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Salt Lake Tribune Begins Ad-free Membership Program For Online Readers

Whittney Evans
Salt Lake Tribune Editor and Publisher Terry Orme in his office.

The Salt Lake Tribune is asking faithful online readers to pay for an ad-free version of its website in an effort to boost revenues. The paper kicked off the new funding model today.

Salt Lake Tribune Editor and Publisher Terry Orme has a message for readers: “You obviously value our content and depend on our content, we would ask that you would help support our content.”

Sound familiar? It should. The paper’s new membership program is a lot like the public radio funding model. It’s voluntary, and it comes with perks. With a $10 monthly membership, online visitors get ad-free browsing, as well as free entry and first dibs on Salt Lake Tribune events. A $5 membership gets readers the events perk, but not the ad-free content. The membership program is separate from subscriptions meaning, readers who have a subscription to the paper will have to pay extra for the membership, but they still get invites and free admission to events.

An annual subscription to seven days of the Salt Lake Tribune is $243, more than double what Orme is asking to web browsers to pay for an ad-free version of the website.

David Newlin who does online-web content for the paper says about 3 million individuals visit per month.

Orme says the paper’s expectations are modest. He’s hoping between one and two percent of online visitors will sign up for a membership. And he says it won’t likely generate more revenue than advertising.

But he adds, “I think you want to put as many oars in the water that you can at this time to explore possible revenue streams and this is just another oar in the water.”

The Tribune’s corporate owners renegotiated the paper’s join operating agreement with the Deseret News in 2013. The resulting arrangement cut the Tribune’s profits from print advertisements in half. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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