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In this Sunday Edition, KSL's Keith McCord takes an in-depth look at the changes announced at the Deseret News. Utah's oldest newspaper has a bold new plan to stay profitable and stay in print.
Clark Gilbert, President and CEO of Deseret News, and Con Psarras, Vice President of KSL 5 News, discuss the future of the paper, KSL 5 Television and KSL Newsradio. Also, Chris Lee, General Manager of deseretnews.com, and Paul Edwards, opinion editor for the Deseret News, explain changes.
Segment 1: Future of the Deseret News
This week, the Deseret News announced the combination of newsrooms with KSL 5 Television and KSL Newsradio. This move will create the largest integrated newsroom in the market and leaders say it will create greater and more in-depth coverage.
We've created a framework and a process that we are very confident will enable us to not only cover the news well, but cover it in many ways more efficiently and with more depth and context than in the past.
"With this large newsroom, we have more reach and more coverage than ever before and that frees up other journalists to do the in-depth news and analysis. We call it enterprise reporting, but our viewers and our readers would see it as just in-depth stories that really matter and make a difference to them," explains Gilbert. "We will be able to do more of that today because of these changes."
"We've created a framework and a process that we are very confident will enable us to not only cover the news well, but cover it in many ways more efficiently and with more depth and context than in the past," Psarras says. "Sixty to 70 percent of the news of the day, of any given day, is what we will call commodity or calendar news. Everybody has it -- our competition on other stations has it, other newspapers have it. But it's that 30 or 40 percent that distinguishes you. And if you can isolate a group of people who can efficiently cover 60 percent and free up a large number of people to do what we call enterprise reporting, it will make a big difference."
They will see things that are familiar and reassuring and they will see new things as well. They will see some of the familiar voices they have grown to love.... They will also see us increasingly covering topics that reflect a set of values that really resonates with our audiences.
The idea of an integrated newsroom is not new and Psarras says the growth of digital media and the Internet have forced companies to look toward integration.
"The newsroom of the future really is multi-platform. And this is the genesis of that," Psarras explains. "This is a creation of an opportunity for people to learn and explore in a different medium, while at the same time maintaining an ability to cover the day's news."
Despite the changes, subscribers will receive the paper on their porches each morning.
"We have a great heritage in print and, you know, the Deseret News is the longest-running, not only media company, but company overall in the state of Utah," says Gilbert. "We plan to run well into the future."
But readers will see some new things in the paper.
"They will see things that are familiar and reassuring and they will see new things as well," Gilbert describes. "They will see some of the familiar voices they have grown to love.... They will also see us increasingly covering topics that reflect a set of values that really resonates with our audiences. We look at things like the family, or faith in the community, excellence in education, financial responsibility. These are things we know our readers care about and it matters to them."
It is critical to us to maintain a fantastic set of reporters inside the state who are covering the issues that matter to the people here in the state. But what we are seeing is this tremendous growth of people who want to connect to the state, perhaps because they have connections here and to the values that the Deseret News has always held up.
The changes to the Deseret News won't only impact the paper, but other parts of its operations as well. They include the creation of a new opinion panel and some changes to deseretnews.com.
Deseretnews.com has seen impressive growth in the last several years and much of the traffic comes from outside Utah.
"That growth has come not only in the state of Utah, where we have a strong presence and have hundreds of thousands of visitors every month, but from outside the state of Utah as well. We have over half our audience actually comes from outside the state," says Lee. "It's really surprising for a regional newspaper, like the Deseret News. That's a pretty unique kind of demographic, and we expect that will grow both within the state and outside the state. It is critical to us to maintain a fantastic set of reporters inside the state who are covering the issues that matter to the people here in the state. But what we are seeing is this tremendous growth of people who want to connect to the state, perhaps because they have connections here and to the values that the Deseret News has always held up."
The Deseret News introduced its new Editorial Advisory Board, a collection of thought leaders from around the country that will provide insight to the Deseret News, last month.
"We are very excited about the assembly of experts from around the country that are going to be helping us shape the context and the way in which we analyze and approach the news at the Deseret News," explains Edwards. "People are attracted to the distinctive voice of the Deseret News and we've been very successful at bringing local experts and experts from around the country who share our values."
The paper also recently introduced Deseret Connect, an organization that will cultivate a network of local and national contributors to create stories to be published in the Deseret News.
We are very excited about the assembly of experts from around the country that are going to be helping us shape the context and the way in which we analyze and approach the news at the Deseret News.
"There are experts who are connecting with Deseret News already from around the globe who are visiting our website and many of them have expressed interest in lending their expertise to us," says Lee. "We've launched a product called Deseret Connect that allows those people to access and be able to submit their contributions and have those contributions be edited and peer reviewed. We make sure that the content is coming from experts."
"And we expect these people to provide, to have a lot to say about lots of issues that they are experts in," he explains. "In just the first week of launching Deseret Connect we've had over a hundred people submit applications to be part of this effort."
Deseret News leaders are enthusiastic about the future.
"We are so excited about the opportunity we have to take the heritage of the Deseret News and propel it into this digital future," says Edwards.