It's a project two years in the making and — along with the Love book by Canham, Burr and Robert Gehrke — is yet another testament to The Tribune's expertise in, and deep commitment to, political reporting.
While neither Jon Huntsman Jr. nor Mitt Romney holds public office at the moment, they remain the biggest political names in Utah and key players nationally. Yes, they shared debate stages during the 2012 presidential campaign, but that's hardly the only time the paths of Jon Jr. and Mitt, and those of their families, have crossed. Not by a long shot.
Those ties date back some 170 years, to the beginnings of Mormonism. Jon and Mitt are distant cousins, descendants of Mormon stalwart Parley P. Pratt, for whom Parleys Canyon is named.
The lives of their fathers — George Romney and Jon M. Huntsman Sr. — tell remarkably similar stories. Both brilliant businessmen: one rescued a car company; the other built a petrochemical empire and pumped his profits into game-changing philanthropy. Both served a president, Richard M. Nixon. One was a successful governor of Michigan, the other made a brief run at being Utah's chief executive before channeling his political ambition and energy into the career of his firstborn son.
Both had sons who were Republican governors: one of true-blue Massachusetts; the other of deep-red Utah. Both sons held other high-profile positions of public service. One led the troubled 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics to much-heralded success. The other was a highly regarded ambassador, first to Singapore, under Republican George H.W. Bush, and later to China, under Democrat Barack Obama.
Finally, both sons chased the GOP presidential nod. One made it, only to lose to Obama.
During the past half-century, the paths of the Romneys and Huntsmans have crissed and crossed. At times, members of one family supported the ambitions of someone from the other family. And there were periods when those ambitions put the two clans at clear odds with each other.
In the story of the Huntsman and Romney dynasties, Canham and Burr tell a distinctively Utah narrative, one about our culture, our politics and how faith shapes both.
Burr, The Tribune's Washington political reporter, was on the campaign trail with Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman Jr. He saw firsthand the triumphs and disappointments. Canham, who reported on politics in Washington before rejoining The Tribune's newsroom in Salt Lake City last year, covered Huntsman while he was governor, as well as the 2012 presidential race.
Canham and Burr conducted scores of interviews, both on the record and off, to fill out the background and details for the narrative. They also relied on reams of excellent journalism from other Tribune writers, and coverage from other news media outlets inside and outside of Utah.
Good reporting becomes great reporting when journalists step back and put their work in larger, broader contexts. That's what Canham and Burr have accomplished with "Mormon Rivals." It is history, but not one that focuses only on the past, for the Huntsmans and Romneys are very much in the present and will unquestionably play roles in the future of our state and country.
It's an important book, and a damn good read. We're proud of it.
Last weekend, reporters, photographers and editors from across the country gathered at Columbia University to collect the most prestigious awards in journalism, the Pulitzer Prize.
Among them was former Tribune Managing Editor Michael Anastasi, now vice president and executive editor of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, which includes the Daily Breeze in Torrance.
The Breeze won the Pulitzer for local reporting for its exhaustive investigation into corruption and mismanagement of a small, impoverished school district. The findings showed, among other revelations, that the superintendent enriched himself with compensation approaching $700,000 and used his position to arrange a 2 percent loan on his $900,000 home. The series led to an inquiry by the Los Angeles County district attorney and the superintendent's eventual ouster.
Such journalism reminds us once again of the importance of on-the-ground local reporting. This sort of malpractice against the citizens — the children — of Centinela Valley would never have come to light without the Daily Breeze.
Congratulations to a former Tribune colleague whose staff showed the power and good that comes from great journalism.
Terry Orme is The Tribune's editor and publisher. Reach him at email@example.com.