Memo to Peggy Fletcher Stack, of the Salt Lake Tribune:
Not all LDS blogs or bloggers in the bloggernacle joined in the rush to bash President Julie Beck. Ordinarily I enjoy reading Peggy Fletcher Stack’s articles in the Tribune. Most of the time, I think she does a good job of producing well written, balanced articles about religion generally, and specifically about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormon Church. But, Stack’s article in today’s Tribune departs from her normally calm and measured reporting.
Within minutes of giving the speech before the 21,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered in the giant Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City or listening via television, radio or satellite feed, Mormon men and women across the country were furiously responding on Mormon blogs.
While it is true that within minutes the bloggernacle was awash in various comments and posts about President Beck’s speech, Ms. Stack leaves the distinct impression that by far the vast majority of the comments and/or posts were negative:
Debate about the speech has continued unabated throughout this week. By now, there have been a half-dozen conversations simultaneously raging on several Mormon sites, generating hundreds of mostly critical comments about the speech, though not about Beck herself.
While referencing blogs, in the plural, Ms. Stack chose to link and name, only one—Feminist Mormon Housewives, likely the most controversial, and fiery blog discussing Mormon and women’s issues–mostly from an extreme feminist slant. Known in the ‘nacle as fMh for short, it was conceived and is run by fMh Lisa Butterworth,
who was profiled along with fMh in a March 2005 article in the New York Times.
It was the second time in less than one week that Ms. Stack has officially linked fMh in one of her Tribune articles. On 10/6/07, Stack devoted an entire article to fMh, Ms. Butterworth and their collective self identified “Mormon feminists” The article was overwhelmingly positive, characterizing fMh as a blog where it was safe to be a feminist and “faithful.” Whether that is true, is probably the subject of a completely different post, which frankly I’m not really interested in exploring. One can visit fMh and come to their own conclusions.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with Ms. Stack writing fondly of feminist Mormon housewives, but when she goes out of her way to profile the same blog in less than a week, and then imply as she did in the Beck article that the tone and tenor of most of the bloggernacle discussion mirrored that which took place on fMh, one begins to question Ms. Stack’s objectivity.
Ms. Stack deliberately neglected to mention various other specific positive posts and the myriads of positive comments in other posts discussing President Beck’s address. Why? And, how did Ms. Stack conclude that the “hundreds” of comments generated about President Beck’s talk were in fact negative. Did she actually tally the numbers? It would have been nice to have a reference, or at least a reference to a percentage.
Notably absent from Ms. Stack’s article were several positive posts and hundreds of comments about the talk, most of which were positive, and better both in content and construction than that cited over at fMh. Specifically, Ms. Stack missed the following:
I was disappointed in the initial but very predictable reaction of what I think is a vocal minority in the bloggernacle. I was likewise disappointed that Ms. Stack’s article left her readers and the world with the mistaken impression that the vast majority of LDS bloggers and members viewed President Beck’s talk negatively. You are a better columnist than that, Ms. Stack. Please reclaim your normally balanced and objective reporting style on LDS issues, citing both sides next time.
Update: David Sundwall over at A Soft Answer posted on the same article and noted that newspapers “usually ignore blogs”.