Tatiana and Matthew Prince: ‘The paper’s not going anywhere now’
'It shouldn't be a question of resources, that the local newspaper can perform some of those basic functions.'
Members of The Park Record’s editorial team met with the newspaper’s new owners, local investors Tatiana and Matthew Prince, at The Park Record office on Wednesday for the following discussion, which has been edited for length and clarity.
Park Record: Tatiana, you grew up in Boston, and from there, college and investment banking?
Tatiana Prince: Yes. I studied economics in college, I was actually a double major in economics and music at Wellesely … it was sort of the left-brain/right-brain thing … the first time I came to Park City, I was probably 10 or 11 … one of my mom’s sisters, who was like a hippie ski bum, moved out to Midway in the ’60s before there was anything there, and she and her then-husband built their house with their own hands … I did have these couple of relatives who were the big skiers in the family, who had spent some time in Utah and Park City. Once or twice, after my brother and I learned to ski … my one aunt and uncle brought us out to visit the other aunt, who was living in Midway — and that was the first time I skied Park City.
PR: Do you remember what you thought then?
TP: I thought that the mountain was way better than Vermont. … When Matthew and I first got together, we were living in San Francisco, and I knew he was from around here and it turns out we both loved to ski … we were well-matched ski buddies .. and so from San Francisco, while all our Bay Area friends were sitting in traffic for seven hours getting in and out of Tahoe on the weekends, we would just hop on a plane and come here. In the beginning of our relationship, Park City was really important to us, we were making a lot of fond memories here.
PR: Matthew, your roots here go how far back?
MP: My great-great-great grandfather was a Mormon pioneer and lived here, John Browning Sr. His son was John Browning. They lived in Ogden. He was a firearms manufacturer, invented the machine gun, all kinds of other crazy things … My parents were really heavily involved in Park City; I was born at the University of Utah in Salt Lake and we would spend as much time here as we could … I learned to ski mostly at Parley’s Summit, which is now Woodward … my dad and a bunch of friends owned that piece of land, and there were these two rickety old lifts … it was a horrible business venture — but it was a fun place to learn to ski. The day I really fell in love with skiing, I was in Park City. I remember skiing Hidden Splendor and just coming down and being, like, Whoa — you know, skiing represents freedom, as a kid.
PR: Tell us a little about what you see as the role of local journalism and how it benefits the community.
MP: I think it’s absolutely critical and especially in a community like this. There’s so much going on and there’s so much change in Park City … it’s hard to keep up with all of it if you don’t have some form of journalism that’s pulling that together. I forever would get The Park Record and open it up and would know what was going on and be able to be a better participant in the community, a better citizen in the community … I think The Park Record is a great example of what local journalism does to pull a community together.
When we decided to make Park City our home again, one of the first things we did was say, ‘How can we be participants in the community and give back to it … and how can we support The Park Record?’ And that’s what led us to eventually acquiring the newspaper. The Park Record, at its best, is the hub of the community. It’s the place where people can go to see what exciting things are happening, and to see where there’s places the community can improve. I think it’s incredibly disheartening to see local newspapers in a bunch of other places shut down … we want to make sure that that will never happen to this community.
TP: It shouldn’t be a question of resources, that the local newspaper can perform some of those basic functions.
MP: This isn’t a business for us. … We think that it makes sense for the newspaper to be a community resource and either be a nonprofit or a public benefit corporation, something where all of the resources it takes in, it pours them back into the community through journalism and reporting.
PR: What do you think of the direction of this community?
MP: It’s interesting for me because I’ve been here off and on for 48 years, and I think it’s a magical place … Every place has problems … It has been a huge issue that the people who support this community, who make sure that the community still functions, increasingly can’t afford to live here. Housing is a major issue and it’s been an issue for a long time here. … My dad, when they owned the area that’s now Woodward, back in the ’80s, they tried to convert it to build dormitories for resort employees and staff, and Summit County zoned it for one-and-a-half homes — an 800-acre piece of property.
TP: Change the year on that story and that could have happened last week.
MP: It’s not different than what you’re seeing in any mountain community … it’s the same thing in Vail, in Aspen, in Jackson … On the other side, the lifts are faster, the lines are shorter … (and) there’s still this incredible vibrancy. I feel like in the last three years, I’ve made more friends in this community in my adult life than I did since I was in school.
PR: Why a newspaper instead of other kinds of digital media?
MP: There’s importance to tradition and continuity, that newspapers have … I work very much in the digital world [Matthew is the CEO of Cloudflare], but the digital world is so ephemeral. Print is the only thing that you can know: This is was it was at that time and it hasn’t been altered and it hasn’t been changed. … Digital is important. … I think we want to do both. … I think the local audience is probably more of a digital audience. … The speed of digital is really great. … I think something like TownLift has done a really good job of being out there all the time. I got more people forwarding the article [about The Park Record sale] from TownLift than I did from The Park Record. We need to fix that. … But the paper is great.
TP: There’s sort of a shared experience with the physical paper … everyone’s reading the same articles, as opposed to the firehose of the news feed.
MP: We actually think it would be great if The Park Record (physical copy) were everywhere and people could pick up a copy [for free] … that actually would serve the community in a better way.
PR: How do you expect this change to impact readers, whether it’s in terms of things you think they’ll notice in six months to a year in the paper, or something else?
MP: I don’t think we know. The first thing is that the paper’s not going anywhere now. In the last 10 years, there have been five different owners. In the next 50, there’s going to be one. … Stability and continuity is good. I hope that they’ll notice that the coverage expands as we invest and hire people and bring more people on board. (But) we’re not going to be in picking what stories people write.
TP: People are already asking us if the editorial slant is going to change — and we’re, like, ‘What slant? Really?’ … That’s not what we’re coming in to do.
MP: We hope Val (Spung, the publisher) is still here, we hope Robert (Meyerowitz, the editor) is still here. [The newsroom is] the ones who are going to figure out what the day-to-day of the paper looks like. … Nothing is off limits. If we do something stupid, you should write, the Princes did something stupid.
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