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The Tribune is changing again — but not our commitment to journalism

Published July 6, 2013 2:35 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

"There you go again."

I bet we will hear those words or something like them in the next few weeks from our print readers. It's true — we are at it again. Making changes. Reducing the size of our newspaper. Switching some resources to our online-only publications.

But you can hold it right there. We have no intention of abandoning our print readers or dropping our print products.

Many of us in the newsroom at The Salt Lake Tribune are old news hacks. We cut our teeth on print journalism. We cherish it above all other news media — even now.

By every measure and statistic available, it is clear more people get their news online than through print or broadcast. And even as the rapidly growing trend is to get news on mobile phones or digital tablets like iPad.

What is the cliché about stopping progress? Well, you know you can't. Like it or not change is upon us, and we have to deal with it.

Let me bullet point the changes we are making to the print newspaper to use less paper:

• The Money section will be more consumer focused. It will be a freestanding section three times a week, on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday. The other days of the week Money pages, including select stock listings, will be at the back of the front section.

• The Pop Top section on Sunday will not be a separate section. Content from it will move to the Mix section.

• The Wall Street Journal pages usually found inside Money will be found in the A section through July and discontinued as of Aug. 1.

• The Close-Up section that runs on Thursday is discontinued. Community and Prep Sports news will be found in the Utah and Sports sections.

Paper is very expensive and across the industry print publications are being squeezed. It is a way to cut costs.

I am not suggesting that print newspapers will disappear. Some will, undoubtedly. Some already have. But a newspaper like The Salt Lake Tribune has a lot of staying power. We are building our future with an eye to our past. A past that includes a strong commitment to journalism and independent news reporting that strives for balance, fairness and accuracy.

But as more readers are finding their news online, we want to be there for them. And we are. In style. Our newspaper site, sltrib.com won the newspaper industry's Eppy award last year as the best newspaper website with more than a million unique visitors.

The challenge for us is to continue to serve our print readers and to grow digitally where the growth potential is. All with finite resources.

It is no secret that newspapers have struggled to replace waning print advertising as a source of revenue. There seems to be no single or easy answer — no sure way to stop the loss of print revenue — no prescription to increase income online. Fortunately we have a very good newspaper agency — in MediaOne — to deal with the business side, and they do an extraordinary job for us. But suffice it to say our newspaper is not your grandfather's newspaper and won't ever be again. And the revenue won't, either.

News costs money. Local news is particularly expensive. I won't insult you by saying we can do more with less. We can't. What we can do is manage smartly, choose carefully and remain committed to Journalism with a capital J. We intend to keep the printed newspaper worthy of you — our readers.

It will probably shrink a bit more as readers continue to migrate to the Web. It is still the medium for people who prefer the look and feel of print. Some (like me) may always prefer it. Over time it may become the vehicle for enterprise, in-depth and investigative journalism — while digital news rules the breaking news media.

I wish I had a crystal ball.

Nancy Conway is editor of The Salt Lake Tribune.