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News

Utah’s Codependent Newspaper

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While not disposed to reading the editorial pages of either daily newspaper (Chris Smart does that and I really don’t know why), I did read one this past Sunday. Under the headline, “One Year Later,” I read the Salt Lake Tribune editorial about that paper’s year-long quixotic endeavor to make me—and I presume all of you, too—cry the blues about how it came to be that the family that used to own the Tribune no longer does. I swear I didn’t know if I was reading the Salt Lake Tribune or a Ronald Reagan speech to the Wabash Rotary Club.

If you believe the Tribune, a year ago they felt like they were re-living the occupation of Paris on the day the MediaNews Group came in and announced it had bought the paper from AT&T. It’s been a “battle” ever since. The Tribune is the victim of “propaganda” and is waiting for “the truth to surface” on a day of “ultimate justice” but meanwhile is “maintaining faith.” And, it “will not rest” until the parting of an evil “smokescreen” reveals that there has been a “brazen attempt” to destroy previous agreements that will “snuff out the voice of the Tribune.” What a bunch of maudlin crap.

Dubiously, the editorial didn’t reveal the real crux of this ownership matter: Money. The folks who owned the Tribune sold it for much more than it was worth five years ago and now they want their precious “heirloom” back. If it was such a precious heirloom, then why did they sell it? Maybe they were looking to finance a few more country club memberships. The editorial even asked readers to believe a bald-faced lie—that they are “Utah’s only independent voice.” Oh, yeah? Well the Tribune can kiss my Greek kulo.

The Salt Lake Tribune relinquished its independence in the early 1950’s when it married the Deseret News and formed the Newspaper Agency Corporation (NAC). The NAC makes it possible for immense revenues and profits to flow to both newspapers. We called that arrangement “The Unholy Alliance” in a series of articles we published more than 10 years ago. On Sunday, the Tribune usurped that headline, calling the troika of the Deseret News, MediaNews Group and AT&T a present day unholy alliance. How independently creative!

If the Tribune were truly independent, it would publish the kinds of stories expected of an independent newspaper, not merely pass off a polygamy story or a Mountain Meadows story as the pitards of independence. Independent from what, the LDS church? Get real. The Tribune is equally as institutional as the church and there’s no getting around the fact that it is among the most inoffensive “indepenent” newspapers anywhere. The Tribune is the Mike Leavitt of newspapers—lots of popularity, but no cojones.

Hey, fools, you want to be “independent?”—take some of that TCI money and start your own newspaper. This city—this state—gave the Tribune a hall pass for nearly a century and the best it can come up with is that it’s not being treated fairly? That dog won’t hunt. The Tribune is what it is—“Utah’s Codependent Newspaper.” Now, kiss up to your DNews spouse and quit your damned crying.

—John Saltas