A deal reached last fall between Salt Lake City’s two main newspapers is unraveling into an angry controversy as the Justice Department looks into allegations that the Salt Lake Tribune, in return for a lump-sum cash payment, is quietly ceding the market to the Mormon Church-owned Deseret News.

The deal, an amendment struck last fall to a longstanding Joint Operating Agreement, would give the News 70 percent of the print revenues generated by the two papers, in return for the payment, the amount of which is undisclosed. The onetime payment, critics claim, would benefit the New York parent, Digital First Media, owned by the hedge fund Alden Global Capital, while choking off revenue needed to sustain the Tribune’s newsroom.



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