Newsroom Blog

The LDS Public Affairs team is now keeping an LDS Newsroom Blog, which is a very interesting step. Comments on it are closed, but it sounds like an effort to provide additional context and commentary to running news events and press releases. Sort of a director’s commentary track on a DVD, if you will. In my view this is an immensely positive thing for the Church to be doing; it helps to show a human quality to their public affairs efforts, and should make for some fascinating reading.

Comments

  1. Aaron Brown says:

    Will it be given a slot on Mormon Archipelago?

  2. har!

  3. We’ll probably have to wait and see if it meets the MA inclusion requirements of being generally church-friendly and focused on Mormonsim Aaron…

  4. Box 6.

  5. But will it win a Niblet award?

  6. Cynthia L. says:

    I think it would be useful if someone set up a site that basically mirrors the content but allows for comments. It would be especially useful if that someone’s approach to comment moderation was open-minded enough to allow for some latitude of discussion, but generally faithful.

    I think it would be a nice service to the church as well. I just don’t see how they can allow themselves to host comments wide-ranging enough to be interesting. But feedback on what they say could be useful to them behind the scenes.

  7. Umm, Cynthia…hello! That’s what OUR job is.

  8. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends almost entirely on the actual content. Sadly, I think they’re probably starting a blog more because that’s what everyone’s doing than because they actually want to be more transparent.

  9. Natalie B. says:

    I was more excited about this idea until I saw the first blog post they linked to. I hope that this blog doesn’t unintentionally serve the role of granting exclusive approval to some views and the blogs that express them and instead promotes transparent, honest, and diverse discussion.

  10. Steve vans, Why the har? I think this is would be a great think to link into MA. It would definitely be a positive thing

  11. Evans, not vans, stupid fingers.

  12. Steve Evans says:

    Natalie, Get Religion is an excellent site. I have no problem with some authors in the PR dept. sending readers their way – it’s a site that focuses on the treatment of religions in the media, so it is right up their alley.

    The problem with your complaint is that any linkage risks being perceived the way you state — in your view, should they be forbidden from linking to any non-Church-owned sites?

  13. Natalie B. says:

    My specific issue was with the post they linked to. I found its language dismissive and divisive on an already controversial topic. Not the kind of stuff I want to see the church endorsing or focusing our discussion on.

    I don’t have a specific solution as to what they should do. I’m just identifying a potential pitfall in a move that I generally think is quite good.

  14. Steve Evans says:

    Natalie, the post was dismissive of the media coverage, not of the underlying issues. I think you might be misreading it a bit. Personally I thought it got things about right — but again, are you saying that these guys shouldn’t be allowed to link to stuff unless it is (in your view) harmless?

  15. Two posts total. One about SSM. Seems about right for the bloggernacle.

  16. Eric Russell says:

    Still waiting for the Twelve to start a group blog.

  17. Natalie B. says:

    #14 – I don’t see what good it can do to have the newsroom blog become an extension of the Prop 8 debate, but that’s just my view. I thought comments like the MLK one were being a bit dismissive (here comes that tone question!), but I fully acknowledge that we can respond to things differently.

    But to the larger question, I think that the newsroom, being official, probably should attempt to avoid controversy. Sometimes it must address it, but it doesn’t need to seek it out. I am always more impressed when it plays a peace making role and shows ways in which the LDS church reaches out to the world. Surely, there’s lots of juicy details it could furnish on those topics.

  18. Why a blog, if comments are not going to be allowed?

  19. Mark Brown says:

    Natalie is correct. The blog post is weak for the following reasons:

    1. The linked article makes valid points, but it realies too heavily on sarcasm to make them, e.g.:

    “Tell that to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr!”

    “Wait a minute. Stop the presses.”

    “SAY WHAT!”

    “Who in tarnation…”

    “You don’t say.”

    Each of those points could have been made more effectively if the writer had been less juvenile, but Mollie acts like she’s trying to score points in a high school debate contest. As it stands now, the article reminds me of comments threads around the bloggernacle which I quit reading because the participants keep making the same tiresome points over and over again in increasingly belligerent and bullying ways.

    2. It’s wrong on at least one point. The author asserts that only gay rights activists are claiming that the church was damaged by its efforts in Prop 8. That is just sloppy reporting. Literally every Mormon I know in California has told me that friendships have suffered and that wards have less unity than they did before, and this assessment comes from Prop 8 supporters, too. The price may well be worth it, but it is disingenuous to claim that there is no price at all.

    Look at it this way, Steve. What would you think of me if, instead of making the effort to write a 2 or 3 paragraph blog post to illustrate why I think the church was mistreated in the original AP article ( and I do think the church was mistreated, badly), I just wrote two sentences linking to a post which sometimes adopts a snotty and bellierent approach? These are supposed to be professional PR guys. If they want to address concerns and provide context and insight, that’s great! I think the blog is a large step in the right direction, but if this is all they are going to do, nobody will ever read it.

  20. Mark Brown says:

    Here’s what I mean to say, but more succinctly.

    The newsroom blog needs a sidebar, and this link would have made good sidebar fodder. But as a blog post, especially as a first blog post, it was a misstep. I’m looking forward to better things.

  21. like DCR?

  22. I’m all in favor of the church taking a more engaged role on the web. I have no expectation that the content will be worth reading, and have a real fear that the church may come off as amateurish if not worse, but that said, I think this is a good step forward.

  23. Mark and Natalie, here’s my point: you’re overreacting by judging the Church on a link to a Get Religion article. Linking to an article and endorsing its overall message is not the same thing as authoring it. I thought it was just fine to do, and frankly pretty much what they ought to do.

  24. And here’s thought: maybe, just maybe the denizens of the Bloggernacle aren’t the target audience of the Newsroom blog.

  25. (sound of arrow hitting center of target)

  26. Who else is going to read it except for blog readers?

    I’ll come down on the side of saying if an official church department blog is going to link to outside articles, they should be professional-sounding ones and not sarcastic opinion pieces. That one was so snide I couldn’t even get through the whole thing.

  27. Mark Brown says:

    maybe, just maybe the denizens of the Bloggernacle aren’t the target audience of the Newsroom blog

    SAY WHAT! Stop the presses! Who in tarnation is the target audience?

    Wm and Steve, I have no problem with the bloggernacle not being the target of the Newroom blog. My problem is that the first effort looks like it was aimed at people who leave dumb and inflammatory comments on online Deseret News articles.

  28. Larry the Cable Guy says:

    I eagerly await the Newsroom Blog link to Police Beat.

  29. dumb and inflammatory comments on online Deseret News articles.

    Dribble?

  30. What happens if they let Sheri Dew take over this? Will we suddenly see her forcing the competition at BCC, T&S and other blogs shut down?

  31. “Who else is going to read it except for blog readers?”

    Linkage (context for linkage)

    —-
    Mark B.:

    I don’t dispute your analysis, but what exactly does the Newsroom gain by targeting an audience that is know to parse and quibble over every single little thing.

    In addition, I would imagine that part of the reason for the blog is to have something to push out in to realms where it can really take off and be read and repeated by members, such as Facebook and Twitter.

    It remains to be seen what the editorial strategy and tone of the blog is going to be over time. And I’m certainly not saying that it’s the ideal way to go about accomplishing whatever goals LDS Church Public Affairs has. Or that those goals align with those of most/some of us in the Bloggernacle.

    —-
    Sheri Dew:

    AMV is open to offers, depending on the dollars involved and the terms of the no-compete clause. Call me.

  32. Mark Brown says:

    Wm,

    I have a lot of respect for your opinion, and I do agree that the Newsroom blog has little to gain by pitching itself to such a narrow audience as this. However, I am proud of something about the bloggernacle. With all the quibbling and nit-picking, and even with the occasional contentiousness, I think the the bloggernacle is, hands down, several cuts above the average discourse in blogland. It is jarring to see the kind of name-calling and sarcasm that is so typical of the majority of other sites, and by acknowledging that the ‘nacle isn’t the primary audience, we also seem to be acknowledging that we are preparing to meet the online world on its own terms, using its own methods. I’m wary of anything that looks like a step in that direction, and while I may be a little too hasty to judge using only one post, that is all we have to work with so far, and the beginning is, to say no more, inauspicious.

    I’ll be interested to see how things develop going forward.

  33. I can’t argue with that, Mark.

    I think it’s a minor miracle that the bloggernacle has retained as much cohesion as it has for five+ years, and, obviously, I’ve invested a lot in it over that span of time.

  34. One thing that might help with some of these concerns is to link to tons of stuff, instead of “periodically” linking to articles around the blogosphere. If they’re fast and loose with the outbound links, it’ll send a very different, more open message than an occasional link will–if they only link to a few stories here and there, it’ll be very easy to read too much into the story selection.

    If that’s not feasible due to time or bureaucratic constraints, the sidebar suggestion is a good one.

  35. # 34,

    “Fast and loose.” I kinda doubt that this will happen–the church is, after all, still my grand-pappy’s church.

  36. Clay Whipkey says:

    I have perceived the newsroom to be gradually leaking out personality over the last several releases. That is to say, going from typical dry PR fare to the snippy and smug tone of the response to the Big Love temple episode. Perhaps the blog is set up as a place for the writers to have a little more leeway, a more personal voice, and maybe keep the press releases more professional? Just speculating at this point.

    In my elder’s quorum there was some discussion about the Big Love press release that hinted at the type of effect I think is the whole point of the newsroom to begin with. One brother mentioned how his wife had become worked up over the issue when she received the viral email to boycott HBO. Then, after reading the newsroom announcement, it was “perfect”, “inspired”, and helped them to calm down. But the interesting thing is that this effect was not achieved by inspiring tolerance, understanding, or forgiveness towards those who offend us… it had a calming effect by putting the offense into a persecution context. i.e. The influence of Satan is rampant in the world, and so this sort of thing should be expected (subtext: and folks who don’t “get” us are influenced by Satan).

    Now, I’m not saying that is the goal of the Church itself (what is “the Church” anyway?). But I really get the sense from some recent releases that there is a personal voice coming through, and I don’t think of it as someone being a jerk, or that there is necessarily an institutionalized jerkiness. It seems to me that its more like unfiltered zeal, like Peter cutting off the Roman soldier’s ear. Driven by a passionate love, an emotional reaction to the perceived attack on beloved things, but very reactive. This sarcastic article linked in the first NRblog post seems like more of that. The question is, if this is the kind of thing that will make it through the filters and approval of whomever is in charge over there, could it perhaps contribute to an actual perpetuation of nonconstructive reaction because it is being modeled by an official appendage of the church?

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