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Inside the newsroom: What happens when the editor joins the governor's staff?

What an amazing week of transition. There was surprise, a few tears, questions about the change, and perhaps a little trepidation and uncertainty about what the future holds.

I'm speaking, of course, about a change in the editorship of the Deseret News.

Donald Trump rightly is the focus of the nation and world's attention, and he continues to dominate headlines as politicians, pundits, journalists, and even mom and pop in the corner market debate the remarkable end of a political season writ large.

Here at the Deseret News, the appointment Thursday of now former editor Paul Edwards as deputy chief of staff and adviser to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert required important decision-making and moves here at the News that began a month before Election Day to protect not only the integrity of the election, but the strong ethical center and credibility of the Deseret News that has been a hallmark of Edwards' tenure here.

"This transition presents some unique challenges to both the Deseret News and Governor Herbert," Edwards wrote in his resignation letter sent to Keith McMullin, chairman of the Deseret News Publishing Company board of directors, on Sept. 30.

The appointment would be made following the election, assuming Herbert's victory. How then for the Deseret News, and Edwards, to proceed with such a conflict of interest.

McMullin and Edwards were quick to act. The answer was to wall off our editor from the governor's race and related state election news and commentary. As managing editor of the News Division, I was asked to lead the coverage independent of any further consultation with Paul. Paul would not seek to influence any of those coverage decisions.

Perhaps more significantly, Paul removed himself from the combined Deseret News and KSL editorial board, which he led. I took his place, leading those discussions with candidates, with the simple explanation to our staff that Edwards was on a "special assignment," which was true.

With this strategy in place, we were able to provide coverage and commentary on the governor's race and other state races. If complaints of coverage or requests came to me, I did not share them with Paul. Nor did he have even a single conversation with me about the races. If complaints came to him on these matters, I still don't know about it.

Paul Edwards is my friend and colleague. I will miss him in this role, one I assumed last week, hours after the governor's announcement of Paul's appointment. I look forward to writing future columns detailing the continuing evolution of the Deseret News.

What won't change is the strong ethical foundation and leadership role it plays, not only in the community, but also in the nation as others look to understand just what makes Utah and its citizenry unique. Such played out during the election season as journalists from throughout the world came to our newsroom for context and understanding about the presidential election.

Established in 1850, The Deseret News' aggressive push into the future was accelerated by the amazing vision and leadership of Clark Gilbert, now president of BYU Idaho, and by Edwards, who brought insight to matters of religion, faith, society, government and news. He was truly a trusted voice.

The nation begins a transition that we hope will be beneficial to the country. The Deseret News continues its own transition, a work with no end in the dynamic world of media. It's a work worth doing and one our staff eagerly engages.

Doug Wilks, former managing editor of the News Division for the Deseret News and KSL, was named editor of the Deseret News Thursday.