After nearly 150 years of printing a daily newspaper, the Salt Lake Tribune will stop doing so at the end of the year and move to a weekly print edition.
The change won’t result in cuts to the newsroom staff of about 65 people, though some would be “redeployed,” the newspaper said. Nearly 160 press operators, carriers and other employees will lose their jobs.
The new weekly publication will be delivered by mail. Reporters and editors will continue to file breaking news online as it happens.
The shift comes after two recent ownership changes. The paper was purchased in 2016 by Paul Huntsman, son of the late billionaire industrialist Jon Huntsman Sr. and brother of former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr.
Last year, Paul Huntsman shepherded the Tribune into becoming a nonprofit organization in hopes of ensuring its long-term viability amid declining newspaper revenues nationwide. He cited continued declines and economic upheaval related to the COVID-19 pandemic as he announced the decision Monday to newsroom staff, calling it a painful but necessary concession.
“This is a historic moment in the industry, but one that reflects the reality of today’s news consumption,” Huntsman, who remains chair of the nonprofit board, said in a statement.
If local news goes out of business, the damage to our democracy will be severe and irreversible.
The new weekly publication is expected to be profitable, showcasing the reporters’ best enterprise work and in-depth stories, as well as obituaries and expanded editorial content.
“While we mourn the loss of our daily print edition, we eagerly embrace the opportunity of bringing an exciting new weekly product to our readers’ homes,” interim Editor David Noyce said.
The decision also ends a joint operating agreement with the other major daily in Salt Lake City, the Deseret News. That paper is owned by the Mormon church. The joint operating agreement, once a common arrangement in cities with two newspapers, had the two publications cooperating on printing, delivery and advertising but not on stories.
The Deseret News has not announced its future plans for print, but did say in a story on its website that it was laying off six journalists and giving severance packages to 18 staff members in the visual editing and sales departments.
The lack of gear and preparation for her expedition has led one local search and rescue team member to question how the woman survived the ordeal.
The change at the Salt Lake Tribune marks the end of an era that began in 1871, when daily press runs began for the publication then called the Tribune & Utah Mining Gazette. The newspaper once carried hundreds of pages a day, thick with print advertising. It had a daily circulation of nearly 200,000 subscribers in its heyday, but that has since plummeted to 36,000.
Scaling back printing is an emerging trend in the newspaper industry, which faces declines in advertising and circulation revenue, said Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst for the Poynter Institute.
The Tampa Bay Times and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette are among newspapers that have moved away from daily printed papers as the traditional business model gets pinched, he said.
The trend is disappointing for longtime newspaper fans like Edmonds, even if it’s understandable from a business perspective.
“Something is lost when you don’t print every day,” he said.