Assistant wire editor Ron Cook is nothing like the gruff and grumble stereotype of a newspaperman. He somewhat facetiously describes himself as "quiet and unassuming, yet efficient." He also has a soft spot for reptiles.

Ron often takes his son for expeditions into the desert. "We drive the Volvo across the sand and pretend it's a jeep. This week," he explained, "my son brought home two lizards, but the frog ate them."Ron's family is not your traditional dog-and-cat family. "We have a large green frog that looks dead. My son feeds it mice and lizards." Ron's son, Conan, 12, whose name was inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle, not the infamous barbarian, also has several snakes and horned toads and has had numerous tarantulas. "When my wife and I wanted to go out of town, we had to find someone to watch the tarantulas so the sitter would stay with the kids."

Once Ron wrote a story about Conan's love for animals, an attraction that began when Conan was a baby. "Conan must have said `bug' before he said `daddy.' We would often find that he had tucked bugs into his diapers for later inspection."

Valorie, Ron's wife, breeds Shar-Peis. The puppies sell for up to $1,500. "We have one right now that is `pet quality.' It is half price because it has a pink spot on its tongue." That makes it a bargain at $750.

Ron likes to spend time with his son and daughter, Ronnie, who is 11. "I learn from them all the time," he said. "We're growing together, but I'm not sure who's raising whom."

Ron took a roundabout route coming to the Deseret News staff. He enlisted in the Navy and spent time in Honolulu as well as Vietnam. While attending the University of Utah, he started working at the Deseret News as a copy courier, but it was a mere three months before he became an obituary writer. Soon after he moved to the copy desk and later the wire desk.

The job as assistant wire editor keeps Ron right on top of national and international news. He sometimes functions as the news editor, deciding which stories run on A1 and the jump page, A2. Most of the time he takes care of the inside pages in the A section.

Not only does he choose the stories from the wire services and sends them to their proper destinations, but he also designs pages and selects the wire photos to go with those stories. Then he follows through on the "pagination" (computer page makeup) of his pages, making sure that everything fits properly.

"The best part about this job is being involved in all aspects of creating a newspaper. When the paper rolls off the presses, it's like witnessing a mini-miracle. I enjoy writing, too. Especially since I only write what I want to write."

Despite his tremendous responsibilities, Ron is admired by his colleagues for the way he remains calm and cool through all the deadlines and confusion of putting together the paper every day.

This is one newspaperman who defies all stereotypes. Just ask his big green frog.