Tribune Editorial: Introducing The Tribune’s editorial principles and agenda

Welcome to the new Salt Lake Tribune Opinion section.

With today’s edition, The Tribune goes to a weekly print format, delivered (to most of you) on Sunday mornings, and available for sale in retail outlets throughout our coverage area. Beyond our delivery zones, the weekly is available by mail delivery.

Our 24/7/365 sltrib.com website, recently redesigned, is still going strong, providing up-to-date news, sports, features, entertainment and commentary. The Tribune’s new mobile app contains our content plus games and other features. And we will send our e-edition, a facsimile of print newspaper pages, to subscribers Monday through Friday mornings by email. There will also be an e-edition of the Sunday weekly.

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With these changes, the weekly Opinion section, like the rest of The Tribune, will seek to address issues in more depth, to bring in more voices and experiences and to place increased emphasis on finding solutions.

Our guiding principles

The Salt Lake Tribune is Utah’s leading independent voice, promoting truth, transparency, community building, fairness and the voice of the people. Along these lines, we aim to strengthen our democratic institutions, governance, voter awareness and participation in our state’s future.

Our editorial agenda

The Tribune’s editorial board will continue to comment and, we hope, provide leadership on the issues that matter to Salt Lake City, Utah and the West. While we must always be able to pivot in response to events as they happen, we have selected a few issues on which The Tribune editorial board will focus its attention in the coming year:

- Our communities: The events of the past year have made it that much more obvious that the American ideal of a nation with liberty and justice for all is far from our reality, in Utah as well as across the country.

Members of minority groups have been the target of police violence and have suffered disproportionately from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Women, especially in Utah, still lag behind men in salaries, professional opportunities and political representation.

Utah also must deal with its religious divide. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a global faith with its headquarters in the center of our capital city, continues to have great influence over the political, social and cultural landscape, even as an influx of people of different religions and ethnic groups adds diversity to the community that is to be welcomed and respected.

- Our environment and sustainable growth: Utah is the fastest growing state in the nation. One thing fueling that growth is that it is a public lands state, offering unique opportunities for outdoor recreation along with beautiful and peaceful vistas for human contemplation and restoration. The obvious conflict between growth and preservation will not be easily solved.

Further development of the state, and particularly of the Wasatch Front, must be planned in a way that incorporates higher-density, mixed-use projects, clean and efficient public transit and the protection of open space. All necessary steps must be taken to protect our meager water supply and improve the often foul quality of our air.

- Our students: The Salt Lake Tribune supports public education. It is no criticism of private or charter schools to realize that the vast majority of our citizens have, are and always will be educated in our public schools. They are key to social and economic mobility, for minorities, for women, for all of us, is a system of public education that leaves no child, no family, no community behind.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, families with lower incomes, or where English is not a household’s first language, have often been unable to keep up. The state’s ongoing unwillingness to fund its schools at even average levels has only made things worse. And uneven responses to the current public health emergency has seen the achievement gap grows even wider.

- Our homes. This is an issue that goes far beyond even the eternal problem of homelessness in Salt Lake City. Even those who have never been unsheltered often find themselves in substandard housing that eats up a disproportionate share of their income. An ongoing boom in housing construction, both of single-family homes and apartment complexes, never seems to keep up with the demand, especially when it comes to providing housing for working-class Utahns who cannot afford monthly rents upward of $1,200.

Those same trends have created friction in many parts of the valley as efforts to meet the demand for housing have left longtime residents feeling invaded and worried about the resulting crush on transportation, schools and other public infrastructure.

- Our health: All health is public health. The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated many weak points in our civilization, including not only an inadequate ability to respond to a public health emergency but also a system that leaves far too many households without access to necessary health care at an affordable cost.

Practically every nation we would consider civilized has faced this problem head-on and rightly considers universal access to health care a basic public service.

- Our jobs. Unemployment in Utah is low and there is more upward mobility here than in many other states. Still, the number of jobs that provide a family a living wage and opportunities for advancement is not what it should be.

This is a factor of both an inadequate number of high-wage jobs available here and an educational system that does not produce enough workers to attract and keep the enterprises that provide such employment.

- Our democracy: Institutions of democratic government are weakening in the face of social media propaganda and a growing lack of trust in our elected leaders and of one another.

Voter suppression tactics are widespread and election results are challenged on false pretexts. Public health measures are ignored, even shouted down, by those who falsely declare a worldwide epidemic to be a hoax.

These issues overlap in many areas, leave gaps in others. But they are important matters on which we plan to focus our attention, and on which we hope to hear from you.