- Associated Press - Friday, July 29, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The new owner of The Salt Lake Tribune made his first major editorial staffing move Friday, replacing longtime Editor Terry Orme with Jennifer Napier-Pearce, a former staffer who had recently left for a university political institute.

Paul Huntsman said in a statement that Napier-Pearce, who worked at the paper as a multimedia journalist, will help strengthen digital offerings that he called a “crucial lifeline” to the newspaper’s future.

She will return on Sept. 1 to take over from Orme, who started as a copy boy at the Tribune nearly 40 years ago and rose through the ranks to become editor and publisher in 2013. He dropped his publisher title when Huntsman took over the paper in May.

“I have walked through a door marked The Salt Lake Tribune most days for most of the last four decades. Today is the last one,” Orme said in a statement. He didn’t immediately return messages seeking additional comment.

He shared news of his departure with top editors in person and the news went out to staff in an email, said interim editor Tim Fitzpatrick.



“This is an emotional day at the Tribune,” he said.

Orme was a backer of the Huntsman purchase after the newspaper’s former corporate owners renegotiated a joint operating agreement between the Tribune and Mormon church-owned Deseret News.

The deal slashed the Tribune’s share of revenues and many feared it could have led to the newspaper’s demise. It was a daunting prospect for those who see the paper as an independent watchdog in a state where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wields significant power.

While the purchase by Huntsman was widely seen as a positive development, it raised some concerns about whether the influential family would meddle in the paper’s coverage.

Huntsman is a CEO and member of one of the most well-known families in the state. His father Jon Huntsman Sr. is a billionaire industrialist and brother Jon Huntsman Jr. is a former Republican governor and ambassador to China.

Paul Huntsman said he bought the Tribune to preserve its watchdog role and that it needs bold strategies and technological upgrades to guarantee its financial health.

Napier-Pearce said the leadership change comes at a pivotal time for media generally.

“I’ll do everything I can to ensure The Tribune remains Utah’s journalistic leader, giving voice to the voiceless, holding power accountable and delivering great storytelling for years to come,” she said in a statement.

She didn’t immediately return messages seeking additional comment.

Napier-Pearce was a radio reporter and news director for some two decades before joining the Tribune in 2013.

During her three-year tenure, she created an online video interview show and weekly radio news roundup program. She’ll become the newspaper’s second female editor. Her husband is newly appointed Utah Supreme Court Justice John Pearce.

She left in May, shortly before the Huntsman purchase closed, to join the communications staff of University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics.

Paul Huntsman said Orme is a professional with integrity and dignity who led The Tribune through grueling times of bleak finances and staff layoffs.

“There always will be a significant journalistic role for Terry at The Tribune should he want it,” Huntsman said.

Huntsman’s secretary said he was traveling and could not provide additional comment.

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