Mormon Media Observer: Recent coverage of the LDS Church provides much for which to be grateful

Published: Monday, Oct. 17 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

Then there was the excellent way of how AP’s Jennifer Dobner covered The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by focusing on the name of the church. It was typical of her diligent effort over the years.

Many news organizations have lately run articles about the emergence of the church’s advertising campaign, “I’m a Mormon.”

Reuters' article was carried widely. Papers in Arizona and Colorado and elsewhere wrote about the campaign.

Indeed, in the past 30 days, according to my Lexis-Nexis search, the word "Mormon" has been in more than 1,500 news articles and wire service stories here and abroad.

Weeks ago, I asked that journalists pay more attention to anti-Mormon bigotry in the election campaigns. Now, I don’t pretend that any more than a handful read what I had to say, but it is clear that journalists have paid attention to bigotry and not let bigotry stand unremarked.

As a Latter-day Saint who has tried to study portrayals of my faith in the media for years, one of the things I wasn’t prepared to acknowledge when I first started was how hard journalists work to get it right when talking of my faith and how few of them set out to make us look bad.

But the more I read and thought carefully about it, I realized this was almost always true: Journalists are professionals who do try to get it right and do try to treat us fairly. Covering the church is a big challenge for reporters, and they do make mistakes that frustrate me.

But these past few weeks prove to me again that many writers do as George Washington once said. They give "to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance."

I, for one, am grateful.

Lane Williams teaches journalism and communication at BYU-Idaho. He is a former journalist whose scholarly interests include Mormon portrayals in the media, media and religion and religion and politics.

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