The Tribune will hire a full-time data reporter. Here’s how we plan to use them.

This collaborative effort will fuel meaningful, data-informed content and richer storytelling.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) A field of cut alfalfa in Delta on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. Tribune journalists recently culled and analyzed data to report that Utah’s alfalfa and hay crops account for 0.2% of the state’s gross domestic product each year and use 68% of our state’s available water.

This story is part of The Salt Lake Tribune’s ongoing commitment to identify solutions to Utah’s biggest challenges through the work of the Innovation Lab.

Tribune journalists recently reported that Utah’s alfalfa and other types of hay account for 0.2% of the state’s gross domestic product each year and use 68% of our state’s available water.

Those are powerful numbers.

It took time and expertise – from federal and state employees and Tribune journalists – to compile that data and to provide context to the complex topic of water use and conservation in Utah.

To make informed decisions, we need good data. And if Utahns are going to ensure our communities are strong, we must make good decisions.

“Reporting based in data and anchored in trusted, credible and quantifiable sources is essential to identifying these issues and in surfacing solutions,” said Executive Editor Lauren Gustus.

Today, The Tribune is announcing it will hire a full-time data enterprise reporter. The collaborative reporting initiative, grounded in data, is paid for by a privately funded grant from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

The Tribune will retain full editorial independence over reporting that originates in the newsroom. The position will be housed in The Tribune’s Innovation Lab, which is also supported by philanthropy and which focuses on solutions-oriented reporting.

The explanatory work will be brought to life through various forms of storytelling – including videography and richly informative graphics – and presented across social media platforms as well as at sltrib.com and in print – all of the places people are spending their time pursuing news, social connection, cultural trends and more.

The work will also be shared with partner news organizations through the Utah News Collaborative. This effort allows sharing of important content throughout the state.

“The Gardner Institute is in the business of sharing accurate and understandable information that helps Utah prosper,” said director Natalie Gochnour. “This partnership with The Salt Lake Tribune will extend the reach of our economic and demographic expertise and increase the frequency of data-informed reporting. The end result will be a more informed citizenry, a goal both The Tribune and Gardner Institute share.”

The Gardner Institute is based at the University of Utah’s Eccles School of Business and develops and shares economic, demographic and public policy research to help people make informed decisions.

The partnership will maximize the distribution and understanding of data and research of the Gardner Institute, as well as other reputable sources.

This new position will further cement The Tribune’s commitment to data-driven work. Andy Larsen will continue to write his popular data analysis column, which he began producing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tribune and Gardner Institute will meet quarterly to review upcoming data releases and research efforts that may be of audience interest. The partners expect those topics to be rich and thought-provoking, including examinations of economic conditions and outlook, demographic trends, public finance, economic development, housing/construction/real estate, tech and life sciences, racial and gender equity, energy, defense/aerospace and more.

To ensure even further engagement with the community, the collaboration will include four public events each year, hosted at the University of Utah’s Thomas S. Monson Center and focused on data-grounded, solutions-focused conversations important to Utahns. The first forum will take place Feb. 22, with a dive into the challenges surrounding the state’s rental housing market. More information will come.

Interested in the job? Apply here.