'Light and knowledge': Deseret Management Corporation unveils new mission statement

Published: Thursday, Jan. 7 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

Mark H. Willes (August Miller, Deseret News) Mark H. Willes (August Miller, Deseret News)

Deseret Management Corp., the for-profit arm of the LDS Church, has unveiled both a new mission statement and plans for increased teamwork among its Utah-based media companies. That mission statement, "We are trusted voices of light and knowledge, reaching hundreds of millions of people worldwide," will provide a framework for each of the companies and their products.

Mark Willes, president and chief executive officer of DMC, will formally unveil the mission statement during a daylong meeting Thursday of managers of the various media companies: Deseret News, KSL Television & Radio, Deseret Book and the newly created Deseret Digital Media. Among the principles are "integrity, civility, morality and respect for all people," he said.

"These are universal values. You don't have to be a church person to say civility is a good thing. This is consistent with the values not only of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but with all people of good will," he said Wednesday.

Deseret Management Corporation CEO Mark Willes in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, March 3, 2009.   (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Deseret Management Corporation CEO Mark Willes in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, March 3, 2009. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

DMC has been restructured in recent months from a holding company to an operating company.

The use of the word "light," Willes noted, is a powerful play on the many meanings of the word, embracing a traditional journalism goal of shining a light in dark places and the search for understanding and truth. The goal is to present compelling topics and stories that will be interesting far beyond the reach of a local newspaper or broadcaster. But that effort will improve local news-gathering as well. "You cannot be strong outside unless you're strong in your base," he said.

In most instances, there will not be significant changes in what each company does, said Willes, but all of the media companies will look for new and better ways to use the Internet to enhance both their offerings and their reach. And there will be times when they team up to more aggressively and thoroughly cover issues in the community, he said.

"Every business wants to grow and prosper," said Bob Johnson, president of KSL Television and Radio. "The new mission and values statements that are being introduced by the DMC companies point the way to our future growth. Our course is clear. KSL and its sister companies will more aggressively share resources to enrich our products and will be more deliberate in giving center stage to positive values in those products."

There's no requirement that employees of the various companies be LDS, Willes said. "If there is not diversity in your organization, you cannot succeed. ... If we don't have people from different backgrounds, from different points of view, from different religions and different places, we won't succeed."

The change comes at a time when newspapers, broadcast news organizations and even book publishers are facing challenges, said Joseph Cannon, editor of the Deseret News. The "coalescing" of these media companies points to a "positive strategy of growth and development."

"The Deseret News embraces journalism's principles of news relevance and timeliness while adhering to the highest standard of respect and dignity to our owner and readers and the subjects we cover," he said.

Willes noted that the mission statement is a lofty goal, "but when you set a very high goal, you cannot increment your way there. You have to fundamentally rethink what you're doing."

DMC values

Align actions: I honor principles espoused by our owner in the products and services I provide.

Pursue excellence: I am passionate about innovation and about delivering extraordinary results.

Champion virtues: I promote integrity, civility, morality and respect for all people.

Improve lives: I seek to lift, inspire and help others find enduring happiness.

Work together: I look for opportunities to productively collaborate with my fellow DMC employees.

Invest personally: I seek to instill light and knowledge in my work.

e-mail: lois@desnews.com

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