SALT LAKE CITY The Deseret News, Utahs oldest daily newspaper, said Tuesday it will cut nearly half its staff and consolidate operations with affiliated television and radio operations to emphasize digital delivery of news on websites and mobile devices.
Executives said they plan to keep publishing the newspaper, which is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Deseret News said it was eliminating 85 newsroom positions, although some staff members will stay on for a transition period as the newspaper consolidates with KSL-TV and KSL Radio, which also are owned by the church.
Our plan actually expands news coverage and analysis even in the face of the economic realities we face, Deseret News CEO and President Clark Gilbert told The Associated Press. There isnt a newspaper in the country that is not facing economic pressures. We can make simple cost reductions or innovate and lead.
Gilbert said the 57 full-time and 28 part-time employees laid off were from throughout the newsroom and were given severance packages, although he did not provide details.
The newspaper said Joe Cannon no longer would serve as editor but would join its new editorial advisory board. Jim Wall is stepping down after 10 years as publisher and will serve as an adviser to Gilbert.
Layoffs had been expected for months, but Tuesdays announcement hit hard.
Two people were seen sharing a tearful embrace in the lobby, while cameras and reporters from other outlets camped outside the building. A security guard was posted at the newsroom door.
Staffers met individually with managers to learn their future. Some were released immediately, while others were being asked to stay on during a transition period that is expected to last four months.
Several reporters tweeted updates from a staff meeting, and at least one posted on Facebook that he was among the cuts.
Staffers contacted by The AP declined comment.
The newspaper will continue to publish seven days a week with contributions from readers, community figures, experts and TV and radio reporters. The outsiders will bring more opinion and analysis to the paper as well as write news stories that will be edited by staff professionals, Gilbert said.
We are in a period of massive innovation, said Gilbert, a former Harvard Business School professor and student of disruptive innovation, or transforming traditional business markets. Audiences are migrating from traditional newspapers to digital news sources, which allows us to reach more audiences than ever before.