Sep 8, 2022 - News

New book chronicles the titan of Dallas media

Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

A former Dallas Morning News reporter has a new book about Burl Osborne, longtime executive editor and publisher of the paper.

Driving the news: Author Jane Wolfe will be at Dallas' Interabang at 6 pm Thursday to talk about the book, "Burl."

Why it matters: Osborne was a titan of local media, guiding the DMN through the legendary newspaper wars of the late 20th century. Under his leadership, the paper won a slew of Pulitzers and set what his obituary called a "benchmark for newspaper profitability."

  • After leaving the DMN in 2001, Osborne was chairman of the Associated Press.
  • He was also diagnosed with a fatal kidney disease as a child and became an early recipient of an experimental anti-rejection technique for kidney transplants. Later, he pioneered home dialysis treatment.

The big picture: Wolfe decided to write the book after seeing so much public denigration of the media over the last half-decade.

  • "I kept seeing phrases like 'fake news' and 'enemy of the people,' and I wanted to write a book that showed the other side," Wolfe tells Axios.
  • Oborne, who grew up in a Kentucky coal town, developed a reputation for what Robert W. Decherd, the CEO of A.H. Belo Corporation, called "unquestioned integrity."

What they're saying: While the biography doesn't include anything particularly salacious about Osborne's life, "Burl" does mention his occasionally ferocious temper.

  • "Burl didn't have much patience for people who didn't work as hard as he did, which was pretty much everyone," Wolfe says.
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