Utah’s Story: 150 Years of Photography from the Salt Lake Tribune

April 12, 2021 (Season 2, Episode 18: 53:46 minutes). Click here for the BuzzSprout version of this Speak Your Piece episode. Image above is the cover of Utah’s Story. Courtesy of the Salt Lake Tribune

Podcast Content:

In celebration of the Salt Lake Tribune’s 150th anniversary (1870-2020) as continuous newspaper published in Salt Lake City the “Trib” published in 2020, Utah’s Story 150 Years of Photography from the Salt Lake Tribune, a collection of historical photographs and stories by Tribune photojournalists, taken from the 1890s to the present (photographs, actually a photomechanical reproduction of photographs, did not appeared in newsprint until the mid-1880s). See “Topics Discussed in Time” listed below.   

Salt Lake Tribune’s senior reporter and project editor Matt Canham, and then director of photography Jeremy Harmon, who is now director of photography and visuals at The Tennessean and USA TODAY’s South Region, discusses both SYP staff picks and their own favorite images, from the hundreds of remarkable images published in Utah’s Story. Canham and Harmon also discuss the Tribune’s recent transition from profit to a not-for-profit newspaper entity (see “In historic shift…”)

Podcast Episode:

The impactful and timeless images found in Utah’s Story 150 Years of Photography from the Salt Lake Tribune, cover a range of topics, events and communities, such as Utah’s own late 19th and early 20th centuries industrial revolution and urban expansion, to the 2002 Utah Winter Olympics, to the 1983 controlled flood down SLC’s State Street, to the 2020 social justice protests and the first half of the COVID-19 Pandemic.. Each photograph presented in this work was created by dedicated photojournalists intent on connecting and telling important current events to the SLC community and beyond.

Matt Canham is a senior reporter and project editor for the Salt Lake Tribune. Matt joined the agency in 2002 and has been with the Trib for 19 years. He has covered topics in politics and investigative projects with PBS Frontline. Matt was also a Washington Correspondent for 6 years, reporting on the federal government and Utah’s members of congress.

Jeremy Harmon was the director of photography at the Salt Lake Tribune for 13 years. As of spring 2021 Jeremy became director of photography and visuals for The Tennessean (Nashville) and USA TODAY’s South Region. Harmon was also a key contributor to the Salt Lake Tribune’s website “The Legacy of Joe Hill”. Jeremy has many interests which include the preservation and use of the Tribune’s immense photographic archives (both analogue and digital).

Additional Resources and Readings:

Utah’s Story 150 Years of Photography from the Salt Lake Tribune — to buy a copy click here.

Topic Discussed in Time:

  • Minute: 00:35 – 02:52  Introduction: Matt Canham and Jeremy Harmon. Introduction of Utah’s Story 150 Years of Photography from the Salt Lake Tribune. 
  • Minute: 02:52 – 6:54  Tribune became the first national non for profit digital metro-digital news organization. Discussion on the growing number of news deserts – regions with no news sources. Tribune’s mission is to have substantive news that is authentic and reliable.   
  • Minute 6:54 – 10:30 Salt Lake Tribune’s restructure, new features to the paper as a nonprofit; reporters focus on different areas, donors and subscribers are able to donate to the newspaper. More financial stability with the goal to add reporters. More creativity and flexibility. As an example;  Zack Podmore reported in San Juan County and was able to cover a visit from the Secretary of the Interior.  
  • Minute 10:30 –  13:19 About the Utah’s Story chapters. Created by a working google doc that everyone in the Tribune contributed to. 

  • Minute 13:19 – 16:20 Images are impactful and timeless. Images include many communities with groups that include the story of  the LDS church, the LGBT+ community, how the LDS Church has responded to LGBT+ issues, and how the greater communities’ response to the LDS Church’s response. Olympics, Utah Politics, not including the story of the victors. Utah’s Story includes the story of various communities and groups.
  • Minute 16:20 – 18:00 Photo Journalism is not art for art’s sake. Photographs are about events and help connect and empathize with people in those events. Each photograph has a story behind it.    
  • Minute 18:00 – 21:20  Professional boxer, “Mormon Mauler” Gene Fullmer image (p. 69), John Stockton’s contribution to the Jazz (p. 72-73). There is a noteworthy sports section.  
  • Minute 21:20 – 24:40 Breaking news images. Book was divided by topic, not by decade. Breaking news, flood in Bingham Canon 1952 (p. 93). Flood on state street 1983 (p. 95). Mark Hofmann with a smirk on his face, Utah and Mormonism’s most infamous forger who killed with pipe bombs two Salt Lakers (p. 96).
  • Minute 24:20 – 27:06 Have to see the tragedies and triumphs of the entire community and Utah as a state. Example, a funeral of a Roman Catholic monk at Huntsville Monastery (p. 60), and black soldiers and friends dancing, playing the piano and singing during World War II (p. 15).    
  • Minute 27:06 – 30:00 How the SL Tribune maintained a photo morgue. The archives exist in two different forms, physical archive and digital archive. Physical archive includes negatives going back to the late 1800’s, alphabetized by topic. The digital archive is bigger because it is easier to upload photos (nothing was thrown away). The collection has a statewide value, Archive of Salt Lake City and Utah’s life in general. The Utah State Historical Society acquired and digitized a major portion of the Tribune photo collection. See Salt Lake Tribune Negative Collection.
  • Minute 33:00 – 39:23 Ray King, a son of Chinese immigrants. King was a photographer for the Salt Lake Tribune from the 1930s to 1950s. He focused his attention on minority communities, documenting Utah’s Jim Crow Era, Segregation, Utah’s Asian-American community, SLC’s World War II Negro USO and Salt Lake City’s mid-2oth c. African American community. His negatives were donated to the Utah State Historical Society. See Ray King Collection.
  • Minute 39:23 – 41:50 Child labor law, child factory safety, industrialization in Utah just like the rest of the country (p. 23)  Agrarian life also documented (p. 24).
  • Minute 42:00 – 43:47 Bingham had mines, was buried, and mining towns. Firefighters in that photo (p. 26). 
  • Minute 43:47 – 45:15 Colorful photos of Utah county; mountain goats, hot air balloons that hovered over buttes Bluff and San Juan County. Peaks above Snow Bird (p. 35-47).
  • Minute 45:15 – 47:45 LDS Church Gordon B. Hinkley’s visit to Africa in the 90s (p. 52). First LDS president to tour and visit members in the African continent. Hinkley was photographed by Trent Nelson. 
  • Minute 47:45 –  51:50 2020 events, pandemic, earthquake, social justice uprising (p. 132-143). A national phenomenon when people went out to demonstrate and protest. Murals of George Floyd, remembering people that have been lost due to police brutality.
Throngs of protesters march up SLC’s State Street towards the Utah Capitol supporting Black Lives Matter and protesting USA police brutality,
June 2020. Trent Nelson, photographer. Courtesy of the Salt Lake Tribune

Do you have a question or comment? Write us at “ask a historian” – askahistorian@utah.gov