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Deseret News Building

The Desert News is the oldest newspaper west of the Mississippi.

Deseret News Building

The Deseret News is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church first became involved in the newspaper business in June 1832, when W. W. Phelps published the Evening and Morning Star in Independence, Missouri.

Even after anti-Mormon mobs broke into the Phelps’s home and destroyed the press in 1833, the Church continued to publish various newspapers in Kirtland, Ohio, and Nauvoo, Illinois.

The new building for the Desert News is located one block south and one-half block east of the earlier building. From pioneer days, circulation has increased to more than one hundred fifty thousand readers every day. The Saturday edition includes an additional section titled Church News, which also circulates separately throughout the world.
Photo by David M. Whitchurch

Three years after the Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, the first edition of the Deseret News came off the press on June 15, 1850. Nearly 150 years later, on May 28, 1997, the new Deseret News Building was dedicated in Salt Lake City. This nine-story, circular building is constructed to represent a newspaper. The logo found at the top of the building is identical to the masthead in the daily newspaper, and the windows are mathematically designed to the exact measurements of the columns in the daily newspaper. In addition to the unique exterior, the interior contains the latest technology. Inspiration for the Deseret News came in 1846 as the Mormon pioneers were camped on the west bank of the Missouri River at Winter Quarters. As Brigham Young was contemplating the Saints’ future in the West, he recognized the importance of maintaining contact with the outside world. In the spring of 1847, President Young requested that William W. Phelps purchase a press and then transport it to the Mormon settlement in the West. Later that summer, Phelps borrowed sixty-one dollars from Alexander Badlam to purchase a Ramage press in Boston. Howard Egan, a future Pony Express agent, was designated to transport the press to the Salt Lake Valley in an oxen-pulled wagon. He arrived in August of 1849. Shortly thereafter, Brigham Young appointed Willard Richards as the first editor of the Deseret News. Then in June 1850, the first issue appeared, containing news that was both momentous and trivial. Although only two hundred copies were produced in the first printing, Brother Richards envisioned a bright future for the newspaper, selecting the motto “Truth and Liberty.”

Interesting Facts

  • The Deseret News was first published on June 15, 1850, making it the oldest continuously published newspaper in the West, as well as the first corporation in the state of Utah.
  • Over the course of 150 years, The Deseret News resided in several buildings, beginning in an old adobe hut that also served as a mint.