Moab

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The most widely-accepted the name Moab comes from a biblical context: Moab is referenced as a dry, mountainous terrain east of the Dead Sea and southeast of Jerusalem. (Abigail Keenan)

Editor’s note: This city profile is part of a larger project in which Daily Universe reporters traveled across Utah and Wyoming to investigate the state of local newspapers.

City: Moab

Population: 5,253

Newspapers: The Sun News and Times-Independent

Circulation: Less than 6,000 readers a week and 3,250 copies, respectively

History and economy: Early leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including Brigham Young, sent a group of men to southeastern Utah to establish a settlement for trade and land control. In this expedition, they came across Moab. The most widely-accepted theory for their choice to name the area Moab comes from a biblical context: Moab is referenced as a dry, mountainous terrain east of the Dead Sea and southeast of Jerusalem. Moab, Utah, fits this description in both its terrain and geographic relationship to Salt Lake City and the Great Salt Lake.

In its beginning, Moab was an isolated town where the inhabitants made and traded for anything they needed, including tools, hand-made soap, and garden produce. In 1883 the railroad allowed for more visitors and trade to Moab, which also led to the city’s growth.

Moab began to be a mining town with the discovery of vanadium, but the mining focus quickly shifted when uranium was discovered in Moab in 1912. Uranium was in high demand by 1950 thanks to the Cold War. This became a primary source for jobs in the town. But by 1964, the market for uranium was diminishing as the need disappeared after the war.

With mining shutting down, Moab residents looked for a way to continue to grow their economy and turned to tourism. The town has become an international tourist destination, particularly for ORV, biking, hiking and running enthusiasts. Moab is within 8 miles of Arches National Park and 32 miles of an entrance to Canyonlands National Park. It is the only place with such easy access to two of Utah’s national parks, proving attractive for tourists. Approximately 1 million visitors come to Moab each year for both the parks and the surrounding red rock. Along with small-town shops and restaurants to explore today, Moab offers an array of outdoor activities including fishing, biking, skydiving, horseback riding, river activities and its well-known hiking.

Newspapers: Moab has two town newspapers, the Sun News and Times-Independent. The Times-Independent is a long-time family owned paper that has been providing news to Moab since 1896 and has a circulation of 3,250. This paper primarily provides local news in support of the community. The Sun News began publishing in 2012 and has a circulation of 6,000 readers a week. The Sun News is more advertising-heavy and provides deals alongside news to the community and tourists alike.

An informal survey of readers by BYU reporting students about their newspapers showed the following:

Sun News

Pros

  • Advertising, deals and coupons
  • Great crosswords
  • Online
  • Free
  • Covers city government and sports most

Cons

  • Covers social services least
  • Covers education least
  • Covers personal profiles least

Times Independent

Pros

  • Covers local news
  • Online
  • Longevity
  • Solid relationships with local government
  • Journalists care about doing a good job
  • Covers sports and city government well

Cons

  • Doesn’t cover national news
  • Cost for issues
  • Covers social services the least
  • Doesn’t do as many personal profiles
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