Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Nostrums in the Newsroom I 53 The way the paper fulfills raised expectations may determine whether or not its best recruits and old hands can be retained, and, in some cases, channeled to management positions.11 The Johnson Brothers story and the News handling of it raises obvious questions about how seriously the paper intends to pursue the depth reporting staffers are capable of. Deseret News editors can correctly point out that the Church-owned paper likely has fewer "sacred cows" (issues considered too close to the interests of advertisers or of the paper's owners) than many dailies in comparable markets. The News almost certainly handles more sensitive Utah issues more courageously than the morning Tribune, which maddeningly retains the image of "independence," and with a larger audience. But if the News wishes to be a really top-flight daily with a reputation extending to Mormons and non-Mormons inside and outside the state—a goal that seems within reach—the paper's owners must choose between journalistic ethics and an unruffled public relations image. As the News struggles to eatablish credibility for solid newspapering, memories of two of the bleakest incidents in the paper's recent editorial history remain vivid in the news room. The paper's obvious waffling on Richard Nixon's final days came after a relatively tough Watergate editorial was withdrawn after perusal by Church authorities. In "Probing the Power Structure (The Powers That Be)," by Elaine Jarvik and George Buck, Utah Holiday Magazine, May 24,1976, p. 15, appeared this report: "During the next-to-last days of Watergate, the News drank the bitter dregs of the Nixon Administration's culpability and corruption with scarcely a complaint. Friends say Smart (William B.) festered under advice of LDS Church President Harold B. Lee to give Nixon the ultimate benefit of a doubt before writing off his administration. As a result, the Deseret News was one of the last major dailies in the nation to take a strong editorial stand on Watergate." Veteran staffers won't forget the black day (March 3, 1971) that the Coalville Tabernacle's destruction was withheld from Deseret News readers. On Tuesday, March 2, 1971, the Deseret News reported a "cooling off" period for the controversy over the impending destruction of the Coalville Tabernacle, quoting stake officials that they would "not move immediately to tear down the tabernacle." Before daylight next day, bulldozers began the demolition. The day's Deseret News editions carried no story on the destruction, only a statement from the First Presidency of the LDS Church. In the statement's 100th typeset line the first hint of what had gone on appeared: "Authority was given the Church Building Committee to proceed with the (demolition) work." On March 4, the News ran a short story under a one-column headline, "Tabernacle Demolition is Explained." The move was later considered by General Authorities to be a huge public relations error and a "learning experience," according to sources. Down a long corridor from the Deseret News city room in the stone-silent office of new Church News Editor Del Van Orden, those concerns seem part of another world. "The main purpose of the Church News is to build testimonies and uplift its readers," Van Orden states without equivocation. "The section should be easy to read, motivational, instructional and inspiring. We've got our layout pretty much the way we want it now—we don't have to labor with it. A good page with lots of pictures is worth its weight in impact." Although Van Orden is new to the top job, he spent eight years understudy-