Love & Gustus: Four years in, more changes as The Tribune works to better serve Utahns

We became a nonprofit in 2020. Today we announce leadership changes and where we are improving.

After four years as a nonprofit, we are making changes at The Salt Lake Tribune in an effort to better serve you.

Since becoming the first major metro news organization in the U.S. to make the transition, we have continued to serve as a beacon of accountability journalism in a state where government, faith and business are closely intertwined. We strive to surprise and delight with coverage of Utah’s culture, major sports moments and in celebration of those who are doing right in their communities.

There is no news organization like The Tribune, and yet local journalism isn’t easy.

Misinformation continues to proliferate online. Reader habits are ever changing. Issues of trust and news fatigue persist. We face technical challenges when it comes to making it easier for you to consume our product across digital platforms.

One of our goals is to remove as many of these barriers as possible. It’s one reason why we are making our election coverage free, including dozens of race-specific voter guides. This is a big commitment, and it is possible because you and others like you support us.

It is not the only work you have made happen. The Tribune also has retained and recruited some of the smartest and most driven people in journalism.

It’s Jessica Miller, uncovering a wrong that should be righted. And Mark Eddington’s coverage of how southern Utah continues to change, whether we’re talking endangered tortoises or new reservoirs. Courtney Tanner on higher education, a lens into the future of our state. Tony Semerad on how we grow. Gordon Monson’s latest take. Peggy Fletcher Stack, Robert Gehrke, Pat Bagley and Bryan Schott, all Tribune institutions. Every day they chase down public officials and others who would rather not hear from The Tribune — or anyone else.

It’s the folks down in Moab who joined us in 2023, when The Times-Independent became part of our nonprofit family. And a host of newer reporters doing engaging journalism rooted in those who are affected by the news of the day, including most recently University of Utah beat reporter Jason Batacao, who brings with him Big 12 experience, and Jose Davila IV, who is reporting from the Salt Lake Valley’s west side. Then there’s the editorial board, keeping important issues in front of engaged readers every week, and Voices Editor Sara Weber, who is seeking perspectives that don’t seek out The Tribune.

Plus the editors, product team members, our page designers, visuals journalists, opinion and engagement journalists, advertising team members, our human resources coordinator and so many more who make it happen every day.

Today, we announce the appointment of Executive Editor Lauren Gustus to also serve as The Tribune’s first-ever chief executive officer. In this role, Lauren will continue to report directly to The Tribune’s board of directors.

Gail Miller, left, and Lauren Gustus at the NewsMaker Awards in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023.

Additionally, Ciel Hunter, will now oversee both philanthropy and advertising as our chief development officer. She’ll work closely with Lauren, as well as Danyelle White, who now oversees our product, audience, marketing, planning and engagement efforts as chief of content. Lauren will continue to work closely with our senior managing editors, Sheila McCann and David Noyce, who oversee all of the journalism and who continue to bring their invaluable expertise to The Tribune.

As we embark on this new era, we are grateful for the partnership with Chris Stegman, who left The Tribune in May to form his own advertising agency. Chris served as The Tribune’s revenue leader since 2020 and helped return The Tribune to sustainability.

We are operating a different kind of business in a historically challenging environment. Our objective is not to return a profit to shareholders but to ensure The Tribune grows and thrives for another 150 years. This is the commitment of our board, under new chair Tom Love (our board recently welcomed two new members as it seeks to add talent and to diversify the leadership of this critical institution).

Our focus is not only on our journalism but also on the sustainability of our business.

Moving forward, you’ll see a few changes in how we operate on the business side.

First, we are eager to share more information about the financial health of the organization in a way that’s easy to understand. Reporter/columnist Andy Larsen will share a data-centered breakdown of our revenues and expenses in the weeks to come. We’re also going to reevaluate advertising displays on mobile devices and sltrib.com on your larger screens in an effort to declutter as we balance user experience and revenue. Finally, we’re continuing to experiment with making more of our journalism accessible to more people by removing the paywall for some stories and by ensuring Tribune journalism is where people are (YouTube, newsletters, etc).

For more than 150 years, our core mission has been to bring essential news to Utahns. As a reader, supporter or subscriber, you make this possible. We will do all we can, with your continued and much-needed support, to ensure The Tribune’s future remains strong.

Lauren Gustus is executive editor and CEO of The Tribune. Tom Love is board chair.