Church Members Can Correct Inaccurate Media Reports
News coverage of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members (sometimes called Mormons) is increasing. As journalists put stories on television, radio and into print, misconceptions and errors about the Church and its beliefs do appear from time to time.
Latter-day Saints who want to become part of the conversation when they feel the Church has been misrepresented should feel confident to do so. The following suggestions can help assure a successful dialogue with writers and editors.
Alex Powell, a member of the Church's Finley Branch, Wangaratta District, suggests, “Rather than feeling irritated by misreporting, make use of the perfect opportunity to explain doctrine.” He also believes in inviting the spirit to the discussion by use of the same “soft answer” that turns away wrath. (Proverbs 15:1)
The Church's Guidelines and helps for Latter-day Saints participating in online conversations about the Church offers the following suggestions:
“You're speaking as an individual member of the Church, sharing personal perspectives. Don't leave an impression that you are speaking officially for the Church. It's your own experiences that will be insightful and interesting.”
“Be friendly and polite, even if you comment anonymously. Act like you would if you were talking to your next door neighbor. How you comment may be just as important as what you say.”
“What helps the most are thoughtful and measured voices that explain the Church and what it's like to be a member.”
Latter-day Saints can certainly empathise with journalists who are working to meet deadlines and who are not familiar with Church doctrine and history. The Church's Newsroom website describes their situation this way:
“Much misunderstanding about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints revolves around its doctrine. The news media is increasingly asking what distinguishes the Church from other faiths, and reporters like to contrast one set of beliefs with another.
”The Church welcomes inquisitiveness, but the challenge of understanding Mormon doctrine is not merely a matter of accessing the abundant information available. Rather, it is a matter of how this information is approached and examined.
“The doctrinal tenets of any religion are best understood within a broad context, and thoughtful analysis is required to understand them. News reporters pressed by daily deadlines often find that problematic.”
Journalists seeking to understand the doctrine and history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can go to Approaching Mormon Doctrine, to the Australia Website and to the categorizedAustralian Press Kit.