Deseret News leadership recognized as Innovator of the Year

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 18 2013 8:30 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Clark Gilbert, CEO of Deseret Digital Media and the Deseret News, was named Innovator of the Year on Wednesday by the Local Media Association, a national trade group focused on the suburban and community newspaper industry.

The Deseret News is now among the top 25 online newspapers in the country, was the second fastest growing newspaper in America in 2012, and has expanded its circulation and reach in Utah and throughout the country on print, Web and mobile platforms.

Gilbert detailed the Deseret News innovation strategies in a Harvard Business Review article, "Two Routes to Resilience," that addressed the dual transformation essential for the future of the industry, repositioning the core newspaper business and creating a separate business using innovative media strategies.

"Clark is a true innovator, and we are lucky to have him in our industry," said Steve Hills, president and general manager of The Washington Post. "He has taken a disciplined strategic approach to the business and, by doing so, has created an expanded community of interest, building on the core Deseret News audience.

"On the business side of the Post, we watch what he has done with great interest," Hills said.

The Deseret News focused its editorial voice on six areas of coverage to include faith, family, care for the poor, values in the media, education, and financial responsibility.

The second transformation was the creation of Deseret Digital Media to focus on digital operations, distributing news and information while generating more than 30 percent revenue growth four years in a row.

That has helped provide support for a vibrant News Division of journalists covering news throughout the Wasatch Front of importance to Utahns and their families and reaching them on print, digital and broadcast platforms.

The Deseret News also launched a national edition of the Deseret News in 50 states, and a national syndication service focused on faith- and family-oriented content that is running with more than 200 newspaper partners around the country.

"It is gratifying to see the Deseret News being recognized by industry leaders, not just for its business model, but for its solutions-oriented focus to issues that families really care about here along the Wasatch Front and across the nation," said Paul Edwards, editor of the Deseret News.

The innovations and industry-leading work, chronicled by the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism in February, has drawn the attention of industry professionals who attended a transformation program created and hosted by the Deseret News for the American Press Institute and Poynter Institute that included representatives of the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times in Salt Lake City.

The Local Media Association hosted a webinar earlier this year to review the key points from Gilbert's Harvard Review article, presented by Deseret Digital President Chris Lee and attended by more than 100 senior media executives in the U.S. and Canada.

"The creation of Deseret Digital Media has proven to be a transformational innovation. Just four years since its launch, and thanks to the hard work of hundreds of employees, DDM has grown its audience and revenue to make it one of the strongest regional digital media companies in the country," Lee said.

Local Media Association President Nancy Lane said following the presentation many of those attending the webinar "made significant changes in their operation. ... It was the most impactful webinar in my nearly 13 years with the organization."

"No one is more deserving of this honor at this time in our industry. We are delighted to recognize one of the industry's boldest and brightest innovators," Lane said.

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