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Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014

One more question, Mr. Huntsman ...

By Emilee Bench, Deseret News

Published: Fri, June 6 11:30 p.m. MDT

 Sept. 12, 2013 - The Salt Lake Tribune in Salt Lake City.

Sept. 12, 2013 - The Salt Lake Tribune in Salt Lake City.

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News Archives)

SALT LAKE CITY — Jon Huntsman Sr. weighed in on the dispute between the Salt Lake Tribune and its ownership in a question and answer session with reporters following the groundbreaking of the Primary Children’s and Families’ Cancer Research Center.

Question: Are you interested in helping out a local paper at all? We heard rumors that you may be buying the Salt Lake Tribune.

Answer: "I’ll just comment briefly on that. I’ve had an interest in newspapers. We have a number of businesses around the world. I tried to buy the Deseret News in the 1980s and 1990s. I met with (LDS Church) President (Gordon B.) Hinckley twice. I don’t know why I’ve had this fascination with newspapers just because I guess you know we’ve, we’re broadly based in 75 countries and I’ve always had great respect for the fact that this valley should never be divided.

"That is to say that we should always have at least two newspapers. We should never have any political or religious organization filter our news. And the Salt Lake Tribune, or an alternative to a church-owned or political-owned or any other special interest-owned newspaper, is not in the best interest for the people of the state of Utah. That’s my own personal feelings, even though I’m a strong member of the LDS Church.

"I would work diligently to see that the valley is never divided and the state’s never divided and that the people have a voice, an equal voice from all faiths, and all background and all religions. And so in that context, I’ve expressed an interest in the Tribune.

"Right now the Department of Justice has put a clamp on anybody negotiating for it. They have several lawyers in examining the joint operating agreement between the Deseret News and the Tribune, and so they’ve nullified any negotiations for the next six weeks or so."

— Emilee Eagar

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1. mcdugall
Murray, UT,
June 6, 2014

Thank you, Mr. Huntsman. I too believe that the valley should have at least two sources of print news.

2. USA
Salt Lake City, UT,
June 7, 2014

We take both papers at our house. Each has its strengths, and each covers stories the other doesn't. The Tribune is an essential news source that often provides more depth than the Deseret News.

3. biil
Salt Lake City, UT,
June 7, 2014

Thanks, Emilee. Nice addition to an important on-going story. A bit more background: Jon Huntsman Sr. is no stranger to ownership of the Salt Lake Tribune and its precarious financial situation.

He sat on the board of MediaNews Group, one four companies that has owned the newspaper since 1997. Hunstman left the board in 2010 when MNG’s holding company, Affiliated Media, filed for bankruptcy to get out from under about $700 million in debt.

The “restructuring” allowed a “vulture” hedge fund, Alden Global Capital, to gain control of the Tribune. A series of layoffs began shortly after that.

4. I M LDS 2
Provo, UT,
June 7, 2014

I'm not confident I have understood Huntsman's statements here.

"...this valley should never be divided..."

So... that means two news organizations would divide the community more than one would?

"We should never have any political or religious organization filter our news."

Yes, like the Deseret News does?

"And the Salt Lake Tribune, or an alternative to a church-owned or political-owned or any other special interest-owned newspaper, is not in the best interest for the people of the state of Utah."

What?

"I would work diligently to see that the valley is never divided and the state’s never divided and that the people have a voice, an equal voice from all faiths, and all background and all religions."

The way the Deseret News does?

I'm not following this argument. I am wary of Huntsman's connections to the LDS Church influencing his ownership of the Tribune, resulting in a "unifying" of the community through an integration of the Tribune and the DN.

5. Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah,
June 7, 2014

I wonder how much of this article was never published. It seems incomplete. I'm left wanting to read more, much more.

Does Mr. Huntsman want a "unified" voice, or does he want antagonistic newspapers who fight each other on every story? Does he want divergent points of view, or does he want a "unified" viewpoint?

The article is unclear. I'm left thinking that Mr. Huntsman wants to help, but the article leaves me wondering what that help would be and whose "voice" would be heard.