This is an archived article that was published on in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

People ask me this all the time: Why does The Salt Lake Tribune give away its content for free online? Why don't you charge for it, just like you do in print?

My answer: We are in a competitive market. If we charge, a portion of our digital audience will leave.

In July, I will have a much better answer: Become a member of By doing so, you will support our reporting efforts, you will have a stake in Utah's independent voice just like our print subscribers do, and we will reward you for your commitment.

It's no secret that The Tribune, like virtually all print and broadcast newsrooms around the country, continues to face tough financial times. Placing a pay wall around the website is one common strategy for raising revenue, but it hasn't gone so well for many newspapers. Some have reversed course and taken them down in a move to regain traffic.

Beginning next month, we will ask online readers to become members. It's strictly voluntary. After you have read five articles at, a window will appear asking if you are interested in our membership program. If you aren't, simply click "no thanks" and move on.

If you are interested in supporting the journalism that comes from The Tribune, you will be given two options:

Premium Membership • For $9.99 a month, you will have access to an advertisement-free, our site without commercial interruption. With no ads, the site has a cleaner look and is more responsive. It's our news, sports, features and opinion content — period.

In addition, premium members will get special invitations and priority admission to "Trib Talk Live" events, our ongoing series of presentations, most hosted by Jennifer Napier-Pearce, featuring newsmakers and discussions of topical issues. In the past year, these events have included an evening with columnist Robert Kirby, discussions on issues facing Mormon women, the debate over federal control of Utah's public lands, and the launch of our new book "Mormon Rivals" about Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman Jr.

Sustaining Membership • For $4.99 a month, you receive special invites to our events, but will not have access to the ad-free

The events, available to both membership levels, will include such things as outdoor photography workshops with Tribune photo staffers and discussions over coffee with the paper's editorial board and cartoonist Pat Bagley. We are planning events with columnists Paul Rolly and Ann Cannon, a college football preview with our beat writers and sports columnists Gordon Monson and Kurt Kragthorpe, a Sundance Film Festival preview with movie critic Sean Means, food events with Kathy Stephenson, and discussions about faith and religion with Peggy Fletcher Stack. Print readers will continue to be invited to these events through notices in the paper.

All members will be invited to be part of a reader network, people we tap for opinions and expertise about issues of the day. (Print readers also will be invited to join.) Again, participation is strictly up to you.

So why are we doing this?

To accomplish what all those people ask me about every day: enhancing our revenue from our website. But it is also a project to connect with you, our readers, to meet you face to face at our "Trib Talk Live" events, and to have more contact with you regarding your thoughts about the news of the day, and The Tribune's coverage of it.

Look for the debut of our new membership program early next month.

Kudos • The Utah Headliners chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists presented The Tribune with 13 first place awards at its recent annual banquet, including the best newspaper honor. We picked up another 40 seconds and thirds.

Among the honorees was Erin Alberty, presented with the top investigative reporting award for the exhaustive database she created of police-officer involved deaths in Utah since 2005.

Multimedia reporter Jennifer Napier-Pearce stepped outside the newspaper division to take the top prize in the radio category for best public-affairs talk show. She hosts "Behind the Headlines" every Friday at 9 a.m. on KCPW 88.3FM. Napier-Pearce also took a first for best podcast.

Other top awards: Kristen Moulton for education reporting (The Tribune swept the category); former staffer Kirsten Stewart for medical and science reporting (another 1-2-3 sweep); Peggy Fletcher Stack in religion/values reporting; Kurt Kragthorpe for sports reporting; Todd Adams for front page design; Rudy Mesicek for features page design; Robert Gehrke, Bob Mims, Matt Canham, Tom Harvey and former staffer Marissa Lang for spot news.

Our stories on Utah's public lands debate, led by reporter Brian Maffly, also took top honors for continuing coverage. Matt LaPlante, now a Utah State University journalism teacher, took first place with his ambitious eight-part look at an Iraq War veteran who, a decade after being wounded, decided to have his leg amputated. Online producer Amy Lewis and photographer Scott Sommerdorf joined LaPlante in winning best online multimedia for the series. The Tribune was singled out for its use of news-oriented social media.

Congratulations to a great staff.

Terry Orme is editor and publisher of The Salt Lake Tribune. Contact him at