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|Big Changes at the Deseret News?|
Aug. 27th, 2010 at 12:57 am
Full disclosure (to prevent threats of lawsuits): I used to deliver the Deseret News as a child.
Rumors have been swirling for a while now about big changes at the Deseret News. If you are interested in a thorough discussion of the possibilities I suggest listening to last Monday’s episode of RadioWest. Possible changes include laying off a third to half of the staff, cutting the number of days that the print edition is published, moving into KSL’s building and sharing more operations with KSL, and making an effort to reach out to Mormons outside of the Wasatch Front.
Much of what is discussed there hasn’t happened yet, but some big announcements have happened this week. On Tuesday a new editorial advisory board was announced. Included are familiar LDS names such as Sheri Dew, Clayton Christensen, Jane Clayson, and Matthew Holland.
Thursday the “New Media Leadership Team” was introduced.
So what does this mean for the future of the paper and Mormon media?
Blogs are on trailing end of a wave of popularity as even less substantial means of commutation are coming to the fore. But the old media have seen the sudden success of opinion based “news” and have rushed to emulate it, because it can be done on the cheap. Look at how Newsweek has flushed itself down a toilet to become a higher brow, slightly smarter print edition of the Huffington Post. This has worked so well for Newsweek that the venerable magazine was recently sold for $1. I don’t mean a copy of the magazine. I mean the whole company. We’ve subscribed for years but after the recent changes, we canceled our subscription.
The Editorial Advisory Board looks to me like the starting lineup of a Mormon Huffington Post. I have no idea if this will broaden the appeal of the paper outside of the Wasatch Front. Instead of producing news it looks like it is aimed at producing influence. The sort of articles that people will link to on Facebook.
The New Media Leadership Team made up of a guy that ran a digital scrapbooking company, a director of online instruction from BYU-Idaho, and an SEO guru.
I assume that these guys are going to make the Deseret News and Mormon Times an online juggernaut. None of them seem to have any journalism experience, which means they fit in well with the editor of the paper Joe Cannon.
I should probably add another disclaimer here. I am about as related to George Q. Cannon as Joe is, so perhaps I should be running the paper.
In any case, I am sad to see the Deseret News transforming itself from a local paper that reported the news (most of the news anyhow, there has been some filtering, but not much) to a Church-owned Mormon opinion and lifestyle operation, meant to serve Mormons and not the people of Utah.
Now we’ll have a quasi-official mouthpiece of the Church that can take a stand on the most irrelevant of issues. I doubt that the new Deseret News will show as much diversity as the recent PR campaign has. They should have just bought Mormon Mentality instead of going through all this effort. We’re much cheaper than their SEO guy, and we allow for dissent!