From the Editor: Stinky issues and good news

Farm Forum

While we love to complain about the weather here, let’s be happy we don’t have the TV weather person come on our screens to say, “There is a lot of lake stink out there today.”

I learned about Salt Lake City’s lake stink last week while at a conference of newspaper editors from our company.

Lake stink develops, it turns out, when the marshlands of the Great Salt Lake bordering the city create algae. About 12 times a year, the algae grows and dies, with the wind coming off the lake and blowing the stink into the city.

But it’s not only the stink, it’s the dusty tan haze in the sky. Walking from the hotel to the restaurant after the conference Friday, it looked and felt like we were in a mild sandstorm.

Only this sandstorm had a taste — salty and fishy.

And so, “lake stink” is a weather event worthy of mention on TV news in Salt Lake City.

We were far above the haze, with a lovely view of the skyline and the mountains surrounding Salt Lake in our fifth-floor conference room at Deseret Digital Media, the hosts of our conference. Our editors were at this company to learn about the success Deseret has found in creating and reimagining products — print, digital, radio, TV — to best fit the needs of its audience.

Last year, I wrote about the “pillars” of the Deseret companies, including strengthening families, faith in the community, financial responsibility and care for the poor.

The Deseret leaders explained to us that those areas are more than just traditional newsroom beats, but, instead, inform the way their reporters and editors approach every story they cover.

The paper has left behind or minimized some traditional coverage areas — such as court reporting, minor accidents and fires, statehouse policy — in favor of deeper reporting on issues that affect their readers directly.

Deseret did one very smart thing from the start: deep research into just what their audience wants, and just want the company can provide. They didn’t guess what would work, they put numbers together that told them, “This will work.”

We have been meeting with our customers here, to give us feedback about our coverage. Special attention is being paid to our digital products.

As I write this, we’ve finished Day 1, and I heard some great feedback about the kinds of things we do well, what we should do more of and mistakes we are making that shouldn’t be repeated.

This is all a roundabout way to explain how we are listening to our audience/readers/customers and making the adjustments to provide the kind of news and information they want, when they want.

That doesn’t stink.

Faith page changes

Our new Faith page begins Saturday. To recap, we will not have the long calendar, but, instead, will feature a weekly minister/church Q&A along with briefs of things going on in our local faith community.

Reporter Jeff Bahr will put those together, as well as concentrate on writing more stories for the news pages that may be about faith or religion issues, or touch on those to tell good stories.

I’ve been pleased over the past couple of weeks to talk to so many representing our local churches. In all the years of compiling the Faith calendar, I am not sure we’ve truly had as much communication with churches as we’ve had during this changeover.

That portends good things for this new initiative.

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