Salt Lake Reporters Punished for Helping ‘Natl. Enquirer’


(AP) Two reporters for The Salt Lake Tribune have been disciplined for contributing to the National Enquirer about the Elizabeth Smart story.

Kevin Cantera and Michael Vigh, the Tribune‘s lead reporters on the Smart case, had a dinner meeting with a reporter from the tabloid and outlined the investigation into the girl’s disappearance, Tribune Editor James E. Shelledy said in his regular Sunday letter to readers.

The reporters were paid an undisclosed amount for their contributions, and they worked with the Enquirer without the Tribune‘s permission.

Elizabeth, then 14, was taken at knifepoint from her bedroom on June 5. She was found with her alleged captors, Brian Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, March 12 in a Salt Lake suburb. Barzee and Mitchell are each being held on $10 million bail in the Salt Lake County jail on charges of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, and aggravated burglary.

Cantera and Vigh, who told the newspaper about their work with the Enquirer last week, offered to resign, but Shelledy refused.

“I verbally wrung their necks and formally disciplined them for ignoring stated policy, but the act did not quite constitute a firing offense,” he said. He did not disclose how the reporters were disciplined.

Calls seeking comment from Shelledy, Cantera, and Vigh were not immediately returned Sunday.

But in a statement provided by the Tribune, Vigh and Cantera said: “In hindsight, we made a bad decision by associating with the National Enquirer. We regret any embarrassment this brings to our colleagues or The Salt Lake Tribune.”

Information given by Vigh and Cantera to the tabloid either had been published in the Tribune or was known to the newspaper but not published because of authenticity issues or irrelevancy, Shelledy wrote.

No one was available to comment Sunday at the National Enquirer, an operator said. Messages left with an editor at the tabloid were not returned Sunday afternoon.

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