Seldom does the LDS Church return City Weekly's phone calls. But our intrepid freelancer Katharine Biele managed to charm a few answers out of church representatives for her forthcoming cover feature "This Is the Place" (which will hit newsstands March 11). The article looks at the church's interest in developing the Northwest Quadrant, a vast tract of empty wetlands west of the Salt Lake City International Airport.
Oddly coincidental is it, then, that the Deseret News publishes a story on Sunday by the "Deseret News staff" titled "Mormon leaders and Salt Lake City work together to transform land," which is mostly Bishop H. David Burton waxing poetic about the church's interest in the Northwest Quadrant and other recent land purchases.
Biele's feature, by contrast, is one that looks at the political, environmental and cultural implications of developing essentially a mega-suburb within the Salt Lake City limits. Biele interviewed a wide swath of urban planners/church leaders/ranchers/politicians to gauge the impact of the proposed development.
Once the buzz of her story began building, it's not too great of a leap of the imagination, then, to think that someone from the church may have let the "Deseret News staff" in on the fact that City Weekly is coming out with a story, and the D-News should have one, too, in advance of ours.
It makes me question if other media outlets in this town have to strategically plan when to ask the church to comment on breaking stories. Do they wait until just prior to publication/broadcast, assuming that if it is a compelling tale, the church-owned D-News/KSL media outlets might inexplicably learn about it and maybe even beat them to the punch?
I'm sure, if asked, no one would cop to it, but it's oddly coincidental, wouldn't you say?