A small group concerned about the future of The Salt Lake Tribune is in Washington, DC hoping to catch the attention of congressional lawmakers and officials at the Justice Department.
The current joint operating agreement between Salt Lake’s two daily newspapers was renegotiated last year by leaders of the Deseret News and Digital First Media, the parent company of the Salt Lake Tribune. That deal cut the profits of the Tribune in half. Community leaders are concerned the paper that calls itself Utah’s Independent voice will go out of business. Three people leading efforts to save the Tribune made a special trip to Washington this week to raise awareness on Capitol Hill. State Senator Jim Dabakis is part of the group. He also hopes to convince officials at the Justice Department that the current JOA is illegal.
“The Salt Lake Tribune is the healthy newspaper. So what the story here is that the unhealthy newspaper, that isn’t making money, that has the lower circulation has paid off the owners of its bigger competitor so that it would be the last monopoly standing, and we want to make sure the Justice Department understands the situation and hopefully they respond,” says Dabakis.
The other trip participants include Pat Bagley from the Salt Lake Tribune and Joan O’Brien from the Utah Newspaper Project. O’Brien’s group filed a lawsuit and injunction in federal court earlier this month hoping to suspend the JOA. Among the lawmakers the group plans to meet with are Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Minnesota Senator Al Franken