Via Twitter, this sad news — but not as sad as it could have been — came Thursday:
After more than 20 years and awards, Salt Lake Tribune cuts its weekly Faith section. Still have a job but so sad. http://t.co/71UjhGGYzp
— Peggy Fletcher Stack (@religiongal) April 10, 2014
From the Tribune’s story:
The Salt Lake Tribune cut eight newsroom jobs Thursday, eliminated its Faith section and announced plans to drop other key print features as part of cost reductions ordered by the newspaper’s New York-based corporate owner.
Managers laid off one part-time and seven full-time employees after an all-staff meeting with Tribune Editor and Publisher Terry Orme, who noted the newspaper chain Digital First Media had sought a 10 percent budget cut to bring expenses closer in line with revenues.
“We have good people in every position and a great staff,” Orme said. “Making decisions like this is agonizing because there are no good decisions. Nobody in this room deserves this.”
The layoffs — one each from the news, sports, editorial, photo, copy editing, page design, IT support and administrative departments — come after the paper lost four other newsroom positions through attrition in the past six weeks and let 19 staffers go in September.
Later in the story, the good news:
The Tribune’s Faith section has drawn national acclaim since its 1992 debut, raising the profile of coverage on Utah’s dominant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a wealth of other spiritual traditions in the state.
Award-winning religion reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack retains her job, and her stories will continue to appear prominently on news pages and at sltrib.com. Saturday’s column by Robert Kirby will also find a new home.
A couple of the reactions by past and present Godbeat pros on Twitter:
— Eric Gorski (@egorski) April 10, 2014
— Michael Paulson (@MichaelPaulson) April 10, 2014
This is, of course, not the first time in recent years that a major newspaper has cut its religion section. The Dallas Morning News, as Godbeat observers recall, once had the nation’s best religion section, staffed by at least four full-time religion journalists. Citing a lack of advertising, the News cut that section, and eventually eliminated all its religion writer positions.
Here’s hoping that the Tribune will maintain its commitment to the Godbeat over the long term. Meanwhile, click here to see a farewell to the Faith section.