For 68 years Utah's citizens have enjoyed the benefits created by a joint operating agreement (JOA) between the Deseret News and The Salt Lake Tribune. While both newspapers have always had independent ownership and independent newsrooms, this agreement, which was permitted under the Newspaper Preservation Act, allowed the two organizations to collaborate on advertising and subscription pricing and to share the huge operating costs of printing and delivering their respective papers.
With the rise of digital distribution of news, and with an increasing number of readers now getting their news primarily online, the two newspapers independently determined to let the JOA expire at the end of its term, on Dec. 31 of this year. Each newspaper has developed its own strategy for independent operations outside the JOA, including meeting its print needs and moving forward independently in today's new environment.
"In the era of large printing presses, the benefits of these joint operating agreements were significant. But today's situation is different," says 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 has been an outstanding and constructive partner in the JOA in this financially tumultuous industry. As The Tribune moves forward, our commitment to our readers is unchanged: to provide reliable and informative news, analysis and commentary to our readers," says The Salt Lake Tribune Chairman Paul Huntsman. "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."
"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," says Jeff Simpson, publisher of the Deseret News. "With this change we can continue our focus on great journalism, serving our readers and growing our digital audiences across Utah and beyond."
Newspaper subscribers will continue to receive their newspapers, which now will be printed and delivered by The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News independently. With the expiration of the JOA, the two newspapers also will no longer share solicitation of advertising or subscriptions, shared administrative services or any other administrative functions.