An online petition to “save the Salt Lake Tribune” is raising eyebrows because of who is spearheading the effort.
The “Save the Tribune” website shows a picture of an issue of the Tribune covered in blood next to a knife that says “Deseret News.” It features hyperbolic language like “diabolical” and “murder” to describe the pending change to the operating relationship between the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News.
According to a “who is” search, the site was registered anonymously on April 21, 2014. That same day, the following message was posted to Facebook, revealing the effort was the brainchild of Sen. Jim Dabakis and his campaign manager Matt Conway.
When asked by UtahPolicy.com about his involvement with the site, Dabakis admitted he was the owner.
Even though Dabakis may have altruistic motives for launching the site, some Utah politicians have expressed concerns about him possibly harvesting email and physical addresses from the more than 2,500 people who have signed his petition so far – wondering if this was part of an effort to build a fundraising or campaign list. After he stepped down as Utah Democratic Party chairman, Dabakis announced his intention to form a Political Action Committee. There is no disclaimer on the “Save the Tribune” site that email addresses will not be used for purposes other than the petition.
The site does not allow someone to digitally sign the petition without providing an email and home address.
Dabakis refused comment and hung up when asked if he had plans to use the information his site was gathering for purposes other than appealing to the Department of Justice.
There is another unaffiliated website, UtahNewspaperProject.org, dedicated to opposing the change to the joint operating agreement. Joan O’Brien says her group supports Dabakis’ efforts, but they’re independent.
“We’ve been talking, but we are not affiliated,” she said.