SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- The Deseret News today announced a bold new direction to provide innovation and leadership at a time when daily newspapers throughout America are struggling to define a course for the future. Deseret News CEO and President Clark Gilbert unveiled several new initiatives, including the creation of Deseret Connect, a broad and uniquely qualified group of story contributors, a new Editorial Advisory Board and the expansion of the news reporter base to include professionals currently working with sister company KSL Television and NewsRadio. These initiatives will increase the depth and quality of the Deseret News' daily newspaper. As part of these changes, the organization also announced a reduction in workforce.
In making the announcement, Gilbert cited the root causes driving changes that are common among newspapers everywhere. "We are in a period of massive innovation," said Gilbert. "Audiences are migrating from traditional newspapers to digital news sources, which allows us to reach more audiences than ever before. These shifts have caused some newspapers to simply cut costs, causing them to fade in influence. We choose to innovate and lead. Today we announce a five-part plan for our future."
Five pioneering content initiatives uniquely position the Deseret News to lead positive change in the news industry:
- The expansion of news coverage capabilities by integrating resources with KSL. This coordinated newsroom will create the largest news reporter base in the state. It gives the Deseret News more reporters on the ground covering more stories than any other local news source. This allows the paper to continue its in-depth coverage of topics such as high school and college sports, school districts and state and local government. The Deseret News staff will move to the Triad Center, the location of the KSL Broadcast House, to promote greater synergy in coverage and operations.
- More in depth coverage from the organization's strong journalists on relevant issues audiences care most about, including voices the Deseret News audiences has come to trust, such as Dick Harmon, Jay Evensen, Lee Benson and Ann Cannon. It will also include new voices such as Paul Edwards, who recently joined the newspaper's editorial team.
- A new editorial advisory board, a world-class group of renowned thought leaders who will provide Deseret News readers with breadth and depth in opinion and insight through editorial guidance. These leaders are spread across the country, allowing the Deseret News to expand nationally in nature and scope.
- The launch of Deseret Connect, a collection of remote experts who will provide high-quality, relevant stories on a regular basis. This content will be qualified, edited and peer reviewed. "We have attracted people from across the nation with impeccable credentials and the highest respect of their peers," said Gilbert. "We have been very gratified that these people have agreed to contribute and we are excited to see the unique content they will provide for our readers through this innovative approach."
- Digital innovation and a world-class web team that brings specialized skill sets for the newspaper's online product.
Underlying all these changes is a renewed commitment to the Deseret News' mission and values. Feedback from readers has been a key driver throughout a very thorough analysis. Readership of the Deseret News grew by 20 percent in 2009, the highest growth rate of any newspaper in the country. Deseretnews.com attracts the most traffic of any online newspaper site in Utah, serving approximately 24 million page views to nearly 2 million unique visitors per month, according to Deseret News' online analytics.
"Our readers have been clear that they want more than information," Gilbert continued. "They crave and deserve insight, context and thought leadership relevant to the events and issues of the day from sources they trust. The values we champion are time-honored concepts that belong to people of goodwill around the world. Our new direction positions us to deliver on the expectations of our current and future readers."
Like many leading news sources, the Deseret News will bring a distinct voice to the marketplace – a voice which is driven by its values. As part of the entire vision, six areas of focus have emerged from these values. These six themes are:
• The Family
• Financial Responsibility
• Excellence in Education
• Care for the Needy
• Values in the Media
• Faith in the Community
Part of this industry leadership requires the Deseret News to adapt its cost structure to the new realities of the print publication and refocus efforts on the quality of its product. An unfortunate but necessary part of the new direction will result in a 43 percent reduction in workforce effective today, which represents 57 full time employees and 28 part time employees. A number of these employees will be part of a transition team for the next few months. All employees affected will receive a separation package that is generous by industry standards, and outplacement services to assist them in this change.
The vision and direction has already drawn national praise from industry leaders.
"All of us involved in the newspaper business have been challenged to adapt our traditional newspaper business model to our new realities," said Mark Contreras, Senior Vice-President of E.W. Scripps, Chairman of the Newspaper Association of America. "The Deseret News team has showed courageous leadership, not just to make the difficult decisions around costs, but to define a broader and more digitally-focused future."
"What is remarkable about what is happening at the Deseret News is that they are becoming Exhibit A for the future of news in this country," said Clayton M. Christensen, a nationally recognized new media leader and professor at Harvard Business School who recently chose to join the paper's editorial advisory board. "I would expect you will see the Deseret News become the model of growth and innovation for the entire industry."
More detail will be shared in the Deseret News in the coming days. To speak with Clark Gilbert, please contact Ashley Murray at (877) 702-0486. Gilbert will be participating in a live Twitter session at 3:30 p.m. today under @deseretnews.com.
About the Deseret News
The Deseret News is Utah's oldest continually published daily newspaper. The publication is a trusted source of local and national news serving a growing global audience. Other publications of the Deseret News include the Church News, Mormon Times and El Observador. Deseret News is a part of Deseret Media Companies.
SOURCE Deseret News