Editor of Salt Lake Tribune discusses sale of newspaper to Huntsman family

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's largest newspaper will soon have a new owner, and it's a familiar name.

The Salt Lake Tribune is in the process of being sold to Paul Huntsman, brother of former governor Jon Huntsman Jr. The sale was announced Wednesday by the paper's current owner, Digital First Media.

The sale was being perceived as a good thing for employees inside the newsroom, which has seen some dark days. In the past seven years the number of journalists has shrunk from 165 to 85.

“Our lives and our future have not been as stable as they need to be," said Terry Orme, Editor and Publisher.

Orme said they were just a number to Digital First Media, one of more than 70 papers owned by the company.

“A chain that large really doesn’t have a clue about, or too much of an interest in, what’s going on in Utah or Salt Lake City, or the role The Salt Lake Tribune plays," Orme said.

He said the sale to Paul Huntsman breathes renewed optimism into a paper that's distributing more than 74,000 copies a day.

"They value what you do, and they see the importance of what we do," Orme said.

Paul Huntsman, CEO of Huntsman Family Investments, issued this statement:

"It is important that Salt lake Tribune continues in its indispensable role for our community and to be locally owned."

However, Senator Jim Dabakis, who was part of a group also interested in buying the paper, has his concerns.

“Remember this is as Republican a family as there is," Dabakis said. “I need to feel good that Utah's progressive newspaper is not falling into the hands of the Deseret News light."

Orme said he's not worried about any ulterior motives Huntsman may have.

"I think he's interested in acquiring us for who we are, not necessarily on who we might become from an editorial opinion point of view," Orme said.

University of Utah Journalism Professor Glen Feighery said he's been afraid the whole paper could go under.

He's glad the tradition will continue, and he said it proves to his students that print media isn't dead.

"Overall I think it's good news, this is a way to maintain what The Salt Lake Tribune says right there on the front page, 'Utah's independent voice since 1871,"' Fieghery said.

As for the price tag that comes along with this sale, that is not being disclosed at this time.

We also don’t know if there will be any changes to the joint operating agreement with the Deseret News.

3 comments

  • FinnyWiggen

    Wow! What a foolish decision by the Huntsman family. Dad was a good businessman. Clearly the sons are not as wise.

    74,000 subscriptions, among whom, the vast majority are over 50 years old. Virtually no subscribers among those under 50 years in age, and no hopes of new subscribers.

    Why would anyone pay for the news, when they can read 25,000 news stories being posted per hour, for free, online. Ad supported, independent reporters are the future, not subscription based services.

    The best the Huntsman’s can hope for is that their investment shrinks by 85% over the next 20 years, and turns into a small blog.

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  • BOB

    I’m sure that Jim Dabakis, a liberal democrat, isn’t real happy about the outcome. The liberal Tribune has been on a downhill slide for a long time. Works for me.

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