Financial difficulties lead to major layoffs at The Salt Lake Tribune

SALT LAKE CITY — A sad day for local journalism - Utah's largest newspaper, The Salt Lake Tribune, laid off more than one-third of its newsroom staff Monday morning.

Michelle Quist is one of 34 employees who walked out of The Salt Lake Tribune's offices carrying a box full of belongings.

"I’m a member, or no, I was a member of the board, the editorial board," Quist said.

The former lawyer had been with the paper for just over a year.

"I loved working here. I was very pleased that they were so flexible with my schedule and willing to work with me and what I needed. I have eight kids at home and I balance all of that," Quist said.

The newspaper laid off 34 people out of a newsroom staff of 90.

"It's a real family up there. People are generally empathetic to all who lost their jobs and it's just quiet and saying goodbyes," Quist said.

Paul Huntsman, The Salt Lake Tribune's publisher, announced last week that layoffs were coming after drastic declines in paper circulation and losses in advertising revenue.

"It kind of just makes sense. We know the publisher was trying his best," Quist said.

While many of those laid off were recent hires like Quist, others had been with the paper for decades.

"A year ago the Tribune won a Pulitzer and really, really good reporting. Good reporters," Quist said.

All are victims of an unfortunate trend affecting newspapers across the nation.

"A lot of people get their news online now and they get it online from free sources," Quist said.

In a message posted on the Tribune's website Monday, Editor Jennifer Napier-Pierce said in part, “Laying off talented and dedicated colleagues has been flat-out excruciating and represents a tremendous loss not only for this newsroom, but also for our entire community."

As Quist walks out of the Tribune building for the last time, she harbors no resentment, but hopes Utahns will take notice and step up to support local journalism.

"Utahns got to know if they don’t support their local news media that it's going to be in trouble," says Quist.