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Layoffs, new operating model at Deseret News

By Keith McCord  |  Posted Aug 31st, 2010 @ 10:30pm



 

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Deseret News has announced workforce reductions and unveiled a plan to refocus the quality and reach of its product.

Tuesday, the paper announced a 43 percent reduction in staff -- more than 80 full- and part-time employees, all of whom were given a financial separation package by the company.

Management says the move was necessary due to changes in the newspaper industry in general -- an industry that has struggled due to the huge growth of the Internet, making previous business models obsolete.

"Changes in the industry have forced some newspapers to fade or even close," said Clark Gilbert, Deseret News president and CEO. "At the Deseret News, we choose to lead and innovate."

The Deseret News has created a new plan that company leaders believe will be innovative and will attract readers all over the world for years to come.

The changes also include moving the Deseret News staff to the Triad Center to be integrated with KSL TV and KSL Newsradio. That combined force will contribute to all the Deseret Digital Media companies.

"With these changes we will have the largest integrated newsroom in the market, which means we'll have more reporters in the newsroom covering more stories than anyone else," said Gilbert.

Gilbert says many newspapers have simply cut costs to try to survive in the current media environment, with no plans for the future. Instead of just cutting costs to get by, the paper is instituting a five-part plan to make more efficient use of its resources and expand its editorial reach.

Part of that plan is the launch of a unit called "Deseret Connect," which will complement the integrated newsroom and utilize contributors from all over the world who will offer additional context and perspectives to the newspaper's print and online editions.

"Think of Deseret Connect as a great compliment to the core news product to the Deseret Media Companies, where we can reach out to other contributors from around the world to add context to many of the things that are being said in the news here locally and internationally," said Matt Sanders, director of Deseret Connect.

"We'll have our core newsroom; so our core team and names people are so familiar with and who have been a big part of the history of the Deseret News will still be there," Gilbert explained. "But these remote contributors will add to and expand that reach and influence."

Already more than 100 remote contributors have expressed interest in participating.

"If you want to really learn about an issue, come to the Deseret News, come to KSL, because this is where we are going to be treating the issues very seriously from a broad array of perspectives from people all over the globe," Sanders said.

The new strategy also includes more resources for deseretnews.com to enhance its offerings for readers around the world.

"We're doing so in in an aggressive and innovative way that allows us to see in the future that many millions of people will be accessing our content, so the potential reach for impact is much larger," said Chris Lee, general manager of deseretnews.com.

Meanwhile, Deseret News Editor Joe Cannon and publisher Jim Wall have chosen to step down and will pursue "other full-time personal and professional opportunities."

However, Cannon will remain on the paper's editorial advisory board and Wall will take on an advisory role to Gilbert to assist the organization in this transition.

CLICK HERE to read more about the changes.

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E-mail: kmccord@ksl.com

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