As a Church-owned periodical with a largely secular function, the Deseret News carries on a tradition that began soon after the Church was organized.
Throughout the Church's 167-year history, its publications have been legion, beginning with The Evening and Morning Star, published at Independence, Mo., from 1832-34.But of the many Church publications that have existed over the years, as listed in the 1989-90 Church Almanac, most are doctrinal journals or magazines; only a handful are newspapers. Typically, a Church-owned newspaper came about from temporal expediency, filling a need for an organ of mass communication in a settlement to which the Latter-day Saints gathered in response to divine revelation.
Hence, the list in the almanac begins with the Upper Missouri Advertiser, published at Independence, 1832-33. It includes the Northern Times in Kirtland, Ohio (1835); The Wasp (1842-43) and The Nauvoo Neighbor (1843-45) in Nauvoo, Ill.; the Frontier Guardian (1849-52) and the Western Bugle (1852) in Kanesville, Iowa.
The Deseret News began publication in Salt Lake City in 1850. The fact that it started just three years after the pioneers entered the Valley of the Great Salt Lake is evidence of the value early Church leaders placed on the printed word in maintaining an orderly and wholesome community.
The newspaper was among enterprises the Church established in the settlement to meet vital economic needs. Many of those enterprises have been divested over the years, but the newspaper has been retained, providing the Church with an influential editorial voice in the greater Salt Lake community and in Utah.
Also, the Deseret News remains the parent publication of the Church News, begun in 1931 as a weekly supplement to the newspaper. Today, the Church News has an international circulation separate from the Deseret News.
Like other Church-owned enterprises, the Deseret News is entirely self-sustaining; no Church funds are used in its operation.
Today, the Deseret News is the oldest, continuously operating business in the state of Utah.