Deseret News case study
Your task is to explore the individual, organisational and environmental conditions that were influential
in the Deseret News case study and comment on the ways in which those conditions have
impacted on the subsequent performance of the firm. Also comment on how the conditions
have enhanced or detracted from its sustainability potential for the future.
o Discussing the nature of the �climate for change� created by the actions of individuals
working at Deseret News, the structural design model adopted in the case study and the
dominant characteristics of the operating environment
o Debating the extent to which Deseret News actions to date have represented an
appropriate change response
DESERET NEWS CASE STUDY 2
Deseret News case study
This paper explores the environmental, organizational as well as individual conditions
which were influential in the Deseret News case study. The paper also comments on how
those conditions have actually impacted on Deseret News’ subsequent performance on the
company. Moreover, how the conditions have detracted or enhanced from the company’s
sustainability potential for the future is discussed.
At Deseret News, the environmental conditions which were actually influential
include new technologies, low-cost start-ups and market shifts (Nadina 2011; Konno, Nonaka
& Ogilvy 2014a). The specific environmental conditions include the following: the first is
internet start-ups such as AutoTrader.com, Monster.com and Craigslist which siphoned off
classified revenues from Deseret News (Gilbert, Eyring & Foster 2012). Second is free news
websites such as social media websites, the Huffington Post, and smart phones that diverted
the attention and time of readers and in so doing drying up subscription dollars; and third is
Google’s search-term advert which competed with Deseret News for display-advertising
revenues (Gilbert, Eyring & Foster 2012). These environmental conditions have impacted on
the subsequent performance of Deseret News in that they assaulted the company’s business
model resulting in significant revenue decreases (Konno, Nonaka & Ogilvy 2014b). It is
notable that declining readership of Deseret News traditional newspaper hit each of the
company’s revenue streams at the same time and from the year 2008 to the year 2010, the
company lost 70 percent of print classified revenues and 30 percent of its print display-ad
revenues (Gilbert, Eyring & Foster 2012).
The individual conditions which were actually influential at the company include the
actions of key personnel including members of the firm’s leadership team who did not see the
DESERET NEWS CASE STUDY 3
situation as a hopeless one. The leadership team initiated 2 different efforts: on the 5 th floor of
their corporate head-offices in Salt Lake city, members of the company’s leadership team
established Deseret Digital Media, a new company, aimed at taking over Deseret News’
websites and focusing solely on web publishing, and on the 1 st floor, they reconceived the
print operation (Gilbert, Eyring & Foster 2012). Some of the individual conditions include
the nature of the climate for change that was created by the actions of Deseret News’ key
people who mainly include publisher Christopher Lee and the firm’s chief executive officer
Clark Gilbert. These key individuals along with others repositioned the news company to
refocus its print content. Christopher Lee was the main individual who led the development
of Deseret Digital that made use of online opportunities further than just repurposing the print
newspaper (Gilbert, Eyring & Foster 2012).
The main organizational condition was the fact that the firm dismissed twenty-eight
part-time and fifty-seven full-time staff members in 2010 August. The company devoted
fewer resources to routine and sports news, and invested more to producing investigative and
in-depth journalism in 6 aspects of editorial emphasis including fiscal responsibility,
education, faith, family, care for the poor, as well as the influence of the media on values.
These conditions have enhanced the company’s sustainability potential for the future since
the company managed to successfully adjust its existing business model to become profitable
and found new ways to make use of opportunities available in the new digital landscape
which helped the company to pull through and recover (Whelan-Berry & Somerville 2010).
In essence, the actions of this news company have represented a rather suitable
response to change. This is largely because Deseret News managed to successfully reposition
its core business and create a new model resulting in increased revenue and profitability. It
repositioned its core by changing into a much leaner, local print broadsheet that provided
detailed coverage of matters pertaining to faith as well as family, plus a similarly focused
DESERET NEWS CASE STUDY 4
periodical targeted at countrywide audiences that could sell at higher-margin countrywide
adverts (Gilbert, Eyring & Foster 2012). It developed a new model, Deseret Digital, to
capture the higher-volume, lower-margin, opportunities made available by the internet’s
greater reach. The result is that from the year 2008 to the year 2012, Deseret Digital makes
up roughly ¼ of the company’s total revenues. Moreover, combined weekly/daily print
circulation increased twofold and generated sufficient advertising revenues to turn this new
company into a very fast-growing American print newspaper (Gilbert, Eyring & Foster
2012). All in all, the first part of Deseret News change was a defence against near future or an
existing disruptive change, whereas the second part was an offensive strategy basing upon the
creation of a disruptive and new change (Konno, Nonaka & Ogilvy 2014b).
DESERET NEWS CASE STUDY 5
Buchanan, DA 2011, Good practice, not rocket science – understanding failures to change
after extreme events, Journal of Change Management, 11 (3), pp.273-288.
Gilbert, C., Eyring, M. & Foster, RN 2012, Two routes to resilience, Harvard Business
Review, 90 (20), pp.66-73.
Konno, N., Nonaka, I & Ogilvy, J 2014a, Scenario planning: the basics, World Futures, 70
Konno, N., Nonaka, I & Ogilvy, J 2014b, The mind of the scenario thinker, World Futures,
70 (1), pp.44-51.
Nadina, RR 2011 Methods of identification of the need for organizational change as being
opportune’, Annals of the University of Oradea, Economic Science Series, 20 (2),
Whelan-Berry, KS & Somerville, KA 2010, Linking change drivers and the organizational
change process – a review and synthesis, Journal of Change Management, 10 (2),