These are precedent-setting times for Utah voters and for Utah journalists. Imagine two candidates for the office of U.S. president with such strong local ties and intense local interest.
Open a national newspaper or magazine and you find something about Jon Huntsman Jr. or Mitt Romney. Turn on the TV or radio and there they are. Log on to your computer, tablet or cellphone and there they are again.
And you know them. Nearly everyone in the state knows them. Jon Jr. and Mitt are household names here.
Jon Huntsman Jr. comes from a wealthy and powerful local family and is a favorite son. Just a few months ago he was Mr. Ambassador (to China) and a few years before that we called him Governor Huntsman. He was a very popular chief executive with approval ratings high in the 70th percentile.
Mitt Romney became nothing short of a hero to Utahns and Olympic lovers when he was widely credited with having swooped in to snatch the 2002 Salt Lake games from chaos. He is a Mormon, active in his church, and that makes a difference in a very Mormon state. He is an adopted son of Utah, if not a birth son. He may not technically fit the definition of favorite son, but he is often seen as one here.
It is beyond unusual for one state to have two candidates for the office of president, let alone both from one party. And that they are both Mormon attracts attention and even more scrutiny than usual. Our red state one of the most conservative in the country will get lots of attention and so will The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This will keep us very busy. Covering politics and government, of course, is the bread and butter of a news organization. Our journalists will be looking at every aspect of this race. This is local news for us.
Our reporters and editors are also being used as sources for other news organizations. This week alone a half dozen national and international news organizations have called to talk about Huntsman Â Romney as well and most have asked about the "Mormon connection."
Even today, religion in politics can be an issue. Particularly if the candidate is a Latter-day Saint. It is a relatively new faith and not as well known or understood as other mainstream religions. So there is a natural curiosity about Mormons, and there will be lots of questions asked about the candidates and their faith. Voters around the country want to know how personal beliefs influence their elected officials especially their president.
The newsroom is alive with the energy that comes from covering a big story. Our reporters will be on the road with candidates when it makes sense to do so. And, as is the case with stories like this, our coverage will include wire service stories and our own reporting. We will do our best to bring our readers the information they need and want about this important national story with all the unique and local perspectives we encounter or uncover. We will endeavor, as we always do, to be as fair and balanced as possible in news gathering and presentation.
Another point about our coverage may bear mention something we have talked about before in this column news coverage is news coverage and editorial views and opinions are separate and different.
The editorial voice is the purview of the publisher and the editorial board. There is no connection to the newsroom. News stories may influence editorial decisions, but editorial decisions do not influence news coverage. The separation is critical to our responsibility as journalists. We strive always to be independent and free from fear or favor â¦ and that includes from our own editorial decision makers.
Nancy Conway is the editor of The Salt Lake Tribune. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.