The Pew Religious Affiliation Survey
and a Tale of Two Newspapers
That wasn’t always the case. Until recently, the Deseret News held its own as a respected albeit conservative newspaper, garnering many a prestigious journalism award along the way. But as the Internet placed traditional newspapers in peril, the Deseret News saved itself by abandoning journalism and emerging as a blatant Mormon Church mouthpiece.
Never has this been more evident that in its reporting of the Pew Research Center's 2014 Religious Landscape Study.
Utah’s surviving real newspaper, The Salt Lake Tribune, reported the study under the headline “Christianity shrinking in U.S. ...” adding an appropriate local note, “... Mormon numbers essentially flat.” Note that the headline doesn’t mention the Pew study. It makes its own claims and in the text cites the study to back them up.
The Deseret News spun the survey into a de facto Pew endorsement of Mormonism. One headline read, “New Pew survey reinforces Mormons' top goals of family, marriage.” Another read, “LDS religious commitment high, Pew survey finds.” In fact, the survey makes no such evaluative claims. Even to infer as much from the study is a stretch.
Disingenuous pro-Mormon spin is par for the course for the Deseret News, whose mission appears to be to make the Mormon Church smell good no matter what. Indeed, Mormon culture tends to label reporting that does not finish by praising the church as “anti-Mormon.” Considering that nearly half of Utahns rely on the Deseret News for their primary news source, this is disconcerting to say the least.
Yesterday, Salt Lake Tribune writer George Pyle added his own pithy perspective to the Pew study under the headline “Utah religion numbers turn out not to be so odd,” which we highly recommend (click here).