The Following Letter Was Sent Today in Response to a Story on CNN.com, To Which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Takes Strong Exception

Mar 09, 2001, 00:00 ET from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

    SALT LAKE CITY, March 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is being issued by
 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:
 
      Jamie Allen
      CNN.com Senior Writer
      1 CNN Center NW
      Atlanta, Georgia 30303-2762
 
     The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints takes great exception to
 the report, "Separation of church and career in Salt Lake City," posted on
 CNN.com, 8 March 2001.  The way in which the story was conceived and
 subsequently executed violated the most basic tenet of journalism ethics
 -- objectivity.
     This story first came to our attention when you placed a query on
 PR Newswire's ProfNet to find someone "moving from Utah because of the
 Latter-day Saints."  You specifically asked for a "career-minded person who
 lived or worked in Utah, but moved because he or she felt the Latter-day
 Saints church held too much power ...."  Any journalist worthy of the name
 would have asked for people's experience in doing business in Utah, and then
 allowed the research to drive the story.  Instead, you had made up your mind
 what story you wanted to write.
     I wonder how comfortable you would feel if you replaced the phrase
 Latter-day Saints with other religious groups.  For example, "moving from New
 York because of the Jews" or "moving from Atlanta because of the Baptists."
 When did it become politically correct to disparage members of The Church of
 Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?  This is not an issue the Church takes
 lightly.
     So, where was your attempt at balance?  Your sources consisted of two
 women who left Utah to pursue careers elsewhere, a second-hand interview with
 the CEO of Iomega, the spokesman for Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson and a
 letter to the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune.  The Church does not object to
 criticism from these sources.  However, it does expect journalists to balance
 their stories.  There was absolutely no attempt in your article to include
 comments from business people who are not members of the Church, who have had
 positive experiences in Utah or from companies who have chosen to locate in
 Salt Lake City.
     Your one gesture toward balancing the article was to contact our
 spokesperson Michael Purdy late in the day on Thursday, 8 March.  During his
 interview he gave you numerous sources who could have provided a more accurate
 view of business in Utah.  Had you taken the time to contact the Utah
 Department of Community and Economic Development you would have found Money
 Magazine ranked Salt Lake City as the west's most livable city, that the
 UnitedHealth Group ranked Utah as the #3 state for healthy living, that
 Entrepreneur's Business Start-ups Magazine ranked Salt Lake City #3 for
 high-tech start up spots, that Inc. Magazine ranked Salt Lake City as the
 second best metro area in the country for starting and growing a business,
 that the U.S. Department of Commerce named Utah as the top state for computer
 ownership.  The list goes on and on.  Instead of facts, your story was based
 on anecdote and innuendo, and narrow-minded interpretation -- evidently all
 gathered over the telephone or from on-line sources.
     Your editorial comment: ".... it's quite possible to live there (Salt Lake
 City) and excel as a careerist, even if you don't follow the principles of the
 LDS Church" is simply unconscionable.  It is not a journalist's prerogative to
 pass judgement on a religious faith, especially one whose members founded Salt
 Lake City.  Latter-day Saints, as religious refugees, came to the Salt Lake
 Valley to escape the narrowminded judgement and prejudice you so openly
 displayed in your reporting of this story.
     Not only have you insulted the 11 million members of The Church of Jesus
 Christ of Latter-day Saints, but you have done harm to the economic
 development of Salt Lake City with your misleading report.  Because your
 article has broad circulation, we feel it is incumbent for us to make this
 letter public on PR Newswire with copies sent to the Anti-defamation League,
 the National Conference for Community and Justice, the Columbia Journalism
 Review, the Utah Division of Business & Economic Development and the Utah
 State Governor's Office.
 
 
      Sincerely,
 
      Bruce L. Olsen
      Managing Director
      Public Affairs Department
 
 
 
      cc: Anti-defamation League
          The National Conference for Community and Justice
          The Columbia Journalism Review
          The Utah Division of Business & Economic Development
          The Utah State Governor's Office
          CNN.com Online Managing Editor Chuck Westbrook
          CNN.com Online Executive Editor Edwin Vidal
 
 

SOURCE The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
    SALT LAKE CITY, March 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is being issued by
 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:
 
      Jamie Allen
      CNN.com Senior Writer
      1 CNN Center NW
      Atlanta, Georgia 30303-2762
 
     The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints takes great exception to
 the report, "Separation of church and career in Salt Lake City," posted on
 CNN.com, 8 March 2001.  The way in which the story was conceived and
 subsequently executed violated the most basic tenet of journalism ethics
 -- objectivity.
     This story first came to our attention when you placed a query on
 PR Newswire's ProfNet to find someone "moving from Utah because of the
 Latter-day Saints."  You specifically asked for a "career-minded person who
 lived or worked in Utah, but moved because he or she felt the Latter-day
 Saints church held too much power ...."  Any journalist worthy of the name
 would have asked for people's experience in doing business in Utah, and then
 allowed the research to drive the story.  Instead, you had made up your mind
 what story you wanted to write.
     I wonder how comfortable you would feel if you replaced the phrase
 Latter-day Saints with other religious groups.  For example, "moving from New
 York because of the Jews" or "moving from Atlanta because of the Baptists."
 When did it become politically correct to disparage members of The Church of
 Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?  This is not an issue the Church takes
 lightly.
     So, where was your attempt at balance?  Your sources consisted of two
 women who left Utah to pursue careers elsewhere, a second-hand interview with
 the CEO of Iomega, the spokesman for Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson and a
 letter to the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune.  The Church does not object to
 criticism from these sources.  However, it does expect journalists to balance
 their stories.  There was absolutely no attempt in your article to include
 comments from business people who are not members of the Church, who have had
 positive experiences in Utah or from companies who have chosen to locate in
 Salt Lake City.
     Your one gesture toward balancing the article was to contact our
 spokesperson Michael Purdy late in the day on Thursday, 8 March.  During his
 interview he gave you numerous sources who could have provided a more accurate
 view of business in Utah.  Had you taken the time to contact the Utah
 Department of Community and Economic Development you would have found Money
 Magazine ranked Salt Lake City as the west's most livable city, that the
 UnitedHealth Group ranked Utah as the #3 state for healthy living, that
 Entrepreneur's Business Start-ups Magazine ranked Salt Lake City #3 for
 high-tech start up spots, that Inc. Magazine ranked Salt Lake City as the
 second best metro area in the country for starting and growing a business,
 that the U.S. Department of Commerce named Utah as the top state for computer
 ownership.  The list goes on and on.  Instead of facts, your story was based
 on anecdote and innuendo, and narrow-minded interpretation -- evidently all
 gathered over the telephone or from on-line sources.
     Your editorial comment: ".... it's quite possible to live there (Salt Lake
 City) and excel as a careerist, even if you don't follow the principles of the
 LDS Church" is simply unconscionable.  It is not a journalist's prerogative to
 pass judgement on a religious faith, especially one whose members founded Salt
 Lake City.  Latter-day Saints, as religious refugees, came to the Salt Lake
 Valley to escape the narrowminded judgement and prejudice you so openly
 displayed in your reporting of this story.
     Not only have you insulted the 11 million members of The Church of Jesus
 Christ of Latter-day Saints, but you have done harm to the economic
 development of Salt Lake City with your misleading report.  Because your
 article has broad circulation, we feel it is incumbent for us to make this
 letter public on PR Newswire with copies sent to the Anti-defamation League,
 the National Conference for Community and Justice, the Columbia Journalism
 Review, the Utah Division of Business & Economic Development and the Utah
 State Governor's Office.
 
 
      Sincerely,
 
      Bruce L. Olsen
      Managing Director
      Public Affairs Department
 
 
 
      cc: Anti-defamation League
          The National Conference for Community and Justice
          The Columbia Journalism Review
          The Utah Division of Business & Economic Development
          The Utah State Governor's Office
          CNN.com Online Managing Editor Chuck Westbrook
          CNN.com Online Executive Editor Edwin Vidal
 
 SOURCE  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints