The Tooele Transcript Bulletin’s publisher emeritus is the first living person to be inducted into the Utah Press Association’s Newspaper Hall of Fame.
Joel J. Dunn, 93, was recognized with the Newspaper Hall of Fame Award at the Utah Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest award banquet on May 21 at the Megaplex Theatres in the District at South Jordan.
“This is the most prestigious recognition we give any past publisher who has been deceased for 10 years or more,” read the description of the Newspaper Hall of Fame Award in the evening’s program.
Before presenting Dunn with the award, Brian Allfery, Utah Press Association executive director, explained that the U.P.A. decided to change their tradition and allow people to receive the award while they were living, instead of presenting the award posthumously.
A former president of the Utah Press Association, Dunn was the third-generation family publisher of the Tooele Transcript Bulletin.
Joel Dunn became publisher upon the death of his father, Alex Dunn, in 1964. Alex Dunn was preceded as publisher by his father, James Dunn, who served as publisher from December 1987 to June 1919. He purchased the paper in 1898 and it remains in the hands of the Dunn family to this day.
Joel Dunn started working at the paper at a young age, but almost left the newspaper business.
He grew up with the company and saw how much work it was to run a newspaper.
“It [the Transcript] had lead type. The sheets were printed by hand and folded by hand. Nothing was automated,” he said. “We had to fold and then insert the middle sections into it … it was just totally, just really, work. I decided that I would sooner do something else.”
Joel Dunn decided to get a dental degree and began taking college classes in dentistry.
However, everything changed when he served a church mission in Scotland.
“I got a distinct [spiritual] impression that I needed to come back to the Transcript,” Joel Dunn said. “I hadn’t taken a single journalism class before that, but when I came home, three years into the dental program, I went to journalism school. … I went back to work at the Transcript. Now we have five sons and a daughter working there.”
In 1962, two years before Joel Dunn became publisher, the Transcript Bulletin became the first newspaper in Utah to move away from lead type and adopt offset, or photographic, type instead.
“[That was] two years before the Salt Lake newspapers were offset,” Joel said.
As publisher, Joel Dunn made sure the Transcript stayed on the cutting edge of technology in the printing business.
Joel Dunn also continued and firmly established a trend of the paper being a community newspaper, supporting local businesses while maintaining its role as an independent and fair source of news. He is a strong believer in freedom of the press.
Joel Dunn graduated from the University of Utah in 1952 with a degree in journalism one year after marrying the former Jacquelyn Thompson.
Together with Jacquelyn, they raised 10 children. After Jacquelyn’s death in 1993, he married the former Jill Bateman.
Joel Dunn has lived a long life of service and participated in a number of callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, including serving four missions, and as Bishop, Stake President, Mission President, Temple Sealer, and Stake Patriarch.
Officially, Joel Dunn was the publisher of the Transcript Bulletin until 1994, when he officially passed the role to his son, Scott. However, before leaving the country to serve as mission president for the Scotland Edinburgh Mission in 1983 he passed on most of his responsibilities to five of his sons; Scott, Clayton, Perry, Curtis, and Bruce Dunn. One of Joel’s daughters, Dianna Bergen, also works with her brothers at the Transcript Bulletin.
As publisher-emeritus, Joel Dunn continued to meet with the editorial staff at least weekly to discuss story ideas and help prepare the line up of stories for the next week’s papers until the COVID-19 pandemic.
His oldest son, Scott Dunn, joined Joel as a publisher emeritus in January 2022.
Joel Dunn joins his father and grandfather in the Utah Press Association Newspaper Hall of Fame.