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Deseret News announces new publisher and editorial leadership changes

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Keith McMullin, president and CEO of Deseret Management Corp., right, announces Burke Olsen, center, as the new publisher of the Deseret News, with Sarah Jane Weaver, editor of the Church News, left, at the news organization’s office in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Deseret News Publishing Company announced today that Burke Olsen has been named publisher of the Deseret News.

The announcement was made by Keith McMullin, CEO of Deseret Management Corp., in a meeting with the Deseret News staff. Olsen assumes the publisher role from Robin Ritch, who was president and publisher for nearly two years.

Additionally, Deseret News announced that Doug Wilks, editor of the publication since 2016 and executive editor since 2021, will remain executive editor. Hal Boyd has been named editor of the Deseret News, a role he assumes in addition to his current duties as executive editor of Deseret Magazine

Ritch, a veteran executive with experience at Microsoft, Intel and Cisco, decided to step away from her role at Deseret News to pursue other career interests. 

“Robin’s specialty is coming into an organization and enabling a pivot based on a market need; she has effectively done that at Deseret News. We are very sorry to see Robin go and grateful for what she accomplished while here. We wish Robin the very best as she moves on. At the same time, we welcome these new leaders in their roles,” McMullin said. 

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Keith McMullin, president and CEO of Deseret Management Corp., center, is flanked by the Deseret News leadership team while announcing leadership changes at the news organization’s office in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. From left is Sarah Jane Weaver, editor of the Church News, Burke Olsen, newly named publisher of the Deseret News, Doug Wilks, executive editor of the Deseret News, and Hal Boyd, newly named editor of the Deseret News.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Olsen, Deseret News’ head digital officer for six years, previously was general manager and content director for the company’s websites and apps. He has extensive experience in content development, web technology, digital marketing and public relations, having previously worked for the Pew Research Center and PR firms in Washington, D.C., and Utah.

“I came here a decade ago to help get Deseret News reporting in front of more people online,” Olsen said. “Since then, we’ve seen astounding digital growth, and there’s room for much more. I look forward to working with our broader team to further improve our products, and grow our reach and business in support of the important work our journalists do for our readers.”

The Deseret Management Corp. leaders reemphasized the publication’s focus on expanding local, regional and national reach with a commitment to world-class journalism and commentary rooted in a heritage of faith and fundamental values. In recent years, Deseret has launched a magazine and transitioned from a daily paper to publishing twice a week. Deseret has also increased its digital reach by millions of new visitors to its websites each month. 

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Robin Ritch, outgoing president and publisher of the Deseret News, stands with Keith McMullin, president and CEO of Deseret Management Corp., at the Deseret News office in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

“We have been working diligently to increase the breadth of our reporting strength and reach across Utah, the Intermountain West and certainly nationally. We’re seeking to be a voice of truth and light with adherence to the finest standards of journalism,” Wilks said.

McMullin also announced elevated responsibilities for Sarah Jane Weaver, editor of the Church News, as the publication continues to add language translations and extends distribution globally.

Boyd, a former opinion editor and reporter for Deseret News, brings rich experience to the role of editor. Boyd recently worked as a faculty member at Brigham Young University and has written for various national outlets including The Atlantic, The New York Times, NBC News and the National Review.

“At home, I have an early issue of Deseret News hanging on the wall. It reminds me of the publication’s storied place in this community,” Boyd said. “We’ve been at this even longer than The New York Times, and we each feel a charge to honor and build on that legacy of excellence and commitment to truth.”

Deseret News is Utah’s oldest continuously operating business. Founded in 1850 by Latter-day Saint pioneers, the publication began with the motto “Liberty & Truth.” Deseret News is one of several media properties operated by the Deseret Management Corp., which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.