SALT LAKE CITY — Joseph A. Cannon announced Tuesday that, after three years as editor of the Deseret News, he will step down to pursue other opportunities. He will, however, remain vital to the organization as a member of the newspaper's editorial advisory board.

"The Deseret News is building a future for long-term success, and I am honored to have been a part of that process," Cannon said. "This newspaper will have increasing relevance in the lives of our growing number of readers through media innovation, and I look forward to being part of its expanding voice through my role on the editorial advisory board."

Cannon has served as editor of the Deseret News since January 2007. During his tenure, he led a period of transition for the Deseret News through numerous initiatives, driving growth and innovation.

Under his leadership, the Deseret News became one of the fastest-growing newspapers in the country; the online news site, deseretnews.com, now receives the most traffic of any newspaper site in the state. While the readership of other newspapers around the country was declining, Cannon's dedication to connecting the voice of the paper with its audience increased readership by 35 percent.

Cannon's roots with the Deseret News are deep. Cannon's great-grandfather, George Q. Cannon, was the editor from 1867 to 1879. His grandfather, Joseph J. Cannon, served as the editor during the 1930s and launched the Church News, a weekly supplement to the Deseret News providing news and information from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Keeping the tradition of innovation alive, Cannon initiated the Mormon Times, a weekly look into the values and lives of the LDS community.

Mark Willes, president and CEO of Deseret Media Companies, the parent company of the Deseret News, said the company respects Cannon's decision to move on.

"Joe has been a remarkable editor for the Deseret News. He helped clarify the voice of the paper, resulting in a dramatic increase in readership," Willes said. "He set high journalistic standards and helped others reach them. He was instrumental in pushing the rapid growth of the paper online. He was innovative in launching Mormon Times, one of the most read sections in the paper.

"In a very short time, Joe made major contributions, the effects of which will last for years to come. We are deeply grateful for all he has done and will miss him."

Rick Hall, Deseret News managing editor, called Cannon "one of the finest men I know."

"He's extremely bright and insightful," Hall said. "He is well-read and has an astounding intellectual sharpness. In his career and intense avocational interests, he has accomplished so many great things — and walked, with amazing comfort, with a remarkable variety of people the world over.

"But, to me, his greatest attribute is his human touch. He has a deep and genuine love and respect for all people."

Hall said Cannon's contribution to the Deseret News is incalculable. "But, on a personal level, I'm simply going to really, really miss our daily conversations and interactions," he said.

Clark Gilbert, Deseret News president and CEO, said Cannon has been a true partner in creating a new content model for the publication. Further, he said, Cannon's influence has been instrumental to the paper's growth.

"We are grateful for his many contributions, and his strong voice will continue through the editorial advisory board," Gilbert said.

Cannon said he loves the Deseret News and is supportive of the direction the company is taking to ensure future growth and reach.

e-mail: sarah@desnews.com