The Deseret News turns 173 today. Here’s where we stand

Editor’s Note: 173 years ago, on June 15, 1850, editor Willard Richards launched the Deseret News with a commitment “to promote the best interest” and “welfare” of its readers. The following statement reaffirms the publication’s editorial values.

The Deseret News brand stands for unimpeachable journalism centered on the issues most core to the human heart, including faith and family. While the Deseret News has perpetually evolved to meet the demands of its audience — reimagining print offerings, launching an acclaimed magazine and increasing the visibility and reach of its award-winning website — the publication remains committed to certain timeless ideals.

“We hold ourselves to the highest court of truth,” the Deseret News’ inaugural issue declared. “When we speak, we shall speak freely, without regard to men or party.”

In recent years, media monitoring organizations have characterized the Deseret News as a reliable, fact-based publication and editorially in the center or right of center. But our positions are defined by principles rather than partisan loyalties.

Though independent in its editorial decisions, Deseret’s values are rooted in the teachings espoused by our owner, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have, for instance, called for greater unity, cooperation and civil dialogue while warning against the rise of contempt and violence in the public square.

A copy of the Deseret News from 1856 is pictured at the Triad Center in Salt Lake City, on Monday, March 13, 2023. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

We continually underscore the well-established sociological benefits of pro-social religiosity and stable communities. We champion the First Amendment, particularly America’s first freedom — the freedom of religion — as the font from which other precious freedoms of speech, press and assembly flow.

We’ve spoken out consistently and frequently against efforts to weaken the family as an institution, including the wanton sexualization of young people and the intellectual deconstruction of marriage.

We support the sanctity of life in every stage and emphasize the need to foster an environment — economic or otherwise — that protects and cradles the most vulnerable among us. We see the need for judicious regulating of vice which too often breeds addiction and ravages lives. We oppose the legalization of gambling and have stood against its recent incursions into the world of sports.

In concert with the First Amendment and a vibrant democratic process, the Deseret News is committed to the highest ideals of journalism. Professional organizations have recognized the work of our journalists over many decades with numerous commendations, including a Pulitzer Prize.

The Pulitzer Prize for journalism is pictured at the Triad Center in Salt Lake City, on Monday, March 13, 2023. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Week in and week out, our writers, editors and staff members produce crisp dispatches and well-crafted features informing millions worldwide. We pair news and the written word with compelling visuals and photojournalism. Policymakers and thought leaders value the Deseret News as a place to share ideas and engage with an informed, international readership.

In an age addled by caustic politicking and inane punditry, Deseret aims to model intellectual sobriety, thoughtful inquiry and considered discourse. We publish a range of viewpoints to foster constructive debate, and, from time to time, we espouse opinions our editors believe correspond to the best practices for prosperity and happiness. In all this, we seek to communicate with a spirit of generosity that embraces civility and the healthy give-and-take of pluralism.

The sign that graced the outside of the newspaper’s headquarters in the 1940s and 50s. | Deseret News archives

An educated and informed citizenry is vital to self-governance. And while government is essential to the well-being of society, it is also best when limited and bound in a manner outlined by the U.S. Constitution. For years the Deseret News’ editorial pages carried the epigraph: “We stand for the Constitution of the United States as having been divinely inspired.”

Few news organizations have been more consistent and outspoken in warning the United States to cease reckless overspending. We stand firmly in favor of fiscal responsibility, the entrepreneurial spirit and sustainable growth aimed at supporting a moral citizenry that cares for those in need. Human progress will always depend on cooperation, volunteerism and a communitarian ethos.

A historic Deseret News photo is pictured at the Triad Center in Salt Lake City, on Monday, March 13, 2023. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

The very origins of this publication date back to a band of impoverished refugees huddled on the banks of the Missouri River desperate to procure a printing press whereby they might together furnish their “children with books, and the Saints with new things to feast the soul.”

Today, we continue to champion the cause of refugees and those pushed to the margins of society through no fault of their own. We stand against discrimination. And on the contentious issue of immigration, we support a humane approach that is mindful of families while acknowledging the government’s responsibility to secure its borders and the individual’s responsibility to obey the law.

We have a divine duty to be wise stewards of the earth and to treat with care God’s most precious creation: His children. At the heart of Deseret’s editorial principles is Jesus Christ’s gospel, especially His teachings about how we treat one another, which extends to how we aspire to cover individuals in our reporting and commentary.

As Theodore Roosevelt said more than a century ago in his muckrake speech, “There should be relentless exposure of and attack upon every evil” practice, but such exposure is only of use “if it is absolutely truthful.” Until facts are established, we avoid the business of what one religious leader called “accusatory patriotism,” which tends to condition “citizens to become eager to believe the worst.”

The Deseret News Building pictured in 1897 at the corner of South Temple and Main Street in Salt Lake City. | Deseret News archives

The Deseret News stands for truth and light. It stands for faith and family. It stands for liberty and responsibility. It stands for the Constitution. Taken together, these principles are lodestars during times of tumult. Once printed from the presses of pioneers, the Deseret News seeks to follow these ideals today, echoing a wish uttered nearly two centuries ago — may “Deseret be as the star of Bethlehem, a guide to the wise of all nations.”

Hal Boyd is editor and Doug Wilks is executive editor of the Deseret News. Subscribe to Deseret News’ products here.