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Salt Lake Tribune Guts Newsroom Staff By A Third

Taner Pasamehmetoglu for KUER

The Salt Lake Tribune is cutting its staff by nearly a third. This announcement comes days after the paper’s owner, Paul Huntsman, told staff to expect layoffs and a paring back of its print issues.

Tribune staff woke up this morning to an email informing them whether they’d be staying or leaving. Twenty-nine staff were told they’d be leaving, with five more taking early retirements. This trims a staff of around 90 by a third and will have a significant impact on news coverage.

One of those journalists let go today is Aubrey Weiber. Like many of his colleagues, he was notified that his job on the criminal justice team no longer existed. He sums up today's events this way: “This sucks.”

But Weiber wasn’t too surprised. Although he’s only been with the Tribune since last November he has been in the newspaper business for the past five years.

“I’ve seen some round of layoffs every six months of my career," said Weiber.

The Tribune put up a paywall earlier this year to offset a decline in print subscriptions and ad revenue. But the switch has not been enough to stem losses.

On Monday, Weiber came into the office one last time to meet with his editors and pack up his things. He said he worries about the reporters left behind.

“Walking through the newsroom today it just felt so empty," said Weiber.

His team of 9 is now a team of 3. The paper has already announced scaling back their “Utah” section to only three days a week. They simply can’t provide the same amount of coverage with fewer reporters. Weiber says reporting stories, really reporting them, that takes time.

“Good journalism isn’t done in a day or in an hour, it takes weeks and months," Weiber said.

But despite all this bad news, Weiber, and a number of his colleagues who were let go, took to Twitter to voice their support for the Tribune. Saying that even though they’ll be moving on the work being done there is as critical as ever.

The new owners of Ogden’s paper, the Standard-Examiner, are slashing their staff as well. The company announced 21 layoffs last week.

4:41 P.M.: This post has been updated to include an interview with Aubrey Weiber.

Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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