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SL Trib editor comes to USU to dispel ‘myth of the dying newspaper’

March 22nd, 2011 Posted in Opinion

LOGAN—“Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” That quip, attributed to one-time newspaperman Mark Twain, is Nancy Conway’s theme when she comes to Utah State University next week to deliver a Morris Media & Society Lecture.

Conway, editor of The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah’s largest daily newspaper and the nation’s 82nd largest, will deliver her a report on the health of the industry, “The Myth of the Dying Newspaper,” on Tuesday, March 29, 9-10:15 a.m. in Eccles Science Learning Center room 046.

The event, sponsored by the Department of Journalism and Communication’s Morris Media & Society Lecture Series, is free and the public is invited to attend.

Despite widespread and well publicized deaths in the U.S. newspaper family over recent years, Conway argues that news organizations like hers are not only alive and well, but thriving.

“Many people still read newspapers,” Conway says, pointing to a 2010 study that found that about 50 percent of adults still depend on newspapers as a primary news source. The challenge, she says, is for traditional newspapers to make the transition to the new media.

“News is everywhere today—in print, via broadcast, on the Internet, and through our cell phones,” Conway said. “No wonder some folks complain about being overwhelmed by information. It feels like just too much to sort through.”

One of the ways for people to make sense of all that information is to depend on traditional, credible news sources like the Tribune, which Conway says is staying ahead of the new media game. “About 67 percent of news consumers get their news on ‘legacy,’ or traditional, news provider sites such as the Salt Lake Tribune,” she observes.

Like all “dead tree” news products, the 140-year-old Tribune, “Utah’s Independent Voice Since 1871,” has been challenged in making this transition to Web-based news delivery, incorporating multimedia, social media and other ways to connect with the audience.

Conway will describe the demands that she and her staff confront in keeping the Tribune relevant and important in people’s lives.

She also will address issues surrounding the controversy over the Utah Legislature’s changes to the state’s open-records law, the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA), which reduced citizen access to government information. The new law, HB477, drew criticism across the state and nationwide, and has prompted Gov. Gary Herbert to call for a special legislative session to reconsider the issue.

In addition to her public lecture, Conway will meet with students and participate in a Q&A about these and other media issues.

Conway’s visit is underwritten by the JCOM Department’s Morris Media & Society Lecture Series, a regular program of public presentations by media professionals addressing a range of issues concerning the intersection of the mass media and society.

Next in the Morris Lecture Series:
• April 14: RonNell Andersen Jones
, a 1996 JCOM alumnus, former newspaper editor and clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, is now a law professor at BYU. “The Blame Game: The People, The Press, and the U.S. Supreme Court.”

For more information about Nancy Conway’s appearance or other events in the Morris Media & Society Series, contact Ted Pease in the JCOM Department at 435-797-3293.

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