August 2016

How We Almost Lost the Salt Lake Tribune

Ted McDonough spoke to us in July. He is on the Board of the Utah Newspaper Project (dba Citizens for Two Voices) Ted was born and bred in SLC. He started with the Tribune in 1990, when he was recruited from the City Weekly.

At our July meeting, Ted related the story of the origins and growth of the Salt Lake Tribune and how we almost didn’t have the newspaper. Brilliantly depicted, a timeline and details of the history of our beloved paper are on the remarkable website

By 2013, the deal to obliterate the Tribune was very nearly done. The Deseret News paid close to $25 million to the Tribune’s then-New York owner for new partnership terms that endangered Utah’s dominant, independent, journalistic voice.

The deal, which decreased the Tribune’s income by 50% and violated Federal anti-trust law was brought to local awareness during at least two years of hard work and lobbying by the Citizens for Two Voices. They filed a public-interest lawsuit in U.S. District Court under the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust acts in June 2014.

Two Voices argued that changes to the Tribune’s operational and financial structure resulting from revisions in the 65 year old Joint Operating Agreement with the Deseret News, heralded an intolerable consolidation of news media control in Utah. The U. S. Justice Department agreed and looked into the deal.

Slightly later in 2013, Salt Lake Tribune columnist, Paul Rolly, received an anonymous letter written in elaborately disguised block letters:

“Church and John Payton are renegotiating JOA. Tribune will be left with very little. Deal is Tribune interest for cash.”

Investigative reporters Robert Gehrke and Tom Harvey also received the same cryptic note. Because the mysterious whistleblower sent this note, the subsequent investigation gave the Tribune time to find a buyer which was not the Deseret News.

Citizens for Two Voices filed a lawsuit and won all pre-trial motions. But, the suit never made it to court. The deal with Paul Huntsman allowing him to purchase the Tribune went through at the last minute negating the need for a lawsuit.

So, we have come full circle. In 1901, a Park City mining magnate, Thomas Kearns, who wanted local influence, bought the Tribune. Now again, in 2016, a powerful man in town wants to own a newspaper and so buys the Tribune.

Ted McDonough believes that Paul Huntsman will allow The Salt Lake Tribune to have independent, hard-hitting news coverage which he tempers with “although time will tell.”

We are grateful to Ted McDonough for his fast-paced and densely packed history of our own paper of record, the Salt Lake Tribune.

—Lauren Florence, MD

Tribune in Trouble

Gun Violence

Through the Current Events Discussion Group at the Sandy Senior Center, I became acquainted with Dee Rowland representing “Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah.”

They have sent me a lot of alarming information, I would like to present them in a series.


This image made me bolt upright in my chair. I hope that seeing  it alarms you, too!

—Sally Jo Fuller


<click image to link to gun violence website>

President’s Report

Hello Fellow Freethinkers

I have been pretty busy this summer so I shouldn’t be surprised that August has snuck up on me, but it did. I don’t know about you but this record breaking heat is getting old. I always look forward to the fall season and the cooling that will be coming. It is also a little troubling though to contemplate the knowledge we have that hundred plus temperatures are part of climate change. The drought in the west continues to be a problem and is one of the long term manifestations of climate change. As the drought starts to span several years it becomes less a weather phenomenon and more a climate indicator. Being a Geomorphologist as a hobby I keep track now and then on a few indicators that are rather telling. One of the most obvious data points is that for some time we have been able to judge and quantify the amount of ice on the planet. It is shrinking and has been for the most part for some time. As the reflectivity (albedo) changes more energy is absorbed, ice diminishes. Quite a simple concept really. But even when there is photo evidence as proof of glaciers retreating over the years many still refuse to see the obvious.

Well anyway, I was talking about the nice fall weather so I could plug our BBQ but got sidetracked bitching about climate change. I know it’s a busy time for everyone, with vacations and all, but I hope you will try to find the time to come to our August BBQ on the 11th at John Young’s home. As usual board members will bring pot luck like items and the chapter will supply the rest. As I always say, come join us for good food and good conversation.

Before I go I want to mention one other thing. A couple of weeks ago several board members and I had dinner with Fred Edwords of the American Humanist Association. He contacted me and said he was on a speaking tour and as he was traveling through Utah, he offered to meet with us. Fred has been “doing humanist stuff” for over forty years. At the dinner, we got a lot of good suggestions for ways to improve our chapter. We discussed things from fund raising to the use of social media. At a recent board meeting we agreed that we should move forward on some of his suggestions. This will mean making some changes. As we begin this process we will be looking for your opinions on proposed changes and new projects. I’m excited about working to get more people involved with our group and have our chapter get more involved in the community. At our next board meeting I hope to have us decide on a couple of these suggestions from Fred and take action on them soon. I’ll keep you informed.

That’s it for now friends.

—Robert Lane
President HoU


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