The Deseret News, a publication owned by the Mormon church, has 75,000 subscribers to its national print edition. This week, it launched a new digital site with a 10-part series on the Ten Commandments and the role they play in America today. Recently, Deseret collaborated with The Atlantic on a series about fatherhood in America (see, e.g., here). And thanks to Rod Dreher, I also now know that the newspaper's CEO has an intriguing elevator pitch for a conservative publication.
Here's what Clark Gilbert, the executive, told Nieman Journalism Lab:
“We heard a lot of people saying, ‘We read The New York Times and we watch Sean Hannity, and we hate them both.' They said, ‘We admire the rigor of The New York Times, but we don’t hear any of our values reflected there. Somehow we hear some of our values in Sean Hannity, but it feels angry and polemic.'
They were mashing together what the market wasn’t providing, which was a thoughtful news source that was journalistic and rigorous and accurate but was asking questions that really resonated to things that mattered to their family.”
This sounds too good to be true. I've been hoping for years that red America would start demanding better than the punditry of Sean Hannity, and that there would be more journalistic enterprises on the right that aspired to the rigor of the New York Times. I actually don't think anyone should hate or stop reading the Times, or rigorous, accurate publications on the right, just because they don't share its perspective. But it would be great if America had a greater diversity of ambitious publications that better served, reflected, and illuminated the values of various citizens.
Fox News pretends to be such an entity, but is actually a deeply cynical enterprise that too often draws on the worst rather than the best impulses of its watchers. It would be nice to see a more substantive, coherent sites steal some of its audience. Here's hoping The Deseret News publishes good work and spawns imitators.