When I meet with people who care about The Salt Lake Tribune, they ask me how we’re doing.
And then they brace themselves for bad news. This is understandable. The health of American newspapers has been well documented, and it is not good.
More than a quarter of newspapers have disappeared in the past 15 years. Today, half are owned by financial institutions that routinely lay off journalists, sell assets and raise prices in an effort to maximize profits.
Until Paul Huntsman bought The Tribune in 2016, we were owned by a hedge fund named Alden Global Capital. Over the past five years, we have become the only major metro newspaper to transition to a nonprofit, we have left a joint operating agreement and moved from printing seven days a week to one (more on that below).
Today, when people ask how we’re doing, I have the privilege of sharing good news.
We celebrate 150 years this year and we are healthy. We are sustainable in 2021, and we have no plans to return to a previously precarious position.
The Tribune newsroom is 23% larger than it was a year ago. We’ve welcomed a three-member Innovation Lab reporting team, a west Salt Lake Valley reporter and a second southern Utah reporter. We’ve also added to our digital team and our editing ranks. We’ve invested in long-overdue cameras and lenses for photographers, and provided a 401(k) match and parental leave for our employees.
Structural changes, the ability to sell our own advertising and print subscriptions that came with our exit from the joint operating agreement, a focus on what matters to readers and, critically, your support have helped us achieve sustainability.
The Tribune will welcome more journalists in 2022, because you’ve told us many times over that this is what you want and because if we are not holding those in public office to account, there are few others who will.
We plan to make additions and improvements in many spaces.
Here’s how we will invest in the year ahead:
• In 2022, we plan to practice more solutions-oriented journalism, to bolster our business and education reporting, and to reimagine our food and culture journalism, adding reporters who will help us do all of these things. We will also invest in video.
• Starting in January, we will offer an additional e-edition on Sunday. Many of you have told us you enjoy the Sunday newspaper but our in-depth reporting leaves you wanting for the day’s news. Look for a small Sunday e-edition, in addition to the weekend paper that is available in print and via e-edition, with “live” news, sports results and more.
• Many readers have told us they want to pick up the paper more often. We will publish a second printed edition each week, delivered by mail to your home every Wednesday.
The paper will include what you’ve told us you want: more accountability reporting, more state and local news, things to do, and additional puzzles and comics. We will continue to offer a “live” e-edition on Wednesdays.
There is no change in the cost for existing subscribers, for either the added printed paper or the additional e-editions.
If you appreciate reading The Tribune, however, and want to support our future growth, we invite you to become a supporting subscriber and to make a tax-deductible donation.
Journalism is so critical to the health of our communities that the freedom to practice it is enshrined in our Constitution.
We are grateful you have stayed with us through many ups and downs. We are listening. And we are honored you have helped The Tribune reach this point.
Lauren Gustus is executive editor of The Tribune.