Reporters of Light | Buzz Blog

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Reporters of Light

Posted By on January 7, 2010, 5:40 PM

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Media Matters: LDS Church media properties remind employees that they work for LDS Church properties. Oh, and they need to play nice together.---

Deseret Management Corporation released a revised mission statement today that applies to all of their media properties, most notably the Deseret News, KSL TV and Doug Wright-AM-1160. It emphasizes that their mission is to "instill light and knowledge" in their work, encourage "civility" in the world and "help others find enduring happiness."

In other words: "We are a Thomas Kinkade painting." Appropriately, the mission statement was distributed with a prescription for Zoloft, endless refills included.

In seriousness, the most curious element for many people is the first line, which reads:

I honor principles espoused by our owner in the products and services I provide.

Shocking, right? Not really. The truth is, the Deseret News (at least) had a version of this "remember you work for an LDS Church company, and should behave as such" in their mission statement the entire decade I worked (and did not behave like a Mormon) at the paper. It was posted prominently in the newsroom -- behind the fax machine few people used -- but even when the "More Mormon" initiative was launched, the mission statement was never cited as a justification for it. In other words, it meant pretty much nothing.

This new poetic statement (if greeting card sentiments can be considered poetic) will have more impact, but not for the "thou shalt be Mormon" line. Its real heft is in the Fifth Commandment, "Work Together."

The upshot of this commandment: Employees of all DMC companies have to collaborate. Right now, that rarely happens, and previous attempts to make it work have failed miserably. But the DMC and its prophet, Mark "Cereal Killer" Willes, are going to make it work this time, whatever work means for so-called convergence.

By the way, this Kinkade mission statement, focus on bringing "light" into the world, and targeting certain readers (i.e. Mormon Times, Mormon Times: The College Years, or the as-of-yet published Hispanic paper) is the same model used by Willes when he drove the Los Angeles Times into the ground. From a 1997 story about Willes in Slate:

Willes is also pushing "hero" stories and civic journalism, the kind of pandering to readers that infuriates editors. He suggests that the Times introduce new sections aimed at Hispanic and female readers. Times staffers gripe that such sections would only ghettoize minority readers. Shelby Coffey, the Times' editor of nine years, quit last week amid speculation that he couldn't stomach Willes' changes.

Or, as the DMC puts it 13 years later, "help others find enduring happines."


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