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Posted 26 Mar 2001   For week ended March 09, 2001
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Sent on Mormon-News: 06Mar01

By Kent Larsen

Media Find LDS Name Request Unpersuasive

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- An article in today's Salt Lake Tribune says that most media are either refusing or studying the LDS Church's request that they stop using the terms "Mormon Church" and "LDS Church." Quoting editors with the Associated Press and New York Times as well as several Utah newspapers, the Tribune's Bob Mims was only able to find acceptance of the stance from the LDS Church-owned Deseret News, which nevertheless indicated that it had not yet formally adopted the style change.

The Associated Press, whose opinion may be the most important because of its widespread acceptance, including at Provo, Utah's Daily Herald, doesn't expect any rush to change its policy. The newspaper cooperative's stylebook, edited by Norm Goldstein, is considered the style bible at most smaller newspapers in the U.S. Goldstein says that he has reviewed the situation many times, but stick with the term "Mormon" because of clarity. "They've sent us material before on this," he said. "We've looked at it, and then decided that since they are still generally known as Mormons, we would stay with Mormon church and then use the full name of the church on second reference. ... This doesn't really clarify anything."

The Tribune itself reacted only by complying with the request that the Church not be called the "Mormon Church." Editor James E. Shelledy instituted a new policy Thursday, and explained that policy to Mims Monday, "A church may determine its official name, and the news media ought formally to recognize it. However, The Tribune will continue to use 'LDS' as the abbreviated version of, or second reference to, the official name of the institution." He also explained why the Tribune would not use the preferred 'Church of Jesus Christ.' "Using 'Church of Jesus Christ' as a second reference is akin to the FBI asking everyone to refer to the agency as the 'Federal Bureau.' It is too vague, and 'LDS' is too deeply ingrained among Mormons and non-Mormons alike."

The New York Times' assistant managing editor Al Siegal said that the newspaper would study the issue, but that 'informed' usage was their guide, "We need to study it and observe what the actual practice is in informed American usage," Siegal said. "We are sympathetic to their wishes, but we need to consider other factors along with that. . . . Waiting and seeing is usually a good thing in determining style."

Among other Utah media, the Ogden Standard-Examiner's city editor, Pat Bean, expressed skepticism, "They've been known as the 'Mormon church' forever," she said. "We've ignored what they've said on this so far, but if pressed, I might be willing to not call them the 'Mormon church.' But this 'Church of Jesus Christ' deal, that's something else." The Provo Daily Herald indicated it would continue to stick with the Associated Press Stylebook, while the St George Spectrum indicated that it was waiting for the appointment of a new managing editor before addressing the issue.

While not mentioned in the article, BYU's Daily Universe seems to have adopted the policy suggested by the Church, from the usage Mormon News has seen in recent articles.

Meanwhile, reaction by the public to the request has been mixed. A letter to the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune calls the use of the term "Church of Jesus Christ" offensive to evangelical Christians, saying "When the LDS Church claims the title "The Church of Jesus Christ" it is sticking its collective finger in the eye of every other Christian church, and declaring itself to be the universal church." Some Mormon News' subscribers also reacted negatively to our attempts to use the title, one saying that the term sounded " arrogant and insulting."

Despite our experimentation with following the Church's wishes, Mormon News' own policy has not changed, and we expect to issue a statement on the style issue in the next few days.


'LDS Church' Still Term Of Choice for Newspapers
Salt Lake Tribune 6Mar01 N1
By Bob Mims: Salt Lake Tribune

Offensive Name Change
Salt Lake Tribune 6Mar01 ON1
By Christopher Erickson


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