House Speaker-elect Rebecca Lockhart has chosen veteran newspaperman Joe Pyrah to serve as the new chief deputy of the House.
Pyrah has been the government reporter at The Daily Herald in Provo since 2004. Pyrah replaces Chris Bleak, who is now president of the Utah Charter Schools Association, in the retooled position.
"He has experience with the new media as well as the traditional, old media," Lockhart said Monday. "That's going to be very, very valuable to us. That's one of the places we haven't been as effective as I think we could be in the House."
In addition to being the speaker's top staffer, Pyrah will serve as the spokesman for the House Republican caucus and coordinate the body's media message.
Pyrah has spent a decade in journalism, at The Herald and, before that, The Standard-Examiner in Ogden. He is a graduate of Utah State University.
"This represents a sea change in my career path, but I believe the organizing, writing and Web 2.0 skill sets are transferable," Pyrah said in a statement. "If citizens understood what really happens in their name in the House of Representatives, they would be proud. I'm excited to help connect people in Utah with their own government."
The position paid $121,000 plus benefits last year, according to state records, but Pyrah will receive $85,000 plus benefits.