Deseret News announces new media leadership team

Published: Thursday, Aug. 26 2010 4:31 p.m. MDT

Matthew R. Sanders

Deseret Digital Media

SALT LAKE CITY — The Deseret News is adding three members with broad and deep online experience to its leadership team — Christopher M. Lee, Matthew R. Sanders and Dave Bascom.

Thursday's announcement represents part of a plan to accelerate the digital growth of the Deseret News and deseretnews.com.

Each of the three brings noteworthy experience with online products and work and will utilize that leadership in developing a new media content model of the future to expand the reach of the Deseret News brand, according to a company news release.

The Deseret News will have access to the trio through its sister company, Deseret Digital Media, the leading digital media company in the Mountain West.

Lee joins the Deseret News from his position as the CEO of Heritage Makers, a privately held seller of Web-to-print products. He has held key leadership roles in several new media companies, including serving as director of business development at Ancestry.com and director of product management for MyFamily.com, a first-of-its-kind social network for families. He began his career with Monitor Group, a global innovation and strategy firm.

Lee said deseretnews.com will build on its heritage of local coverage of news and sports while using the power of the Web to engage an increasingly broad audience.

One small example is a new feature that allows sports fans to compete with experts to pick the outcomes of high school, college and pro football games. The feature will allow deseretnews.com users to compare their picks and get reaction in real time.

"The goals are to bring added perspective and engagement to the news," Lee said.

Lee holds a bachelor's degree from BYU and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

"The creativity and inventive thinking that has propelled Chris in other new media ventures will serve the Deseret News well as we lead deseretnews.com to further growth on the Web," said Clark Gilbert, president and CEO of the Deseret News and Deseret Digital Media, in the news release.

Sanders will lead a new organization called Deseret Connect, which will cultivate a network of local and national contributors to create relevant, insightful and engaging stories for the Deseret News. The writers will add to the overall content of the daily newspaper, which will maintain a staff of writers with a strong focus on compelling in-house content.

Sanders has held positions as an analyst at Forrester Research, the world's leading Internet research firm, and RAND Corp. He formerly served as the director of online instruction at BYU-Idaho, where he developed a network of online instructors that grew from two to more than 300 in one year — exactly the experience needed to assemble high-quality contributors from diverse backgrounds for Deseret Connect, the news release said.

Sanders plans to tap into available talent around the world — providing voices and stories to complement the core content of the Deseret News.

He believes many people will want to contribute. In the past two days, Sanders said he sent out 50 e-mails and 32 people have already applied to contribute.

Sanders said Deseret Connect writers will be grouped into four levels — contributors, correspondents, columnists and editorial members. Interested writers may apply at deseretconnect.com. Deseret Connect will carefully screen the career backgrounds of contributors, their Internet reputations and more, Sanders said. Training will be provided as well. He believes the values espoused by Deseret Connect are common and will transcend religion or nationality.

Sanders earned a bachelor's degree from BYU and a masters in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Bascom will help Deseret Digital launch several new business initiatives. He also will help strengthen the reach of brands like deseretnews.com through optimized online search technology.

Bascom is the former president of SEO.com, a national leader in search and Internet marketing. He is a widely recognized industry leader in search and new media business models, participating on several prominent blogs and speaking at national search conferences such as Search Engine Strategies. Bascom has been active in search engine optimization since 1998 and founded SEO.com's predecessor, Web Targeted, in 2003.

Bascom graduated from BYU with a degree in marketing communications.

"Each of these industry professionals brings experience in helping companies embrace new technologies and become more innovative in the new media space, which we will utilize even as we continue to print a daily newspaper," Gilbert said. "We have a great heritage in print. We have a tremendous future online."

The Deseret News is Utah's oldest continually published daily newspaper. The company also publishes the Church News, Mormon Times and El Observador de Utah. The Deseret News is a part of Deseret Media Companies.

e-mail: lynn@desnews.com

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