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Posted 03 Jun 2001   For week ended June 01, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 02Jun01

By Mark Wright

London Newspaper Seeks Truth About LDS Church in Wake of Green Trial

LONDON, ENGLAND -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is often reported on in the media of today. Sometimes the stories in the popular media portray the Church and the members of the Church in terms that are good, fair, and straightforward. Many reporters make an honest effort to tell the story accurately and with a balanced perspective. Then, of course, there are those stories that are misleading, mean-spirited, or just wrong. Almost all members of the Church have silently cringed or even groaned out loud over some erroneous or derogatory coverage of the Church and/or its members. While some misunderstandings and negative representations are inevitable, everyone associated with the Church hopes that the contents of the stories are at least factual and that the doctrines and beliefs of the Church are not deliberately misrepresented.

In a recent story published in the UK Spectator, reporter and assistant editor Mary Wakefield demonstrates the capability that the media has to provide valuable information about the Church and its members, without being biased in any particular direction. One of the most interesting aspects of the Wakefield article is the way that Wakefield came to write the article itself. The "hook" for Wakefield was the bright spotlight focused on Tom Green, recently convicted of polygamy in Utah. After discussing the polygamy issue with some of her female friends, Wakefield did a little investigation, trying to find a polygamous family living in England.

While she was unsuccessful in locating London's answer to Tom Green, Wakefield ended up attending a Sunday worship service at the Hyde Park building and wrote an article about her experience. While much of what Wakefield reports in her article is fairly well known and not particularly enlightening from a doctrinal perspective, she clearly spent a great deal of time trying to "get it right." She did her research, formed her opinions, and then portrayed the situation in a clear and understandable fashion. She even made an attempt to distinguish between the polygamous beliefs of Tom Green and the practices of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ. Wakefield should be commended by the Church for her efforts to identify polygamous splinter groups as separate from the Church of Jesus Christ. This is something that many mainstream media outlets in the United States still can't get right.

After reading the article on Wakefield's visit to the Sunday services of the local London ward, one can't help but feel that Wakefield gained some unique insights into the culture of the Church and its people. She clearly found some things very interesting and praiseworthy while maintaining a healthy sense of impartiality and uncertainty about what the real motivation and driving force was behind the people that she met. While not endorsing the doctrine and people of the Church, articles such as the one written by Wakefield demonstrate that some reporters really do try to present their stories with accuracy, honesty, and truth. And, in the final analysis, that's probably the best that anyone can hope for.


What makes them Mormons?
London UK Spectator 26May01 N1
By Mary Wakefield
It's not polygamy, says Mary Wakefield. It is stern moral rectitude and a determination not to touch alcohol, tobacco, tea or coffee


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