Mormon Coverage More Fair than in 2008

In 2008, coverage of Romney's Mormonism was sometimes unfair or inaccurate, said Lane Williams, a doctoral candidate who performed extensive research on the subject. Yet, reporting on the Mormon faith of Romney and Huntsman may be changing, becoming more fair and accurate.

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Deseret News

Coverage of Romney’s Mormon religion appears more fair than in ’08

By Hal Boyd

Printed in Deseret News

Published: Thursday, June 23, 2011 12:27 a.m. MDT

For the first time two members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are officially competing for the GOP nomination for president of the United States of America, and the Mormon faith of Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman Jr. is already the subject of considerable media attention.

In 2008, coverage of Romney’s Mormonism was sometimes unfair or inaccurate, said Lane Williams, a doctoral candidate who performed extensive research on the subject. Yet, reporting on the Mormon faith of Romney and Huntsman may be changing, becoming more fair and accurate.

Having studied some 200 articles on Romney’s Mormonism during graduate work at the University of Maryland, Williams estimated that about one-fourth of the articles used the word “cult” in association with the LDS Church and a similar amount used the word “polygamy.” Additionally, “secrecy” or “secretive” was used in some form in nearly 40 percent of the articles.

For the LDS Church’s part, they hope reporters will continue to portray their beliefs accurately.

Recent articles about Mormonism in major publications have featured members of the LDS Church discussing their beliefs.

For example, in Businessweek’s feature published two weeks ago titled, “God’s MBAs: Why Mormon Missions Produce Leaders,” the magazine interviewed a few non-Mormons and a laundry list of members of the LDS faith, including Gary Cornia, dean of Brigham Young University’s management school; Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen; Provo Missionary Training Center President Gordon Brown; and Dave Checketts, chairman of SCP Wordwide, which has sports, entertainment and media divisions, among many others.

Another feature on Mormons, published earlier this month by Newsweek, also interviewed various members of the LDS faith. The magazine’s package on Mormons even included a sidebar highlighting various LDS Church members describing their positive experiences with the faith.

“I do believe there is a maturing in the media coverage of Mormonism this second time around,” said Phil Barlow, professor of Mormon Studies at Utah State University. Yet, he warned that perfectly accurate coverage might be expecting too much.

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