Deseret News Delivers Final Afternoon Edition

Deseret News Delivers Final Afternoon Edition

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Deseret News turned a page in its 152-year history Friday, delivering its final afternoon edition.

The News now joins The Salt Lake Tribune as a morning newspaper and said the transition means it can compete more squarely also against other Utah towns' morning papers.

"We look forward to giving Utahns a compelling option for news at the start of their day," News Publisher Jim Wall said Friday in a prepared statement.

The Deseret News, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, took two months to phase in morning editions while still putting out the afternoon paper. The move was complicated by the sharing of a printing plant and circulation force with The Salt Lake Tribune.

The News' morning transition resolves a bitter fight with its joint-operating partner since 1952.

The two city dailies share a printing press and advertising but have maintained separate newsrooms and editorial voices.

News officials said the Tribune's former executives delayed for four years their plan to switch to morning publication. Tribune executives countered that the News didn't want to pay its own way for the change.

To get its way, the News blocked the McCarthey family, among the Tribune's historic owners, from exercising an option to buy back Utah's largest newspaper after it went through a series of corporate takeovers.

The News used a clause the joint-operating agreement to block the bid, making way for Denver-based MediaNews Group Inc. to buy the Tribune.

MediaNews bought the Tribune for $200 million from AT&T Corp. in January 2001 and has no plans to give it up.

Phil McCarthey, head of a management group that lost control of the Tribune, is suing to enforce his family's "ironclad" option agreement. A trial has been set for November in federal court.

MediaNews says the McCarthey group won't be able to come up with the money or financing to pay the Tribune's true market value, which could run $325 million or more.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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