Tribune’s new board chair: We’ll still pursue the truth and tell the stories that others won’t

Retired SLC ad executive Tom Love shares his fundraising vision for keeping the news nonprofit’s voice alive and keeping Utahns informed.

Tom Love, a well-known Salt Lake City advertising executive and fundraiser with deep Utah roots, has agreed to help guide The Salt Lake Tribune into its next chapter as a nonprofit.

Love is taking over as chair of The Tribune’s board of directors at the behest of prior chair and wealthy businessman Paul Huntsman, who recently announced he is stepping down nearly eight years after first purchasing Utah’s largest newspaper. The board unanimously voted Love to be chair in late January.

“I’m absolutely in love with The Salt Lake Tribune,” the 63-year-old Love said in an interview. “I’ve been a reader and a supporter and a subscriber my entire life. I feel an intense obligation to do whatever I can to help The Tribune thrive, keep The Tribune voice alive, and continue to grow, and be Utah’s watchdog.”

Huntsman, a son of Utah billionaire philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr., bought The Tribune in 2016 from New York-based hedge fund Alden Global Capital. He led its conversion to a nonprofit in 2019 as The Tribune neared its 150th anniversary, making it the first U.S. daily newspaper to take go that route.

“The community owes a great debt of gratitude to Paul Huntsman,” Love said. “We would not have a Salt Lake Tribune today if he had not bought it.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Paul Huntsman speaks in 2021. He recently stepped down as chair of the nonprofit Salt Lake Tribune board of directors.

Love joined the nonprofit board in 2022 and retired in January from Love Communications, the influential ad firm he co-founded 25 years ago after a 12-year stint as a sales executive for ABC4 Utah.

He said his devotion of The Tribune and its mission propelled him to take the top post on its nine-member volunteer board.

“We have to hold leaders to account,” Love said. “We have to report the truth. To all of our subscribers and readers, we have to report on issues of great importance across the state of Utah. It’s a big job and a big deal.”

Love has been an adjunct professor at the University of Utah and served on the nonprofit boards of United Way and Utah Symphony|Utah Opera for over a decade each, including in leadership roles. He said he would bring deep experience in fundraising to help bolster The Tribune’s ability to provide quality journalism.

“I’ve worked with all the major leaders in the state of Utah, philanthropic, political and business leaders,” he said. “I count many of them as friends or business partners — and I intend to use those relationships on the fundraising side for The Tribune’s benefit.”

Nearly three years into being a nonprofit and reaching a steadier financial footing, Love said, The Tribune had impressive potential ahead in cultivating new funding sources.

“We have enormous opportunity to work with foundations, Utah families and individuals who have wealth and average citizens,” he said, “who all can play a role in helping keep us afloat and doing our mission and our work every day.”

Along with what he called “editorial leadership and opinion guidance,” Love said he placed a high priority on The Tribune’s mission of helping Utahns discern between truth and fake news.

“We’re in a very, very difficult time in the media world,” Love said. “There are a lot of bad actors out there who want to provide misinformation, who want to mislead and confuse. So it is ever more important that we can continue to report the truth as we know it and as we see it, and to do the very best job as a staff in reporting that truth to our public.”

He said he also is focused on strengthening The Tribune’s bonds with younger readers.

“How do we stay relevant or become more relevant to people under the age of 30, whose primary news source is TikTok?” he asked. “Our platforms and partnerships become even more important — and we will have to innovate.”

His ad firm helped The Tribune develop its strategy for winning subscribers when it launched an online paywall in 2018. Love described the TV, print and billboard campaign as one of the highlights of his career and said it encapsulated many of his own views.

“One of my favorite lines was: What is the price of democracy? $7.99 a month,” Love said. “My other favorite, and something I love about The Tribune: We tell the stories that others won’t.”