Deseret News will now control Salt lake Trib presses

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 2:05 PM

Brady McCombs, The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Deseret News is taking full ownership of a printing plant that is part of the newspaper's joint operating agreement with The Salt Lake Tribune.

The changes to the six-decade-old agreement were announced Monday by MediaOne, the company that is jointly owned by the two Salt Lake City daily newspapers.

Besides the printing plant in the suburb of West Valley City, The Deseret News is also buying real estate that belongs to the partnership. Under the changes, both newspapers will operate their digital businesses separately.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Tribune and Deseret News have been part of a joint operating agreement since 1952. It combines printing, advertising and circulation operations while keeping editorial functions separate.

"This is a good investment for the Deseret News, and a signal of our commitment to the state of Utah," said Clark Gilbert, president and CEO of the Deseret News Publishing Co. and Deseret Digital Media, in an emailed statement. "It helps ensure two strong and independent voices, while allowing our partner to follow an investment pattern that fits what they have done in other markets."

The Deseret News is owned by a for-profit arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-Day Saints.

The Tribune is owned by MediaNews Group Inc., which is run by Digital First Media. Jonathan Paton, CEO of Digital First Media, was not immediately available for comment.

Terry Orme, editor and publisher of the Tribune, said he's been assured by the newspaper's ownership that the transaction won't affect his budget or his staffing levels.

"It won't affect our news gathering operation," Orme said. "That's a relief to me."

Last month, three of the Tribune's top editors stepped down and the 17 full-time staffers were let go in what represented a 20 percent reduction in staff. Orme became publisher in addition to his duties as editor.

In 2010, the Deseret News cut nearly half of its staff, eliminating 85 newsroom positions, and consolidated operations with affiliated television and radio operations.

Brent Low, president and CEO of MediaOne, did not immediately return phone calls from The Associated Press but said in a news release that the company is pleased with the Deseret News' investment, which allows the newspapers to have maximum reach for advertisers.

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