Finally, candor from both S.L. newspapers

In one of his first editorials since taking the helm at The Salt Lake Tribune, Terry Orme sets his leadership with a piece titled “Tribune is the independent source for news of LDS Church.”

He begins his editorial thusly,

The Salt Lake Tribune was founded by excommunicated converts to the Mormon church. … Over 147 years, The Tribune has evolved from a newspaper that could be rabidly anti-Mormon to a reliable and respected source of news about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I met the former editor only once but got to know another editor, Vern Anderson, a bit better – I like them both and am grateful that Vern was always open to running anything I wrote. Frankly, we knew my stuff provided good copy for the Tribune faithful. For my part, I’m a war-time general and need enemies and the Tribune faithful are pretty much the stereotype enemy – secular, liberal, rabidly anti-Mormon and irrational supporters of Big Government. And even if they’re none of those things at any given point in time, they’ve always been whatever I’m not (for good and bad).

I appreciate the new editor’s candor in revealing his motives even if I can challenge the virtue of his cause. Yes, the Tribune always has been anti-Mormon but, no, I don’t think it’s a “respected source” for much anything Mormon. On the one hand, I feel sincerely sorry for so many people in the Tribune camp who are disaffected and disillusioned former Latter-day Saints. Heaven knows any community of faith, comprised of fallen human beings, are prone to show weaknesses as much as strengths and there are more than enough opportunities to offend.

But, on the other hand, some folks simply choose to be offended. When you’re looking for an excuse, any excuse will do. Though natural and unsurprising for the Tribune, I still take umbrage that a corporation, and one that claims to be home to real journalists, coalesces around institutional bitterness. The Tribune is filled with great people and good journalists. It’s too bad that a news group “intent on giving voice to the minority of nonmembers” often must do so at the expense of the majority.

But why would we have it any other way? The juxtaposition between the Tribune and the Deseret News is practically poetic. Both papers now have clear missions: the D-News to promote the values, culture and society of the Latter-day Saints and the Tribune to oppose it all. I like that juxtaposition because it’s authentic. Few things have been more awkward in Utah than the one newspaper acting like its priority is objectivity – as the D-News did for many years – and the other newspaper acting like ridiculing and undermining faith, family and freedom is journalism.

Today, the world seems right. The D-News has shed pretensions about being some sort of secular industry standard and has assumed its duty to intelligently and professionally preserve faith, family and freedom in full concert with its owners’ goals. Likewise, the new Tribune unapologetically endorses the opposite in the name of minority rights within an oppressive state. This conflict, as long as it remains authentic, is good for Utah.

Then again, I’m not a native Utahn. I don’t mind disagreement. I invite debate. I like honest and candid dialogue and I have a sense of humor. The conflict energizes me and that’s not everyone’s cup of Postum.

For Sutherland Institute, I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.

The above post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations.

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