BY REBECCA PALMER
BOUNTIFUL — Publishing experts around Utah and people who have worked closely with Clipper owner and publisher Gail Stahle agree: He is one of the most innovative businessmen around, and his lifetime of investment in newspapers has permanently changed the state’s journalism landscape.
Recently, Stahle was awarded the prestigious Master Editor and Publisher recognition from the Utah Press Association. The honor is given only once a year. Also that day, the Clipper was recognized 11 times for excellence in journalism in 2012.
“We processed probably six or seven (nominees) this year, and he by far had the most tenure in the newspaper business,” said Vernal Express Publisher Kevin Ashby, who chaired the awards committee. “He’s handled more properties than all of us probably put together. Some have been successful but some have not, but he’s learned a lot from the process and that qualified him even more for the award.”
In 1976, Stahle launched the St. George Spectrum, the only daily newspaper in the region. It has been the only successful daily paper started in Utah in at least 100 years.
“Publishing is in his blood,” said Clipper Publishing Chief Operating Officer John Buist, who has worked with Stahle for decades. “He runs a printing operation, but publishing is what he loves. Publishing is getting information to the public, and that is his goal.”
Besides the Clipper, Stahle owns the Islander, which is distributed in northern Davis County, and Iron County Today, which covers Cedar City, in addition to publications such as Davis Wellness magazine.
During his nearly eight decades of life, he has owned and managed several newspapers around Utah.
Buist remembers when, in the late 80s, a paper started by Stahle resulted in an Armageddon-scale war with Salt Lake’s daily papers. Stahle’s paper, which was also known as The Spectrum, was distributed weekly to every home in Salt Lake County and south Davis County, a total of 265,000. Fearing that advertisers would flee, the dailies started their own free publications and cut advertising rates dramatically.
Stahle has also owned papers in Murray, Sandy, West Valley, West Jordan, among others. His commitment to the newspaper industry continues to this day, and he shows no signs of slowing.
“It’s one of the most important things that’s helped society go where it is today,” he said, adding that newspapers can inform, educate, motivate and activate people like no other form of communication can. “You can’t get the same feeling off the Internet to motivate people that you can in a local paper in a place like Bountiful.”