?Deseret News? Lays Off 43% of Staff in Sweeping Newsroom Reorganiztion

By: E&P Staff

Like USA Today last week, The Deseret News in Salt Lake City, Utah, Tuesday unveiled a sweeping newsroom reorganization combined with layoffs.

In its case, the Mormon Church-owned daily is reducing its workforce by 43%, shedding 57 full-time and 28 part-time employees. “Part of this industry leadership requires the Deseret News to adapt its cost structure to the new realities of the print publication and refocus efforts on the quality of its product,” the newspaper’s announcement said.

Among those losing their jobs are Editor Joe Cannon and Publisher Jim Wall, reported The Salt Lake Tribune, the MediaNew Group-owned daily that is the Deseret News’ joint operating agreement partner. The two will be “leaving their positions for advisory roles” News staffers were told at a meeting, the Tribune’s Paul Beebe reported on its Website.

The newsroom reorganization entails not just a realignment of beats, responsibilties and a priority shift from print to digital – but physical changes as well.

Deseret News reporters will be combined with journalists at its sibling broadcast company KSL Television and NewsRadio. Deseret News staff will move this fall to the KSL Broadcast House “to promote greater synergy in coverage and operations.”

The combination will create the largest news reporter staff in Utah, the News announcement said, and “gives the Deseret News more reporters on the ground covering more stories than any other local news source.”

“Audiences are migrating from traditional newspapers to digital news sources, which allows us to reach more audiences than ever before,” Deseret News President and CEO Clark Gilbert said. “These shifts have caused some newspapers to simply cut costs, causing them to fade in influence. We choose to innovate and lead. Today we announce a five-part plan for our future.”

The newspaper also has a new editorial advisory board, “a world-class group of renowned thought leaders” who were chosen from across the country “allowing the Deseret News to expand nationally in nature and scope.”

Members of the board were not immediately identified, except for
Clayton M. Christensen, the famed Harvard Business School professor.

“What is remarkable about what is happening at the Deseret News is that they are becoming Exhibit A for the future of news in this country,” Christensen said in a statement included in the announcement.

The News is also launching  “Deseret Connect,” which it described as “a collection of remote experts who will provide high-quality, relevant stories on a regular basis.”

“We have attracted people from across the nation with impeccable credentials and the highest respect of their peers,”  Gilbert said. “We have been very gratified that these people have agreed to contribute and we are excited to see the unique content they will provide for our readers through this innovative approach.”

The reorganized newsroom will “bring a distinct voice to the marketplace” with a focus on six areas “driven by its values,” the News said. The six themes are the Family; Financial Responsibility;  Excellence in Education; Care for the Needy; Values in the Media; and Faith in the Community

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