April 1, 2012

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Christopher M. Lee

Out Front in a Digital Age

Gaylen Webb

April 1, 2012

Unlike the newspaper he leads, Deseret News Publisher and Deseret Digital Media VP Christopher M. Lee is a difficult read:  He’d rather rave about his team of writers and editors than talk about himself.

But he does like to talk sports, he confesses. The BYU grad is a fan of the Utah Jazz and all Utah sports. He played tennis for Mountain View High School in Orem and still likes to compete with his wife, Kristen, but spends most of his non-work hours devoted to his five children, coaching them in basketball and soccer, or doing church service.

He also enjoys music—all kinds of music, from classical to pop to mashups, and plays a little piano. Lee traveled the globe while working for his resort-designer father, Michael. Consequently, the younger Lee enjoys traveling with his family “any chance we get.”

Lee says he is not a journalist, despite writing for The Harbus, Harvard Business School’s student newspaper, while working on his MBA. However, he was recently appointed to serve on the Local Media Association’s board of directors.

His business philosophy aligns with a Wayne Gretzky quote: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

In his prior work, Lee served as chairman and CEO at Heritage Makers, a marketer of web-to-print personalized photo products; as director of new business development for Ancestry.com; as director of product management for MyFamily.com; and as a management consultant for Monitor Company in Cambridge, Mass.

He says those experiences helped prepare him for his current responsibilities. Both Ancestry and Heritage Makers are web businesses that require “web-first” thinking, while extending their brands to offline products and services. Similarly, the combination of web-first content with secondary print output is the way consumers prefer news today, he explains.

Lee says the Deseret News has enjoyed remarkable success over the past 18 months. “We’ve grown our Sunday edition in Utah and nationally, effectively doubling our weekly print circulation. We’ve also launched apps for the iPad and iPhone, a mobile site, and have just launched a new version of our website, deseretnews.com, designed around our commitment to both local Utah news reporting and our growing national voice on issues of faith and family,” he continues. “It’s fun to work in a news organization with a growth mindset.”

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