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Private Eye


Tribune staffers picked a poor time and place to take a bite out of John Saltas.

By John Saltas
Posted // April 20,2011 - As an ethnic fellow with a real curiosity for family origins, I’m always attracted to names that are filled with consonants or end with -as, -akis, -ich or a single vowel. April 15, I spoke at the annual fundraiser for The Daily Utah Chronicle, the student-run newspaper at the University of Utah. As I stood before the gathering, I looked to my left, and—wonder of wonders—there sat a table of persons with names fitting my name-curiosity criteria.

I’d never met any of them. As events took a rather pathetic turn just moments later, I can say I’m glad of that. I had tried begging off from speaking at the event since I don’t have anything valuable to deliver anyway. But I was told it would be a good chance for people about to enter the outside workforce to hear that there may indeed be opportunity for young professionals in journalism from a person who had bucked the system. I agreed to give it a try. Actually, I mostly tried to forget it, and only wrote a couple pages of bullet points on some paper about two hours before the event. This would not be a repeat of The King’s Speech.

I guess I must have been wearing colors offensive to the aforementioned table of persons with weird names. I hadn’t been at the dais more than a minute when I couldn’t help but notice the faces: at least two wore sourpuss expressions, another expressed quiet exasperation and yet another bore both of the above plus a folded-arm body-language countenance that spoke volumes. It was awkward enough, given that the banquet took place at La Caille’s Garden Room atrium and the peacocks were already loudly mocking me. It was equally awkward finding a common message for a group that was spread horizontally before me and ranged in age from 20 to 90. But this particular table, representing the best of The Salt Lake Tribune, looked like they could have used a Happy Meal. Talk about dour.

It wasn’t the first time a Tribune person had given me the evil eye—but Rolly and Warchol, among many others, don’t mind sharing a beer afterward. I’d never met this trio before, and only recognized them from their handsome pictures in the daily paper. Carricaburu—now there’s an exotic sounding name I could appreciate. Alas, it was not to be. Anastasi—when I saw him, I remembered using the word “irony” a couple times in my talk. Ironic, I thought, that as Holy Week approached, I was in a room with a person whose name in Greek translates to resurrection. The Tribune could use some. I’m pretty sure he was there to watch me die, though.

And finally, McEntee. I’ll never forget the first adoring words she ever spoke to me: “Put a sock in it, John.” She loudly proclaimed that at nearly the same time I pointed to the Tribune table and said it was comprised of journalistic dinosaurs. I also pointed to the table belonging to the lone soul I recognized from the Deseret News, Brad Rock, whom I admire as a writer and columnist, and said similar. City Weekly’s table got the same treatment. I missed Joe Bauman, who worked for decades at the Deseret News and was there for a Chronicle Hall of Fame honor. So he raised his hand and made sure I pointed him out, too. He later did a Stegosaurus imitation and spoke of his being a prominent player in Utah’s first underground newspapers of the 1960s, including the eponymous Pillar of Salt. Guess who I admire?

I wasn’t bothered that McEntee blurted out what she did. It just came at a rather dumb time and place. We later had a brief talk. I think we ultimately agreed that being offensive comes with the turf. I was bothered, however, that she had caused me to lose track of my speech’s bullet points. I was trying to tell the younger attendees—whom I termed Velociraptors—that the future is theirs to grab, to forget worrying about what jobs are out there in journalism, but to create them and to embrace the new forms they’re already fluent in—social networks, mobile, apps—and to be prepared to strike when the next opportunity for societal change arises. And it will come. But I ended up mumbling the last bit, so I was peeved about that.

I was also peeved for resorting to such a lame cliché and comparison as dinosaurs representing the old ways and Velociraptors representing the new. I immediately knew that the finger needed to point at myself first and foremost, and I concluded by inviting the raptors to take the first bite out of me. I hope they do so, because they’ll see it works. They just need to go for it—push back at anachronistic institutions, keep it local (have you re-upped your Tribune subscription with the foreign call center yet?) and not to wait for an absentee owner like Dean Singleton to style their world.

McEntee said exactly the same thing that was told to me and to City Weekly for over two decades. Irony, indeed—one newspaper voice trying to hush another one. We’re a fly on their elephant ass, and they’re just professional tail-swatters.

So maybe they weren’t upset at me being there despite MediaOne’s rumored childish resistance to financially support the annual banquet because I was speaking. No, it may be that they were simply fuming at not tasting the Pulitzer Prize they had set the table for during 2010’s Elizabeth Smart kidnapping trial.

Yeah, that’s it. They were denied! Oh, the humanity! When Singleton didn’t pop for Christmas a few years ago, City Weekly bought a Christmas party for Tribune staffers. I see a Happy Meal delivery in someone’s future.

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Post a comment
Posted // April 22,2011 at 13:46

Saltass, you are truly off your meds with this one. McEntee and Carricaburu are hard-working, professional journalists, and if you are "ethnic" as a Greek, they certainly are just as much as, respectively, Irish and Basque.

Your rambling, insulting speech deserved heckling, though "Put a sock in it" hardly rises to that level.

City Weekly does some good journalism. Too bad they are weighed down by your tripe.


Posted // April 26,2011 at 10:13 - So, Ralph, in your opinion, sitting there and burping up insults like children at a high school assembly during a speech from an INVITED speaker is a constructive way for "hard-working, professional journalists" from the Trib to publicly show their intellectual and journalistic superiority? Perhaps the Trib "professionals" were put out that they were invited to open their mouths at the podium and remove all doubt about their "dinosauros-ness."


Posted // April 21,2011 at 16:02

Dinosaurs for sure. Carricaburu doesn't write; somewhat of a token, is my guess. McEntee is a whiner, column after column of bleeding hearts. Nothing substantial. Rolly is still unable to write in the English language. Warchol is Warchol. A good journalist who had his blog column ripped away by the Mormon church giving warning to Dean Singleton to shut down what the church saw as an anti-Mormon blog. The church was right, and I loved it. Dinosaurs is apt for this bunch. But the newspaper's young upcoming writers are worse. Like Rolly, they don't know English and abuse the language's grammar. I still believe City Weekly should go 2-3 times a week. This valley needs a good newspaper more than one time a week.


Posted // April 22,2011 at 11:05 - Lisa Carricaburu has been affiliated with the Business section for years and years. She's not "token" anything, Tobias, that's a cheap shot. She's been in the trenches at the Trib for a long time and has risen through hard work, not gender bias or PC or EEO, in my opinion. I have called her on occasion, over the years, to clarify information or ask about submitting press releases, etc., and she has always been warm and accomodating. And Rolly's English? Seriously? I admit that I've never read his column and found English errors egregious enough to stop my enjoyment of one of the only voices in the public square who shines a regular, almost daily light on the embarassing cultural hypocrisy we live with, good-old boy bullshit, scams, fringe groups, political cliques, etc. I don't care if he types with his elbows or Bagley draws with a pencil in his mouth, they are bulletproof to me when it comes to criticism of "how" they do what they do, rather that "what" they do.


Posted // April 20,2011 at 13:29 Seriously, John, you're way too sensitive for this business. My mother used to tell me when I was young that intelligent people tend to suffer more than stupid people. I was 19 and calling home from army basic training, so I wasn't sure which one I was at the time.


Posted // April 21,2011 at 15:20 - I agree!


Posted // April 21,2011 at 09:47 - LOL


Posted // April 20,2011 at 10:34

Oops - sorry! I meant to say WAY! My fingers are flying over the keys too fast!


Posted // April 20,2011 at 10:32

"Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity".

~Frank Leahy

Apparently, by the looks on their faces, the Tribune staffers are in a great deal of pain! It's too bad that they can't give you credit to have created a newspaper that's withstood the ups and down of the print media world with the advent of social media. If any entity is a dinosaur, I'd have to say that it's the Tribune!

And by the wayh, I can't imagine you getting rattled by stupid people! That's a mystery!