New home for pioneer newspaper

"God bless the Deseret News!" declared President Gordon B. Hinckley May 28 at the dedication of the newest home of the 147-year-old, Church-owned daily newspaper.

At the invitation of President Hinckley, President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the nine-story structure, the newest addition to the downtown Salt Lake City skyline. President Monson has been associated with the newspaper for 49 years in one capacity or another, including 19 as chairman of the board of directors. He stepped down as board chairman last May when General Authorities, because of time demands, withdrew from membership on the boards of directors of business corporations.President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, also addressed the more than 200 invited guests gathered on the first floor of the new building. Other speakers included Gov. Michael O. Leavitt of Utah, Mayor Deedee Corradini of Salt Lake City, Deseret News board chairman L. Glenn Snarr, publisher Wm. James Mortimer, editor John Hughes, architect Kent Fairbanks and general contractor Alan Layton. Also in attendance were President Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve, and several other General Authorities.

The Deseret News was founded June 15, 1850, and today is the oldest, continuously operating business in Utah. The Deseret News has published the Church News since 1931.

President Hinckley, himself a Deseret News board chairman for 17 years - service prior to President Monson's tenure - remarked in a brief address: "Any institution which has served continuously since 1850 is entitled to a new building. You have it now. One hundred forty-seven years is a long time for any entity. . . . It deserves a salute."

The prophet said the building by itself will not make a great newspaper. Rather, he said, "it will take people, working in this building to make of this a tremendous voice in this mountain community.

"With this new facility, one of many it has occupied during its long history, it is poised to move forward to a better day than it has ever known. With this new building and under new leadership, it faces the future with high confidence to win and hold a strong and challenging readership.

"The past is not good enough; the present is not good enough. Constant improvement must be its goal for the future. `Truth Without Favor' must be its watchword. Able reporting and editing, fearless editorial advocacy, interesting features, a voice strong and bold and clear it must and will become for the future. May it be blessed to achieve a new and wondrous destiny as it moves into the bright sunlight of a new day."

In his remarks, President Monson reminisced about his many years as an employee of the newspaper, beginning in the classified advertising department in 1948. His wife, Frances, who was present at the dedication, worked for the newspaper before he did. He recalled that they met as University of Utah freshmen, and that at a 1944 New Year's Eve party she said she had to leave at midnight because she was working the next day. He wondered aloud what company required employees to work on New Year's Day and received the answer: the Deseret News. He later went to work for the newspaper.

President Monson evoked the memory of Elder Mark E. Petersen, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, now deceased, who worked as a Deseret News reporter and then ascended the ranks to general manager and chairman of the board. "He'd be mighty proud of your work and this lovely building. I think he would have a message for us, though. That message would be, `Now that we have the finest building in which to work, let us make certain that our efforts to our newspaper match in quality the building we occupy.' "

Regarding the newspaper's vision, President Monson noted that Dr. Willard Richards, second counselor to President Brigham Young, wrote in the newspaper's 1850 prospectus the motto: "Truth and Liberty." President Monson also mentioned the newspaper's watchword today, "Truth Without Fear or Favor."

"In harmony with our belief that the U.S. Constitution is an inspired document and that America has a special mission," President Monson said, "the Deseret News will defend and promote the principles of the Constitution and the great freedoms for which the nation stands; indeed, it will promote the free agency of all mankind. We view ourselves as being not just in the newspaper business but in the communication business. As technology or public preferences change, our methods of communication may change, but at all times ours shall be a voice for the principles of our owner, for the canons of responsible journalism and for all other righteous and compatible interests and causes."

President Faust, who served on the Deseret News board for 26 years, including service as vice chairman and chairman of the executive committee, also acknowledged the newspaper's longevity. "We also think that this building makes a statement about the future of the Deseret News and the confidence we have in its future. Of course, everything is changing in the communications world, and we'll adapt and we'll change with it."

In the dedicatory prayer, President Monson said, "We are aware of the newspaper's pioneer heritage and its role in today's society, and are pleased to be equipped to take our place in the world of rapidly changing technological advances."

Following the dedication, the dignitaries cut a ribbon, symbolically signalling the opening of the new building.

The building has 125,000 square feet, with the Deseret News occupying 90,000 square feet on six of the nine floors. The top floor is rented as office space; an Associated Press bureau is on the second level and, in keeping with city code, the first level is available as retail space.

With an exterior designed to represent a newspaper page, the building features the exact logo of the newspaper masthead on top and window lines in exact mathematical proportion to newspaper columns.

Its hallmark is a circulating staircase on one corner, enclosed from top to bottom in glass, presenting a dramatic appearance day and night. The circular theme is reflected throughout the building from the furniture design to the 2-inch-thick glass medallion in the boardroom ceiling with a world map carved into it.

Windows are of gray glass with copper coating, giving the building a purplish hue.

The newspaper's legacy is dramatically represented in the reception area with a working replica of the Ramage hand press on which the first newspaper copies were printed in 1850.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed