Utah Sugar Beets: A Struggling Industry

By Andres-Alcantar Castro

During World War II, President LeRoy E. Cowles encouraged University of Utah students to help struggling sugar beet farmers. Ads were placed in the Utah Chronicle to increase participation. The Chronicle reported that only 24 students had participated. Utah farmers continued looking for workers in the coming years but the industry fought to keep crops plentiful despite the shortage.

Sugar beets supplied half of the nation’s sugar by then. The U.S. military relied on sugar and foodstuffs for energy. In 45 years, Americans went from consuming 45 to 109 pounds of sugar per capita, making the U.S. the world’s largest sugar consumer. The sugar beet became a viable option because it grew where sugar cane couldn’t. Sugar beets, however, yielded a maximum of 15 percent sugar and thus required research to yield more. (Weeks, p. 370)


Beets at loading station. 
Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society.

As early as June 1942, the North Cache News printed an article emphasizing the struggles that farmers faced in finding labor to thin their sugar beets. The locals suggested that farmers use children to help in the fields. While farmers were first reluctant, the crisis changed their minds. White-collar workers from Bingham City also helped the farmers of Cache Valley. The article points out that the labor shortage wasn’t only because of men turned soldiers, but also men working in the industries conducive to the war.

The Rich County Reaper reported on January 2, 1942, that 1.5 million workers would be needed by 1943 to produce sugar and other products. In addition, 12.7 million tons of sugar would be needed in 1943. This amount was twice as much as that needed in World War I.

University students might’ve thought the work was not worth doing because they were paid $1 per ton harvested. This amount translates to only $15 today, adjusted for inflation. The university, however, claimed it was patriotic to work in the beet fields and even offered transportation to and from the university to encourage students to do so. A Chronicle article published in the October 15, 1942, issue reported, “Even though it is difficult for students who are busy with defense jobs and activities …, they may, in a few spare hours after classes, do a job which to them might seem minute and unimportant, but which in reality will greatly aid in our war program.”


Layton Sugar Factory, wagon dumping beets into hopper.
Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society.

During this time, the Japanese relocation program had begun. The Topaz internment camp housed many of the displaced Japanese-Americans. On October 14, 1942, the Topaz Times printed a job announcement for topping sugar beets for $16 monthly pay. This work was attractive to Japanese men because they had little freedom. Fifty-six other Japanese men left for Cache County, while some went as far as Preston, Idaho, to work. Even Topaz only had 250 of the 400 workers needed there. Also, Mexican miners had started immigrating to Utah since the 1930s but by the 1940s about 60 families settled in Garland, Utah, to work in the sugar beet fields. Mexican immigrants were able to take advantage of the pay from the sugar beet industry and work toward building a community. (Solórzano, p. 18)

The new labor force helped the beet farmers harvest crops but they still required advancements in technology to reach their goals. Luckily, groups like the American Society of Sugar Beet Technologists were researching new ways to increase yields and were optimistic for the future of the industry. The Salt Lake Telegram reported on January 5, 1942, that a new method, tested in 326 beet fields, controlled irrigation and produced a higher sugar content within beets. Naphthalene acid amide was also a chemical being tested that could eliminate the leaf hopper, a type of fly that attacked the leaves on beet plants. The acid was reported to cause plant growth in some cases but damage in other cases.

The sugar beet industry suffered from a wide labor shortage, particularly because of the war. The university students’ reluctance to help was only part of a bigger problem. Farmers had to rely on immigrants and community members for their farms to survive. Small sugar yields helped win the war but more research needed to be done to make it successful.

Originally from the Columbia River Gorge area of Oregon, Andres Alcantar-Castro is a senior at the University of Utah. He will graduate in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication with an emphasis in journalism.


“Working in Beet Fields Is Patriotic and Fun,” Utah Chronicle, October 15, 1942, 5.

“Chairman Issues New Appeal for Student Labor,” Utah Chronicle, October 15, 1942, 1.

“Questions,” Topaz Times, October 14, 1942, 2-3.

“Farmers Accept Boys and Girls in Beet Fields” North Cache News, June 19, 1942, 4.

“Sugar Experts See Big Future for Industry” Salt Lake Telegram, January 5, 1942, 13.

“U. S. Farmers with Less Labor, Supplies, Machinery, Must Double the Production Shown in World War I,” Rich County Reaper, January 2, 1942, 3.

Solórzano, Armando. “The Making of Latino Families in Utah,” Beehive History 25 (August 31, 2009): 18.

Weeks, Michael. “Sugar State: Industry, Science, and the Nation in Colorado’s Sugar Beet Fields,” Western Historical Quarterly 48, no. 4 (October 2017): 367–391.

Carl Ravazza and His Orchestra, Rainbow Randevu, 1939-1941

By Adelina R. Whitten

Jazz music was booming in the 1930s and 1940s in the United States. Jazz in the West, specifically, “played a crucial role in producing and shaping jazz during the 1920s and 1930s, decades critical in the formation of the swing style,” writes Stowe in Jazz in the West. (p. 53) Big bands of the swing era took an inherent role in the West’s embodiment of the popular culture, crossing national boundaries. The audience of Western jazz followed and listened to most of the same bands popular with the rest of the public. (Stowe, p. 53) These bands followed touring patterns laid out by earlier popular culture forms, including the theatric vaudeville. (Stowe, p. 55)

Western jazz differed from jazz in other parts of the country. The racial attitudes of those in the West were one of these differences. According to Stowe, “The northern Midwest was relatively free of racial discrimination, while the Southwest exhibited virulent racism.” (Stowe, p. 61) African American and White swing-era bands were both surprisingly popular with White listeners. (Stowe, p. 63) The venues touring bands played “varied widely in the West, as elsewhere, and depended largely on the fame and drawing power of the group.” (Stowe, pp. 66-67) Municipal ballrooms, dance palaces, dime-a-dance halls, restaurants, and nightclubs were popular establishments, although urban ballrooms were the most desirable places to play. (Stowe, p. 67)

Carl Ravazza Advertisement-2

Carl Ravazza and his ochestra played at Jerry Jones’ Rainbow Randevu in Salt Lake City. Utah Chronicle, April 9, 1941, page 5.

Carl Ravazza, a White violinist and vocalist from California, and his orchestra played several times in Utah, a state situated in the Western United States’ jazz scene. The San Francisco Examiner reported on July 29, 1968, that Carl Ravazza was popular among college students in the 1930s. This remained true during the 1940s. The Utah Chronicle, the University of Utah newspaper, advertised Ravazza at Jerry Jones’ Rainbow Randevu on September 22, 1938; January 19, 1939; April 9, 1941; and April 18, 1941. The Rainbow Randevu was a ballroom in Salt Lake City that often held swing and jazz groups. Ravazza and his orchestra played at the Rainbow Randevu consecutively in 1938, 1939, 1940, and 1941.

Newspapers in Salt Lake City frequently informed Utahns of Ravazza visits. On September 15, 1938, the Salt Lake Telegram reported that “the romantic voice of the west” was to begin a two-week engagement at the Rainbow Randevu, where there would be dancing every night. The Salt Lake Telegram reported Jerry Jones saying that other popular traveling bands would follow suit if the engagement was successful. It must have been, since Ravazza’s group returned at least four additional times in the next three years. In January 1939, April 1940, and March 1941, the Salt Lake Telegram reported return engagements by Ravazza’s group.

Rainbow Randevu Front Utah State Historical Society

Carl Ravazza and his orchestra, among other name bands, played at Jerry Jones’ Rainbow Randevu at 41 E. 500 South. The building was destroyed by a fire in 1948. Used by permission, Utah State Historical

Ravazza was popular in Utah, but also countrywide. The Utah Chronicle reported on April 18, 1940, that his famous theme song “Vienni Su” was credited with shooting him “into nationwide recognition.” This might be why the Salt Lake Telegram reported on April 29, 1940, that Ravazza was to stay in Salt Lake City and perform an additional three days. The newspaper noted that Ravazza had played the week before “to record crowds, which demanded a return engagement of the popular maestro.”

Jazz music was booming in the 1930s and 1940s in both the East and West. In the West, swing bands traveled from state to state on tour. Carl Ravazza and his orchestra toured the Western United States regularly, especially Salt Lake City where he visited at least four times. Advertisements in the Utah Chronicle showed jazz bands visited Utah quite frequently. These engagements were part of the Salt Lake City scene, where people from all walks of life would enjoy music and dancing. The social events provided an opportunity for Utahns to come together and participate in the entertainment of the time.

Adelina Whitten graduated from the University of Utah in December 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication and a minor in sociology.


“Ravazza Group To Open Here,” Salt Lake Telegram, September 15, 1938, 9.

Advertisement for Carl Ravazza and his orchestra at Jerry Jones’ Rainbow Randevu, Utah Chronicle, September 22, 1938, 3.

Advertisement for five entertainment groups at Jerry Jones’ Rainbow Randevu, Utah Chronicle, January 19, 1939, 3.

“Carl Ravazza Band Held Over Here,” Salt Lake Telegram, January 20, 1939, 20.

“Salt Lakers to Hear Ravazza Orchestra,” Utah Chronicle, April 18, 1940, 3.

“Randevu Books Ravazza Band,” Salt Lake Telegram, April 19, 1940, 24.

“Randevu Awaits Ravazza Return,” Salt Lake Telegram, April 29, 1940, 14.

“Ravazza Set For Randevu,” Salt Lake Telegram, March 17, 1941, 9.

Advertisement for Carl Ravazza and his orchestra at the Rainbow Randevu, Utah Chronicle, April 9, 1941, 5.

“Carl Ravazza Dies In Nevada at 58,” San Francisco Examiner, July 29, 1968, 41.

Stowe, David. “Jazz in the West: Cultural Frontier and Region During the Swing Era,” Western Historical Quarterly 23, no. 1 (February 1992): 53-73.

H. V. Kaltenborn Discusses World War II at the University of Utah’s Master Minds Event

By Anthony Scoma

The October 9, 1941, issue of the The Utah Chronicle reported that H. V. Kaltenborn, the “fearless correspondent, editor, and radio newscaster,” would be speaking at the University of Utah’s first “Master Minds and Artists series” at the Salt Lake Tabernacle, after demand exceeded the capacity of the on-campus Kingsbury Hall. The event was sponsored by the university extension division, which brought Kaltenborn to deliver “his analytic accounts of war reports” based on his experiences as a broadcast journalist covering the war between Germany and Great Britain and his time spent living in Germany, where he had developed a “hate for Hitler and the Nazi regime which can only come from personal observation.”


Photo accompanying Bob Hale’s article, “Russ Good until Spring, Kaltenborn Believes,” that was published in The Salt Lake Telegram, October 15, 1941.

According to journalism historian Louis Liebovich, Hans Von Kaltenborn was an extremely popular and important radio broadcaster throughout the 1940s and was the “most listened to foreign affairs commentator of the time.” Kaltenborn’s radio broadcast was regularly listened to by anywhere from 10 to 17 percent of American homes during the years 1942 through 1947, meaning that his program “reached a larger portion of the American public across the country than any other single news opinion source with the exception of Time magazine.” His influence greatly shaped American discourse by stimulating newspaper editorials, effectively attacking high-ranking government officials, and shaping public opinion of government policy (Liebovich, p. 47).

Kaltenborn’s popularity was certainly evident in the tone of the coverage before and after the event by The Utah Chronicle and the Salt Lake Telegram. The October 15, 1941, issue of the Telegram called Kaltenborn the “No. 1 news commentator” and from the moment he landed at Salt Lake airport the paper reported on his observations of the war in Europe and specifically “the Russian fight against the invading Germans.” The Salt Lake Telegram’s subsequent October 16 issue reported that these topics were also addressed during Kaltenborn’s speech when he said that Hitler’s invasion of Russia was going so poorly that even Hitler admitted he had made an error.

Kaltenborn’s assessment of the war was also combined with a strong endorsement of the U.S. providing support to the Allied forces and called for a more involved foreign policy. According to the October 16 issue of the Salt Lake Telegram, during Kaltenborn’s 90-minute address to the audience of 5,000 people, he said that “[t]he weight of the United States will decide the turn of events in the European war” and that if China, with the support of the United States, could take the offensive with Japan “it might change the world situation.”

The Utah Chronicle’s coverage of Kaltenborn’s speech in its October 16, 1941, issue highlighted his dislike of Hitler, the Nazi regime, and its desire for conquest. The article also brought up Kaltenborn’s concerns in the “Far East” where Kaltenborn said, “Japan feels her destiny is to rule.” The article finished its coverage by describing Kaltenborn’s warning about labor unions and profit motives interfering with the defense industry and his conclusion that “Russia will never be conquered.”


Hays Gorey’s story, “Noted News Lecturer Shows Weakness in War Problem Analysis.” (The Utah Chronicle, October 24, 1941, 1)

Kaltenborn’s speech and perspective was not without criticism, however, and in The Utah Chronicle’s October 23, 1941, issue, Hays Gorey argued that Kaltenborn “continued a policy common to Master Minds and Artists series speakers of being more concerned with propagandistic entertainment than with logical presentation and interpretation of facts.” While Gorey’s opinion column admitted Kaltenborn’s speech was “a success,” Gorey charged him with creating “a war-frenzy” and making claims without substantiating them with a “firm foundation of reasoning.” Of these claims, Gorey specifically questioned Kaltenborn’s analysis of the defensive capabilities of the English Channel, his certainty that Hitler was “inherently sinister and power-mad,” the lack of similar criticism of Josef Stalin, and the address being “full of generalities […] with a few statements that bordered on the ridiculous here and there.”

Less than two months after Kaltenborn’s speech in Salt Lake City, millions of Americans across the country tuned in on December 7, 1941, to hear his analysis of the attack at Pearl Harbor, which heralded the United States’ entrance into WWII (National Broadcasting Company, Inc.). The timing of Kaltenborn’s speech, his outspoken position on the war, and the media coverage before and after the event provide a great insight into the contemporary arguments for and against entering the war and can help to better understand the political landscape of Utah concerning the war prior to Pearl Harbor.

Anthony Scoma is a senior at the University of Utah majoring in communication and political science and is set to graduate in May 2019. He is interested in radio journalism and is the podcast producer for K-UTE Radio.


“H. V. Kaltenborn Opens Master Minds Series,” The Utah Chronicle, October 9, 1941, 1.

Bob Hale, “Russ Good Until Spring, Kaltenborn Believes,” Salt Lake Telegram, October 15, 1941, 15.

“Hitler on His Way Out, Says Kaltenborn” Salt Lake Telegram, October 16, 1941, 11.

Wallace Bennett, “Famous News Analyst Sees Need for Unity,” The Utah Chronicle, October 16, 1941, 1.

Hays Gorey, “Noted News Lecturer Shows Weakness in War Problem Analysis,” The Utah Chronicle, October 23, 1941, 4.

National Broadcasting Company, Inc.“H.V. Kaltenborn’s Analysis Of The Japanese Attack On Pearl Harbor,” December 7, 1941.

Liebovich, Louis. H.V. Kaltenborn and the Origins of the Cold War: A Study of Personal Expression in Radio Journalism History, no. 14 (Summer/Autumn 1987): 46–53.


The Linguaphone Group: Pioneers of Language Learning Technology

By Diego Romo

There are currently many ways to learn another language. Software like Rosetta Stone is neither a new nor astonishing technology to most of us, and apps like Duolingo and Babbel are making language learning even more accessible to all. It could be said that it is the easiest time to learn a new language because of all of the technologies available to us. But that was not always the case.

Before the availability of language learning technologies, people who were not able to learn through immersive experiences relied on traditional learning methods such as classroom instruction and literature to guide their education. But, Thomas Edison’s invention of sound recording and Alexander Graham Bell’s revolutionary creation, the phonograph, changed everything. And during the turn of the 20th century, a smart Russian immigrant capitalized on those technologies and developed the method that modern technologies still use.


Advertisement for the Linguaphone, with coupon for GIs, featured in an April 1949 edition of Popular Mechanics.

In 1901, Jacques Roston immigrated to London and founded The Linguaphone Group. Roston, a translator and language teacher, believed in “the primacy of the spoken word.” (“Our Heritage,” 2018) He theorized that the best method to teach students a new language—if they were not able to immerse themselves into the culture in which it is spoken—was to utilize the new sound technologies to record native speakers and play that back to students alongside the Rees Pictorial Language books. (“Our Heritage,” 2018)

By 1920, sound recording technology had time to mature and was refined. The traditional wax cylinder became the phonograph record—more commonly referred to as the vinyl record. This innovation in the technology made it so more and more people around the world had access to phonographs and records, and again Roston saw an opportunity. He pursued an aggressive print ad campaign in many countries and by the end of the decade, the Linguaphone Group’s programs were taught in 92 countries. Lessons were available in French, German, Italian, Spanish, English, Afrikaans, Esperanto and many other languages. (“Our Heritage,” 2018) Ads for the Linguaphone can be found in many local Utah newspapers including The Utah Chronicle, Salt Lake Tribune, Provo Daily Herald and Ogden Standard-Examiner.

On a national level, Roston and the Linguaphone Group pursued major ad campaigns in magazines like Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. The ads featured in the various newspapers and magazines were all very similar, with slight variations in the illustrations and language. Some, like the ads featured in Popular Science and Popular Mechanics, included coupon cutouts that gave any active or retired GI the opportunity to receive a free Linguaphone set for their service. Interestingly, the ad featured in The Utah Chronicle from the same time period did not include the coupon for GIs, even though there were many active service members who called the fieldhouse on campus home.

The ads encouraged readers to try out the revolutionary language learning product that provided an easy way to learn, right in the comfort of one’s home, a very innovative concept at the time. One Salt Lake Tribune ad from 1943 said, “Save time, work and money. With a Linguaphone set at your side you can study anywhere anytime at your ease, alone or in a group.” It was available to purchase from the Deseret Book Store. Another ad from a 1949 edition of Popular Mechanics details the educational value of the product. “Educators hail Linguaphone as a notable advance in simplifying the mastery of languages. That is why so many Linguaphone Sets are used in schools, colleges, universities, as an aid to fluent speaking.”


Article from a November 1943 edition of the Salt Lake Telegramdetailing the use of the Linguaphone by the BYU language department.

According to a 1943 Salt Lake Telegram article, the language department from BYU had “acquired some new linguaphone-phonograph equipment to supplement present teaching methods,” and the product aided in the instruction of French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian and Russian at the school. An Orem-Geneva Times article from the same time period mentions that students from Lincoln High School in Orem purchased a Linguaphone set to be used in their newly created foreign languages club. Classified ads can also be found in many newspapers, like one in The Salt Lake Tribune from 1944, where the seller is offering a Linguaphone set in exchange for a “good portable typewriter.”

Roston’s methods of teaching languages with the assistance of sound technologies was groundbreaking at the time and helped many across the world, including government officials, diplomats and even dignitaries, learn new languages. (“Our Heritage,” 2018) Roston theorized that by using the sound of native language speakers, alongside images and text that illustrate the corresponding word, people were better suited to learn a language. “With the aid of these pictures you learn to associate the appearance of things with the appropriate word sounds. This is the truly natural way of learning a language, a way you first, as a child, learned your own mother tongue,” Roston said in a 1927 ad in The Linguist.

As the method proved to be very effective, it continued to grow in popularity. Author H. G. Wells prophesized at the advent of the phonograph that it would be used to teach language in the future, and was pleased when the Linguaphone Group fulfilled that prophecy. He wrote to Roston “expressing his admiration for Linguaphone’s work.” (“Our Heritage,” 2018) Even the top linguists of the day were praising Roston for his innovations in the teaching of language to the masses of the world.

Eventually, the use of Linguaphone’s teaching methods became so common that the product entered popular culture. According to Wilfried Decoo, it was included in the 1964 film My Fair Lady. A scene shows Professor Henry Higgins using the method to teach Eliza Doolittle proper English. (Decoo, p. 9) Interestingly, a 1967 ad found in the Ogden Standard Examiner alludes to the growth and popularity that the product had undergone in the previous decades stating, “Thousands of students, travelers, teachers and businessmen have already mastered other languages [in] this natural way.” And, by the mid-1940s, the peak of the company’s reach, 40,000 students were using the linguaphone to learn a new language on a monthly basis. Even the US military used the program to teach its soldiers languages during World War II.

The Linguaphone Group advertised extensively in national magazines like Popular Science and Popular Mechanics through the 1940s, and ads for the product can be found locally in The Utah Chronicle, Salt Lake Tribune, Ogden Standard-Examiner and Provo Daily Herald issues of the same time period. The company continued its tradition of technological adaptation throughout the next few decades; the phonograph record became the cassette tape, which became the CD, which finally evolved into the modern MP3. The Linguaphone Group still operates today and is still teaching lessons in 15 different languages.

Diego Romo is a senior at the University of Utah. He is studying communication with an emphasis in journalism, and a minor in political science.

Primary Sources

Advertisement for the Linguaphone, Ogden Standard-Examiner, October 22, 1967, 94.

Advertisement for the Linguaphone, Provo Daily Herald, March 26, 1951, 5.

Advertisement for the Linguaphone, Orem-Geneva Times, February 8, 1951, 4.

Advertisement for the Linguaphone, Popular Mechanics, April 1949, 78.

Advertisement for the Linguaphone, Popular Mechanics, February 1949, 40.

Advertisement for the Linguaphone, Popular Science, November 1948, 52.

Advertisement for the Linguaphone, Popular Science, October 1948, 38.

Advertisement for the Linguaphone, Popular Science, January 1948, 52.

Advertisement for the Linguaphone, The Utah Chronicle, November 09, 1944, 09.

Advertisement for the Linguaphone, Salt Lake Tribune, January 23, 1944, 28.

Advertisement for the Linguaphone, Salt Lake Telegram, November 04, 1943, 13.

Advertisement for the Linguaphone, Salt Lake Tribune, July 11, 1943, 46.

Secondary Sources

Our Heritage,” The Linguaphone Group.

Decoo, Wilfried. “On the mortality of language learning methods,” James L. Barker Lecture, Brigham Young University, November 8, 2001.

The Salt Lake Tribune’s Coverage of the Cancellation of ‘Brokeback Mountain’


Ang Lee’s 2005 film, Brokeback Mountain, portrayed  two cowboys, Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar (performed by Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger), who showcased their “forbidden” love. The film created controversy all over the world — including in Utah.

According to ads in the Deseret Morning News and Salt Lake Tribune, Brokeback Mountain was scheduled to play at 12:45 p.m., Friday, January 6, 2006, at Megaplex 17 at Jordan Commons. But the previous night, the film was pulled from its schedule and replaced by another film after the owner of Megaplex 17, Larry H. Miller, learned that the film was about two gay cowboys. The film’s cancellation brought up public debate all over Utah. From January 6, 2006, to January 31, 2006, The Salt Lake Tribune’s coverage of the cancellation showed both sides of the controversy and the power of communication as it shapes public debate.


The Brokeback Mountain vs. Larry H. Miller controversy began during a KCPW-FM interview with Miller and Jonathan Brown. The interview on the Salt Lake City public radio station was done on Thursday, January 5, 2006, the day before the film was released in theaters, and aired the next day. An article by Sean P. Means and Sheena McFarland published in The Salt Lake Tribune on January 7 discussed the interview between Miller and Brown. According to the article, Brown said during the interview, “Miller was unaware of the storyline of Brokeback Mountain … until Brown described it to him Thursday.”

The Salt Lake Tribune’s Brandon Griggs also discussed Miller and Brown’s interview in his article, published January 11. The article said Miller’s initial response to booking the film was because the film had received seven Golden Globe nominations. Miller saw this as a sign of its “potentially broad appeal.” Toward the end of the radio interview Miller stated,“It is possible that the content of this [film] … is offensive enough to a large enough segment of the population that this is one that slipped by our screening process. Maybe I’ve been a little naive and not paid proper attention to it and let it slip through the cracks. If I have, then I made a mistake.”

Nothing in the interview made it sound like Miller would take matters to the extreme and completely cancel the film before it began playing. The interview made it sound like Miller would first see how audiences reacted to the film. If there was a negative response, then he would pull the film from showing. However, two hours after the interview, Miller canceled the show from playing.

This cartoon, by the Salt Lake Tribune's Pat Bagley, appeared . Used with permission.

This cartoon, by the Salt Lake Tribune‘s Pat Bagley, appeared in the paper on January 10, 2006. Used with permission.

The Salt Lake Tribune’s website posted an update on the cancellation shortly after the decision to pull the movie from theaters appeared. The update, posted on January 6, stated, “The Megaplex 17 announced it was pulling the film late Thursday afternoon. The change-of-heart came too late to remove the title from the theater’s ads in today’s Salt Lake Tribune”

The update was the beginning of a media frenzy that included numerous editorials, columns, and letters to the editor. Of the articles published, most focused on Miller’s lack of response, how the film was doing in award season, the business aspect of the cancellation, the world’s reaction to the cancellation, and what the film was about — love. The issues at large, such as morals, civil liberties, and press bias were brought up through countless letters to the editors.

Means and McFarland were among the first journalists to report on the cancellation. In their article, published January 7 and titled, “‘Brokeback’ gets boot,” they discussed the details of the cancellation and what Focus Feature (the production company of the film) had to say about it. The article also interviewed Carol Adams about her reactions to the film’s cancellation. The local woman wanted to see the film and was saddened to learn that it had been canceled.

Articles also discussed  negative public relations, Miller’s continuous silence on the issue, and of course the world’s reaction. According to Lesley Mitchell’s article, published in The Salt Lake Tribune on January 12, “Miller’s silence has helped give the story international appeal.” Another article by Griggs, published January 15 and titled, “‘Brokeback Mountain’: Why all the fuss?,” discussed the huge reaction to the film and the cancellation. This article is the most blunt of any article published in The Salt Lake Tribune because Griggs stated the hard truth on why the film was pulled from the schedule: “Men having sex.” Griggs explained that the homosexual relationship was the reason why people were getting so upset. Griggs also addressed hypocritical morals when  he wrote, “How is a gay love story more morally offensive than other movies — such as ‘Hostel,’ a horror film that shows sadists fulfilling their depraved fantasies by paying to torture other people; or the stoner comedy ‘Grandma’s Boy,’ which features drug use in almost every scene — now playing at Miller’s theaters?” His questions and bluntness were met with countless letters on the matter by Utah’s citizens.

Similarly, Griggs’ article, “‘Brokeback’ squelch has spotlight on Utah again,” published January 11, discussed the world’s reaction and Heath Ledger’s. Ledger was quoted as saying, “It’s all just really unnecessary” and “Personally I don’t think the movie is [controversial], but I think maybe the Mormons in Utah do. I think it’s hilarious and very immature of a society.” Griggs also reported, “Articles about the snub have made international headlines. NBC’s Jay Leno and MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann joked about it on the air Monday night.” Steven Oberbeck’s article, “Miller’s move: shrewd or rash?,” published January 13, quoted Paul Mero of the Sutherland Institute, a conservative think-tank in Salt Lake City. Mero stated, “Considering the conservative nature of our population, I’m sure a lot of people think: We’ll, it’s [Millers’] business and he’s entitled to do with it what he wants.”

The cancellation was something to talk about, and Utah’s citizens made sure their voices were heard. The letters were short, blunt, and very opinionated. One Salt Lake Tribune reader, Karla G. McGuigan, said the decision was an “encroachment into American citizens’ rights to civil liberties.” However, another reader, Bret A. Stapley, responded with, “Larry H. Miller is a private business owner who decides what is best for his own business. This is not a case of ‘government censorship’ or a civil liberty violation.”

Robert Seifert also questioned Larry H. Miller’s morals in a letter titled, “Miller’s moral compass.” Seifert, like Brandon Griggs, brought  up the hypocrisy of playing Hostel and not Brokeback Mountain. Seifert stated, “To sum up, pulling ‘Brokeback Mountain’ tells young people that being gay is unacceptable, so not pulling the movie ‘Hostel’ (being shown in the same theater complex) sends the message that torturing and mutilating other human beings is all right.” Harry A. Rodes disagreed in his letter, titled, “Morally correct decision”: “I would like to call on moral-minded people in Utah to actively support Miller’s businesses, especially his movie theater, to show the state and the country that there are still some people who have not given in to societal pressure to accept that which is immoral. He should be praised, not condemned.”

Readers also began saying that The Salt Lake Tribune was biased toward the gay community. Morgan T. Beach wrote in a letter titled, “Tribune’s gay bias,” published January 17: “I wonder how  many favorable articles and commentaries you would devote toward a movie of the same caliber, romanticizing the polygamous lifestyle.” The same day another Salt Lake Tribune reader, JoAnn Nokes, sent in a letter titled, “Get on with Life.” Nokes wrote, “Decisions are made daily. So accept it and let’s get on with life.”

Though The Salt Lake Tribune did indeed publish positive reviews for the film, it was not the only newspaper in Utah to do so. According to a journal article published in August 2008 by Brenda Cooper and Edward C. Pease, Brokeback Mountain was rated positively by several Utah newspapers. The article stated, “Despite the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ (LDS) position that homosexuality is a sin and that practicing homosexuals may be excommunicated, the church-owned daily newspaper, the Deseret Morning News, gave the film three and a half stars out of four, and The Daily Herald of Provo, Utah — home of the LDS-owned Brigham Young University — also reviewed Brokeback positively.”


Utah’s reaction to Larry H. Miller’s decision to pull Brokeback Mountain from his theatre was one of great debate. The divide between Utah’s views on heterosexuality, ethics, morals, and business standards was showcased through the great response of Utah’s citizens. In 2009, Cooper and Pease published another article on the topic of Brokeback Mountain. The article, published in Western Journal of Communication, discussed how newspapers framed the controversy over the film. Cooper and Pease’s study found that of the 188 Brokeback-Miller items published during January 6, 2006-February 2006, 55 percent opposed the cancellation of the film and 45 percent  defended the cancellation. The study also found that 153 letters were published statewide. Of the 153, 48 percent were pro-Miller, and 52 percent were anti-Miller. Of those 153 letters, 34 were published in The Salt Lake Tribune. My research, along with Cooper and Pease’s research, proves that Utah was greatly divided on the issue. People discussed the film’s cancellation and topics related to Miller’s decision, including morals, business practices, civil liberties, press bias, and the amount of attention devoted to the issue.

Miranda A. Knowles is a senior at The University of Utah. She is majoring in communication and minoring in sociology.


JoAnn Nokes, “Get on with life,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 17, 2006, A8.

Morgan T. Beach, “Tribune’s gay bias,” The Salt Lake Tribune. January 17, 2006, A8.

Brandon Griggs, “Why all the fuss?,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 15, 2006, D1.

Harry A. Rodas, “Morally correct decision,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 15, 2006, AA2.

Robert Seifert, “Miller’s moral compass,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 13, 2006, A12.

Steven Oberbeck, “Miller’s move: shrewd or rash?,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 13, 2006, A1.

Brandon Griggs, “‘Brokeback’ squelch has spotlight on Utah again,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 11, 2006, A1.

Bret A. Stapley, “Simple as That,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 11, 2006.

Lesley Mitchell, “Media pros say silence on pulling gay movie gives the story legs,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 11, 2006.

Karla G. McGuigan, “Denial of Civil liberties,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 10, 2006.

Sean P. Means and Sheena McFarland, “‘Brokeback’ gets boot,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 7, 2006, A1.

“Update: Miller’s theater pulls Brokeback mountain,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 6, 2006.

Cooper, Brenda and Edward C. Pease. “Framing Brokeback Mountain: How the popular press corralled the “Gay Cowboy Movie.” Critical Studies in Media Communication 25, no. 3 (Aug. 2008): 249-273.

Cooper, Brenda and Edward C. Pease. “The Mormons Versus the ‘Armies of Satan’: Competing Frames of Morality in the Brokeback Mountain Controversy in Utah Newspapers.” Western Journal of Communication 73, no. 2 (April-June 2009): 134-156.