UPDATE: Salt Lake Tribune lays off eight.

OK, despite the fact you won't see much about this on Deseret News/KSL or even on SLTrib, it is a Big Deal. So pay attention.

The Salt Lake Tribune, which few would argue is the most significant independent news outlet in the state, is in big trouble. As indicated by the update.

The Trib reported Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating a deal between the New York-based owners of The Trib and Desert News/KSL, which, of course, is owned by the LDS church. That's the good part.

Joan O’Brien, a former Trib reporter and editor, has organized utahnewspaperproject.org to alert Utahns to the squirrelly dealmaking and to raise awareness, at least, of what the demise of an independent The Trib could mean to our very unique society.

Unless you've had your head buried in Pinterest for the last five years, you know that daily newspapers are in a downward spiral. But, like everything in our very peculiar state, the Trib's situation has unique twists to it. For one, we live in the closest thing in the country to a theocracy. Don't look at me like that: It's not bigotry. Any BYU political scientist (or KSL's "voice of reason" Doug Wright) will tell you anytime one interest group holds much of the religious, economic, political and social power, things get, well—unbalanced. It's absurd to pretend that the LDS church is not The Man in this state and much of the West. 

Above is the DNews spin on even entertainment news.

And just as the Tea Party calls out abuses, real and imagined, by the federal government, Utah needs a watchdog over state and local government and its congressional delegations, which happen to be dominated by members of the LDS religion. 

Here's the hard part: The Tribune's recent history of ownership battles is complicated to the point of incomprehensibility—and can't be explained in a blog, that's for sure. Utahns need to pay attention to the few cries for help The Trib has been able to send out (Fortunately, their current owners, as greedy hedge fund sharks, don't bother to read their own newspapers). You won't see it on KSL/DNews.

Whether what remains of The Trib after five years of misrule, enforced mediocrity and cost cutting is worth saving is a discussion for another day.

Full disclosure: I have worked for the Trib and the DNews.