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What Can Newspapers Learn From Public Radio?

Salt Lake Tribune
"Salt Lake Tribune marquis". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

The Salt Lake Tribune is taking a page from the public radio playbook and asking for people to become members.

As you listen to KNPR, you have heard us ask you to become a member of the station many times.

After all, membership is Nevada Public Radio’s largest source of financial support and it allows us to maintain our independence.

But in the ever-changing media landscape, can commercial news outlets use this method as well to try to achieve fiscal sustainability?

Well, the Salt Lake Tribune, in Salt Lake City, wants to find out. It introduced a membership model to try to raise additional revenue.

The editor and publisher of the Tribune, Terry Orme, talked to KNPR’s State of Nevada about the membership model, and why the newspaper decided to implement it.

"I liken it to putting another oar in the water," Orme said. "You have your advertising, you have your print subscriptions and print advertising, this is just another oar in the water to try to get another revenue stream."

The voluntary membership as two tiers. The premium membership allows people to access an advertising free website and access to special events the newspaper holds monthly for a $9.99 monthly fee. 

The second tier allows people access to the events but not to an advertising free site.

The Salt Lake Tribune's main competition is the Deseret News, which is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Orme said that independence has helped the Tribune cement a unique place in the state.

"We occupy a special place in the hearts of many Utahns, and so we're trading a little bit on that goodwill," Orme said.

Orme said in the week since it was launched they have had hundreds of people sign up, but he expects that number to rise when summer ends and people return to their normal routines.



Terry Orme, editor and publisher, Salt Lake Tribune

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)