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Editor column: Online readers are about to get a new Tribune

Published August 30, 2014 10:32 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In coming days, visitors to sltrib.com will see something different: a cleaner design with many entry points to the rich content produced by our newsroom.

Content will be organized in a number of ways on the new sltrib.com, including stories that are trending, a list of the latest breaking news, and a column of editor's picks — stories that are important, or particularly good reads, and deserving of reader attention.

The new look will draw attention to the photojournalism produced by The Tribune and from wire services, with multiple galleries of news, sports and cultural events from Utah and around the world.

Perhaps the new feature with the most impact is how sltrib.com will look when opened with an Internet browser on a smartphone or tablet. The new site employs responsive design, which automatically sizes the page to fit the screen. Instead of seeing a small sltrib.com home page on your iPad, you now will get a more readable format that adjusts to the size of your tablet and whether you hold it horizontally or vertically.

Now, smartphone users are directed to The Tribune's mobile site. With the redesign, that site no longer will exist. If you have it bookmarked, don't worry, you will be redirected to the new sltrib.com and its responsive design.

This new design offers an alternative to our apps on iPads, iPhones and Androids. Of course, they remain available and we are planning updates for them as well.

As with any major change that involves technology, glitches are a given. We expect to keep them to a minimum but ask for some patience in the first days. If you see a problem, please point it out to sltrib.com">webmaster@sltrib.com.

We're excited about the redesign, particularly the features for hand-held devices. For me, the new sltrib.com has a more traditional newspaper look, a nod to our roots. At the same time, the redesign is about the digital future and better presenting the fine journalism produced day in and day out by The Salt Lake Tribune. We want to make it accessible and engaging on any platform you choose.

I'm often asked about the role The Tribune plays in Utah. I respond that we are here to inform and explain — to not just tell you what happened, but why, and what is likely to happen next. One word that keeps coming up is "watchdog." We are the eyes, ears and investigators working on behalf of Utahns.

The best way to explain what we do is to show an example. How about last Sunday's front page?

The lead story, by environmental reporter Brian Maffly, reveals that a Colorado company has been piping tainted water from gas and oil drilling operations into Utah, where it has sat in evaporation ponds, releasing tons of toxic chemicals into the air for the past six years. The company operated without an air-quality permit and provided state officials with false information about the environmental impact of its operation.

Another story, this one from federal court reporter Tom Harvey, gives the details of how the criminal case against a man once accused of running one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in Utah history fell apart and was dismissed by a federal judge who also lambasted prosecutors for their incompetence.

The third story on the page, this one from government reporter Chris Smart, focused on the Aug. 5 landslide in North Salt Lake that destroyed a home and threatened a neighborhood. Smart's reporting reveals that officials paid no attention to an 11-year-old geological study that warned of a dangerous layer of clay bedrock that, when wet, could produce slides. A 2013 study, commissioned by the developer and accepted by city planners, made no mention of the bedrock.

Each of those stories takes a hard look at how government doesn't always serve the public good. They are examples of what we do here in the newsroom. We dig, ask hard questions and then provide answers the public needs and deserves. That's what Utahns expect from us, and we work hard to meet those expectations.

Terry Orme is editor and publisher. Reach him at sltrib.com">orme@sltrib.com.