifying your organization’s core culture and personality. Not only can renovation make your space more efficient and support new workflows, it can encourage collaborative behaviors and help raise employee morale."

Other newsrooms have also left buildings that became iconic for the journalists who worked inside them. When the Minneapolis Star Tribune moved, the medallions on the outside of the building were relocated. And next year, the Chicago Tribune will move from its "cathedral." 

As The Dallas Morning News said goodbye to the old space (and lots of odd stuff they found inside), the story it told its audience was about what the move meant to the newsroom and the community. 

Architecture critic Mark Lamster wrote about what the Morning News' move into the home of a renovated library signifies:  

"How very different this is from the paper’s departed home on Ferris Plaza, the so-called Rock of Truth. That Olympian bastion, set back from and elevated above the street, sequestered reporters behind the massive stone tablet that gives the building its name. 'Build the news upon the rock of truth and righteousness,' it reads. 'Conduct it always upon the lines of fairness and integrity. Acknowledge the right of the people to get from the newspaper both sides of every important question.' Like the building itself, that well-meaning maxim is now obsolete."

You can take a drone tour of the new space here.

The Morning News has officially left the "Rock of Truth" behind, but they did bring a smaller version with them. Instead of being carved in stone, this one is etched in glass. 

It seems like a pretty good metaphor for local journalism right now — transparent, principled and fragile.