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Samantha Hayes reporting A now-discredited story about the Smart family that ran in the National Enquirer is the cause of a credibility crises at the Salt Lake Tribune.
Wednesday the owner and publisher made an emergency trip to town to meet with the staff.
The two reporters who helped the tabloid make those scandalous accusations no longer work for the Tribune, but the arduous task of rebuilding morale in the newsroom and trust from the readers outside is just beginning.
It cost the National Enquirer $20,000, paid to Tribune reporters Kevin Cantera and Michael Vigh for information in this story that couldn't be verified.
That cost the reporters' their jobs, and the Tribune is paying the price for loss of credibility.
Dean Singleton/ Owner-Publisher: "I THINK EVERYONE IN THAT NEWSROOM IS OUTRAGED ABOUT IT. I'M OUTRAGED ABOUT IT."
Publisher Dean Singleton says it's not only the reporters' ethical breach that's the issue.
Dean Singleton: "I DON'T THINK IT WAS HANDLED PROPERLY."
Tribune editor Jay Shelledy fired the two reporters Tuesday, but he's now under fire for several reasons. When the issue came to light, staff and readers didn't know until two weeks later, after reading the editor's opinion column last Sunday.
Dean Singleton: "IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN COVERED IN A NEWS STORY JUST LIKE WE COVER EVERYBODY ELSE."
And then, Shelledy did not fire Cantera and Vigh immediately.
Dean Singleton: "I WAS ASKED THE QUESTION 'DO I THINK THE REPORTERS SHOULD HAVE BEEN FIRED WHEN IT FIRST CAME TO LIGHT?' AND YES, I DO THINK THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN."
Whether Shelledy himself should be fired is also being discussed.
John Keahy/ Salt Lake Tribune reporter: "BUT MR. SHELLEDY HAS BEEN THROUGH A LOT WITH THIS PAPER. AND I WOULD SUSPECT HE'LL BE THROUGH A LOT MORE WITH THIS PAPER."
Right now that would include a threat by the tabloid to sue over Shelledy's printed comments. An Enquirer reporter told Eyewitness News, "And as of today, it's very, very real...Mr. Shelledy, in my opinion, shouldn't be the editor of a high school newspaper."
Dean Singleton: (LAUGHS) "I CAN'T IMAGINE THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER FILING A LAWSUIT AGAINST A RESPECTABLE NEWSPAPER."