Salt Lake City’s two major newspapers have been printing daily editions for more than a century, but now the presses only hum once a week as they work with other news organizations across the country to shift their focus online to stay afloat.
The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News ran their last dailies on Thursday as they joined others like the Tampa Bay Times and the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, who made the same decision in response to declining print and circulation revenues that weighed on the industry and led to a rise in new era of journalism.
The Tribune, which received the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Local Coverage, will continue to publish breaking stories online every day, but will only publish one printed newspaper per week on Sundays. The newspaper had printed every day for 149 years.
Deseret News will also publish daily news on its website, print a newspaper every weekend, and offer a monthly magazine that will appear in January. The newspaper had printed newspapers every day in its 170-year history.
The newspapers announced that they would no longer print every day in October.
The Tribune’s new weekly release is expected to feature the best corporate work and in-depth reporter stories, as well as obituaries and expanded editorial content.
“It won’t be exactly the same. And we hope you think it’s better,” the newspaper wrote in a statement. “We assure you our commitment to the news has not diminished.”
The decision came after two recent changes of ownership: The paper was bought in 2016 by Paul Huntsman, son of the late billionaire industrialist Jon Huntsman Sr. and brother of the former US-Russian ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr.
Last year, Paul Huntsman turned the Tribune into a nonprofit in hopes of ensuring its long-term viability amid declining newspaper revenues across the country. He cited ongoing declines and economic upheaval related to the coronavirus pandemic as he announced the decision to newsroom staff, describing it as a painful but necessary concession.
The decision also terminates a joint operating agreement with Deseret News, which belongs to the predominant belief of the state – Latter-day Saints’ Church of Jesus Christ. The agreement, which was once common when many cities had two newspapers, saw the two publications work together on printing, delivery, and advertising, but not on storytelling.
The Deseret News is named for the territory’s early title. The newspaper was born three years after the Pioneers arrived in 1847.
The newspaper has been working on expanding its digital offering for a decade to appeal to Church members and others outside of state, and now its digital readership is nearly 500 times the number of local print subscribers, Jeff Simpson said, President and Editor.
Doug Wilks, editor of Deseret News, said the publication would continue its “national leadership as a watchdog of the family and belief in the public place.”
“Change is never easy, especially when you change a reading habit,” he wrote in a statement. “However, our commitment to strong news coverage with new comment, analysis and opinion remains constant.”