Moab Times-Independent donated to The Salt Lake Tribune, will become nonprofit

The Moab newspaper, publishing for 127 years, aims to “evolve” as a source of information for readers in southeast Utah.

(Moab Times-Independent) The Moab Times-Independent, coming off its printing press. The 127-year-old paper will soon transition to nonprofit status.

The nonprofit news business in Utah is getting bigger, and readers across the state — and especially in the Moab area — will reap the benefits.

The Times-Independent, which has published in that Grand County community continuously for 127 years, will transition to a nonprofit later this year — with The Salt Lake Tribune, which has been a community-owned nonprofit since 2019.

In a letter to readers, printed in the Moab paper’s Thursday edition, Publisher Zane Taylor said the move was “important for The Times-Independent to evolve so it remains essential to all Moabites.”

Lauren Gustus, The Tribune’s executive editor, said The Times-Independent is a good fit for transitioning to nonprofit status because “it’s sustainable, it’s profitable. And this is equally important: It’s doing good work. It’s doing essential local reporting that the community appreciates.”

[Read the letter from Taylor: It has been my family’s honor to serve Moabites]

As The Times-Independent moves to nonprofit status, the paper’s readership will expand — because every resident in Moab will receive the paper free, once a week, by mail. Also, stories on The Times-Independent’s website will be free, without a subscription.

“By increasing the reach and that circulation, that greatly increases the advertising value of the paper,” Taylor said in an interview ahead of Thursday’s announcement. “It’s just a different business model for the future.”

The Times-Independent will continue to operate its newsroom, led by Editor Doug McMurdo, out of Moab.

Under the partnership, The Times-Independent will have access to The Tribune’s reporting from across the state. In return, Gustus said, The Tribune will include, in its print and online editions, stories from The Times-Independent’s reporters “to lift up and amplify good local journalism from our partners in southeastern Utah.”

[Read the letter from Gustus: Celebrate the start of something special with us]

The Tribune will help run the business operations of the Moab paper, including overseeing printing and layout, as well as bringing the Moab paper’s employees under The Tribune’s human resources umbrella.

For years, The Times-Independent has been printed on its own presses at the paper’s offices in Moab. Taylor has been the paper’s press operator for the past 25 years, as well as serving as publisher.

“I run the press, I do bookkeeping, public notices, fix the swamp coolers, and act as boss here and do payroll, and just wear all these different hats,” Taylor said. “If something doesn’t fit someone else’s job description or their abilities, it falls to me.”

Taylor will not go into full retirement mode with the switch to nonprofit status. He will serve on The Times-Independent’s new advisory board.

Taylor’s family, Gustus said, “has given a lot” to The Times-Independent. She said she witnessed that on a recent visit to Moab, where she watched the paper’s Wednesday night press run.

“[Taylor’s] wife showed up, the dog showed up...(reporter) Sophia (Fisher) put on her smock, and everyone participated in that press run,” Gustus said. “That’s a tremendous commitment, and you’ve got to meet it. If you’re not there, the paper doesn’t come out.”

The Times-Independent first published in 1896 as the Grand Valley Times. A few years later, early in the 20th century, L.L. “Bish” Taylor — Zane Taylor’s grandfather — acquired it from his brother-in-law. A merger with its rival, the Independent, followed shortly after that.

Samuel Taylor — Bish Taylor’s son, and Zane’s father — took on publishing duties after returning from service in the Korean War. Samuel’s wife, Adrien, became co-publisher and editor — while also raising four children, Zane and his siblings Tom Taylor, Sena Hauer and Jed Taylor.

Taylor has scheduled an open house, for Moab residents to give their input on the nonprofit transition, on July 26 at 6 p.m. at The Times-Independent’s offices at 35 E. Center St., Moab.