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
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