Pignanelli & Webb: We Know How You Think – By What You Read

Politicians are fun to watch, but it’s also fun to watch those “watchdogs” watching them. Thanks to Utah’s unique culture, readers of print and electronic publications are somewhat easy to categorize (especially by employing sweeping generalizations and unfair stereotypes). We update a column published seven years ago about who reads what in Utah.


The Salt Lake Tribune attracts progressive Mormons who believe reading Robert Kirby and Paul Rolly lets them “live on the edge” without confessing to the bishop (that would be LaVarr). Non-Mormon readers still fantasize that the Trib is Utah’s “independent” paper, despite being owned by a national chain that slam-dunked (with help from the Deseret News) the previous owners who really were independent.

The Deseret News is read by Mormons (most of them close to death) who scrutinize the paper’s editorials for signs of First Presidency endorsement in LDS secret code phrases like, “Please signify it by the uplifted hand.” Non-Mormon readers hide their copies from their fellow wine-and-cheesers, but peruse it regularly to spy on what’s happening inside the “kingdom.”

The Standard-Examiner is read by Ogdenites with permanent inferiority complexes who sigh, “Coming from a rough railroad town, I’m not really sophisticated enough for the Trib or News, so I guess I’ll stick with the Standard.”

The Provo Daily Herald is read by Utah County residents so they can say they’re exercising their First Amendment rights and therefore feel justified in squashing other forms of free expression. At home they read the Daily Universe to learn about devotional speeches by the Brethren.

The Spectrum is read by Southern Utahns who aren’t sure much exists above the Iron County line. (“If it ain’t in the ‘trum, it ain’t worth reading”.)

The New York Times isn’t really read by any Utahns, but it’s carried around by a few to create the right effect during breakfast at Market Street.

The Wall Street Journal is considered a must read for two types of Utahns: “New Money” entrepreneurs looking for places to invest the fortunes they made selling a nutritional supplement using sales techniques they developed on their missions, and “Old Money” curmudgeons looking to protect their family business from being sold to a faceless national conglomerate.

City Weekly is read by spiky-haired leftists with nose rings who dislike Mormon culture and think Congressman Jim Matheson is a right-wing wacko. These readers are convinced Utah offers no place to get a drink, but they eagerly anticipate the Weekly’s annual “Best of Utah” to read about the best watering holes. Mormon readers peruse their “guilty pleasure” at various downtown lunch spots.

Catalyst is read by Utahns who have achieved a higher level of transcendental dimensions and are in tune with the various forces of the universe. They use the magazine to assist in fashion statements: wearing the proper crystals and pagan emblems.

The Ensign magazine is read by two categories of active LDS: Those who read every page each month and are more than happy to share nuggets learned in the most casual of conversations. Even more Utahns leave mint condition (aka unopened) copies on their living room coffee (oops, Postum) tables or office reading racks for all to see.

Sophisticated LDS women claiming a “global view” of their faith espouse the Mormon Times, but also spend time on thepioneerwoman.com.

QSaltLake is focused on the gay and lesbian community. This is an outstanding publication. (Actually, we rarely see it; but as Salt Lake City residents, we don’t want to offend the city’s most powerful special interest group.)

Republicans and Democrats under age 30 laugh at oldsters still reading words printed on paper. The youngsters ignore the fact that most of what they read on Reddit, Buzzfeed, Natesilver, Huffpo, Facebook, etc., originated in traditional publications.

Utah Business magazine is closely scrutinized by businessmen/women to determine the following: Am I featured this month? If not, what’s the matter with my PR person?

Salt Lake City magazine is read by Utahns who want to look at really beautiful people sporting the latest fashions. Suffice it to say that Pig/Webb will never grace those pages.

The Enterprise is read mostly by small business people to learn which national chain is entering the market to put them out of existence.

Television news viewership is shrinking, especially at KSL-TV, which mostly attracts Deseret News readers who regularly die off in large numbers. Everyone else is watching KUTV or Fair & Balanced Fox News. On radio, Doug Wright ably defends the moderate middle.

Pignanelli & Webb are getting old and boring, and we appreciate those who read us anyway.