I'm a fighter, not a lover.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Wait, the Independent Voice of Utah?

First and foremost, I am not a
Salt Lake Tribune subscriber, mostly for monetary reasons, and do not claim to be, though I am a fairly frequent reader. That said, I think that there is some good writing and solid reporting at the Trib, mixed in of course, with a lot of not-so-good writing and lousy reporting. I have worked with a couple of writers from the Trib in various endeavors and have found them to be professional, so it is my opinion that the paper might actually intend to be “Utah’s Independent Voice” (self-proclaimed), but, well, Daddy won’t let it be.

Salt Lake City, along with all of its other quirks and oddities, is a rarity in print journalism: it’s a two paper town. Two daily newspapers, which share the same printing press, offer very different views of life in Salt Lake and beyond.

One, the Deseret News, is LDS-owned and run, and as may be expected from a news outlet run from the Mormon Church, offers a pretty conservative outlook. The other is the Salt Lake Tribune, simply known as the Trib, which used to offer a less conservative tone – at least by Utah standards.

Last week, the Trib took part in the great tradition of publicly endorsing candidates for both the presidential election and local elections, and to say the least, it was a bit shady. The endorsements of the “Independent Voice,” looked a bit more like the choices of an ultra-conservative organization, like the Des News. First off, they endorsed President Bush for four more years, not a huge surprise given that this is Utah, but disturbing in that in the very same issue that the Trib endorsed Bush, it insulted his administration and what it had and had not accomplished in the last four years. Odd.

Also, the Trib endorsed (over-)developer Ellis Ivory for the seat of County Mayor. Looking at this endorsement without considering the “unusual circumstances” of the campaign for this election, it still seems strange to me that a reputable news medium would jump to a candidate who has no political experience and has been in the running for the position for roughly the last 22 minutes. Add to that the oddities of the race… To recap: Nancy Workman is the incumbent Republican County Mayor, who is brought up on charges of misuse of public funds; she still decides that she is going to run for re-election and wins the Republican nomination again; Ivory is working on her campaign; it becomes pretty clear that Workman will not be re-elected so Ivory announces his intentions to run as an independent, write-in candidate; Workman drops out and fights to get Ivory on the ballot as the Republican candidate; the Democratic Party of Utah brings the issue to court and suddenly a letter from some doctor appears suggesting that Workman is not fit to run for County Mayor again, therefore allowing the Republican Party of Utah to re-nominate a candidate; it stands up in court and Ivory is now on the ballot. Wait, what? A doctor’s note? Is this gym class or public office? So, it just doesn’t sit quite right that the Trib likes him best. (Add to that, Ivory is so wealthy, that if elected, he plans to refuse a salary and a county vehicle -- a point that his campaign is driving home, suggesting that he is that committed to the office. For me, it just makes me wonder who would Ivory be accountable to?)

The City Weekly, perhaps the truly independent voice of Utah, suggests that these endorsements are being pressed upon the Trib from its (non-local) publisher/owner, Dean Singleton, who just a few months back, announced that the paper would be moving from historic Main Street to the Gateway project; a common occurrence with businesses that some say is taking away from the city's downtown and that up until that time, the Tribune was reporting on. Many readers found the new business deal with the Gateway to be a conflict of interest for the paper and along with Singleton’s recent endorsements (which, if the City Weekly's claims are true, would suggest that the Independent Voice is actually dependent on Daddy's approval), take away much of the credibility that the Tribune has spent so long working to build.

I swear the City Weekly’s best writing comes when it is insulting the Tribune. Its reporting on this issue is no different and I invite you to check it out here.


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