Financial problems threaten the left-leaning Salt Lake Tribune at a time when ideological differences between the Trib and its competitor, the Mormon Church-owned Deseret News, have never been more apparent.
At 8:30 on a recent Thursday morning, Terry Orme, publisher and editor of The Salt Lake Tribune, walked toward his corner office wheeling a cooler full of beer behind him.
The beer was for the send-off of a reporter who was leaving the paper after 13 years, adding to dozens of staff members who had left in the previous year, reducing the newsroom to nearly half the size it was five years ago.
“It’s become ritualized,” Mr. Orme said, shaking his head. “You’ve got to acknowledge they were here.”
Similar scenes play out all across the country at newspapers threatened by the financial challenges buffeting the industry. But the troubles facing the 143-year-old Tribune have attracted special interest in Salt Lake, where groups like gays and other minorities are changing the cultural and ethnic makeup of the city.
Some members of these groups say The Tribune better represents their concerns than Salt Lake’s other paper, The Deseret News, which is owned by the Mormon Church. And they say that changes made last fall in the joint operating agreement between the publications — which include cutting The Tribune’s profits in half in exchange for cash and other benefits — are certain to spell The Tribune’s demise.