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Utah Newspaper Project Files Lawsuit in Federal Court

The Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune

The Utah Newspaper Project filed a lawsuit today in federal court against the Deseret News and Digital First Media, the parent company of the Salt Lake Tribune. They contend that the joint operating agreement shared by both newspapers violates federal law.

Last October, representatives from the Deseret News and Digital First Media renegotiated the joint operating agreement that allocates revenues between the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News.  The JOA – as it’s called, cut the profit shares of the Salt Lake Tribune in half. Officials with the U-S Justice Department acknowledged that they are investing whether or not the JOA violates the Newspaper Preservation Act, but they have not released any information on the status of that investigation. On Monday, officials with the Utah Newspaper Project filed a lawsuit against the Deseret News and Digital First Media. Joan O’Brien is a co-founder of Utah Newspaper Project dot org.  She says the group has also asked the court to put the current JOA on hold.

“We are asking for a preliminary injunction to stop the bleeding that this new JOA is causing. Hopefully that will be heard soon and hopefully it will be granted,” says O’Brien.

If the injunction is granted, the last JOA, negotiated in 2006, would be recognized, restoring a sixty percent profit share to the Salt Lake Tribune.  Clark Gilbert, the president and CEO of the Deseret News did not respond to requests for comment.     

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