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Paul Huntsman expects to complete his purchase of The Salt Lake Tribune by Wednesday, he told staffers Thursday during a visit to the Utah daily's newsroom.
The 46-year-old businessman said he intends to become the publisher when the transaction is completed and will retain current Tribune Editor Terry Orme as top manager of the paper's 83 reporters, editors and photographers.
"We're very, very excited to start this transition," said Huntsman, who was joined by his famous father, industrialist-philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr., in a meet-and-greet newsroom tour.
Orme, who will surrender his duties as publisher, said he also was excited about the new ownership and "flattered they have trust in me."
He said, come Wednesday, Tribune managers would "begin to identify places we've slipped in the past five years" and develop a plan to fortify newsroom operations.
Huntsman Sr. said he had been involved in the acquisition of more than 100 companies in nearly 50 countries, through Huntsman Corp.
"Today's a bit different," he said. The Tribune is a Utah company his family "has wanted to be a part of for many, many years."
The newspaper industry, he said, continues to face formidable obstacles. He said the family was determined to rebuild the paper.
"Paul's committed to this business," the elder Huntsman said.
Huntsman Sr. and Paul Huntsman, who heads the family's private equity investment firm, referred repeatedly to years of on-again, off-again negotiations to buy Utah's largest daily from New York-based Digital First Media and its corporate managers in Denver.
The elder Huntsman had sought for more than five years to acquire The Tribune, he said, initially working with retired newspaper executive and former Tribune owner Dean Singleton. As both men faced severe health challenges in recent years, Paul Huntsman took over the negotiations.
Digital First Media and the Huntsmans announced in mid-April that they had reached a deal. They have declined to spell out details, citing a confidentiality agreement in effect until the transaction is final.
Returning The Tribune to local ownership, the younger Huntsman said, would lead to "decisions being made in the best interests of The Tribune and the community in this building, as opposed to Denver or New York."
He also vowed to more closely coordinate management of The Tribune's news operations, its digital advertising arm Utah Digital Services and MediaOne, the West Valley City company that handles print advertising, production and circulation for The Tribune and rival Deseret News.
Huntsman Sr. reiterated his pledge to preserve The Tribune's journalistic independence, uninfluenced by outside interference and guided by "what is best for our community, without biases."
The Huntsman family has considerable business interests, religious ties and political ambitions. Huntsman Sr. worked for President Richard Nixon, a Republican, and served as an area Seventy, or regional leader, for Utah's predominant faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Paul Huntsman was a lay bishop in a Mormon ward, or congregation, for single Latter-day Saints. His older brother, Jon Huntsman Jr., served as Utah's governor and as President Barack Obama's ambassador to China; he sought the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
"Put away your thoughts that the family will make [the paper] an organ for the LDS Church or the Republican Party," Huntsman Sr. told Tribune staffers. "We're not going to tell you what to write."
He urged Tribune journalists to "always tell the truth" and base their reporting on reliable sources.
"If that's the case," he said, "print whatever it is."