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Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune end partnership, Trib goes weekly

FILE: A staff operator uses the line-o-type machine to prepare plates for the printing press at the Deseret News in 1968. At the end of 2020, the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune will end their printing partnership, and the Tribune will go to a weekly edition. (Photo: J. M. Heslop, Deseret News Archives)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Deseret News and The Salt Lake Tribune announced they will end their printing partnership at the end of the year, and at that time the Tribune will switch to a weekly print edition, delivered through the mail. 

The two newspapers have operated under a joint operating agreement (JOA) for 68 years, deciding independently to end that arrangement when the JOA expires on Dec. 31, 2020, the Deseret News reported

Digital needs in a digital age

“In the era of large printing presses, the benefits of these joint operating agreements were significant. But today’s situation is different,” said Brent Low, President and CEO of Utah Media Group, which manages the printing facility. “Demand for a printed newspaper is a fraction of what it was historically, while digital content and distribution is everywhere, and our clients can get their papers printed in a cost-effective way without owning their own presses.”

The Deseret News announced staffing changes Monday. According to the paper, those changes include “severance packages for 19 employees, the majority in the newspaper’s visual editing and sales departments, some of which will occur some time next year. Six journalists in three departments were let go.”

The Deseret News did not offer details about its print plans moving forward. 

Salt Lake Tribune to go weekly

In announcing the move to a weekly print edition, the Salt Lake Tribune said it plans to retool its website, and will continue to focus on breaking news in that digital space. Its board of directors announced the move Monday, saying the weekly edition would focus on in-depth reporting. 

The weekly edition will be delivered through the mail, the Tribune said. Print subscribers who want to keep getting the weekly edition will find themselves automatically subscribed. Their subscription will include free access to the paper’s digital products as well. 

The Tribune plans to announce more details for subscription plans in November, ahead of the end of the JOA.

The printing partnership

“The Deseret News has been an outstanding and constructive partner in the JOA in this financially tumultuous industry,” said Salt Lake Tribune Chairman Paul Huntsman. “As The Tribune moves forward, our commitment to our readers is unchanged: to provide reliable and informative news, analysis, and commentary to our readers.”

“In 2019, The Tribune became the first legacy newspaper to become a nonprofit organization. It is now a community asset managed by a board of directors drawn from the community. As a nonprofit organization, in addition to reader subscriptions, it will be able to accept donations from supporting subscribers and gifts from philanthropic organizations,” Huntsman said.

“The Salt Lake Tribune has been a great partner over the years and the partnership has benefited the community in many ways. We love our thousands of print subscribers along with the millions who read us online every month,” Deseret News publisher Jeff Simpson said.