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Wednesday
Oct212009

On Journalistic Integrity

Many things have occurred in my life since I wrote this post. Some bad, some good. Nonetheless, it seems to have ignited a firestorm of controversy among journalists here in Salt Lake City. Which I believe is a good thing because it's a topic that should be addressed. So y'all, today I'm going to deviate from my usual meaningful and life-changing drivel about beer and wine and cheese and beer to address a very important issue. Old friends, excuse me while I talk to the new kids on the blog.

Hello new readers sent to me by my venerable colleague Joel Campbell. Are you here to discuss whether or not I can objectively report on the LDS church in light of posts like this, this, this aaaand this? Oooh, I left out this one and it's important. So, you want to discuss journalistic integrity, yes?

Wonderful! Let's begin.

Let me first ask you, new reader, can Mr. Campbell objectively report on whether or not I can objectively report on the LDS church, you know, considering he is a Latter-Day-Saint who writes for a Mormon paper which touts itself as "for and about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints"? For that matter, can KSL news and The Deseret News objectively report on LDS-related stories considering they are Mormon-owned and in the Deseret News' case anyway, Mormon operated?

But wait. Let me take you back. Aaaallll the way back to 2008.

When then prophet of the Mormon church, Gordon B. Hinckley, died I stayed late at work, poring over dozens of archive tapes from LDS General Conferences over the years (do you know how hard that is? do you know how similar every, single conference looks? do you know how long conferences last?) to find this humorous quote of his, that famous saying about temples he made, the time he joked about a hospital visit and that other time he teared up discussing the death of his wife Marjorie. And then! Putting it all together cohesively in an eloquent Remembering Hinckley tribute for FOX 13 News. And then, my goodness, tracking down specific LDS hymns (learned as a child) for editors that I knew would be appropriate with the piece and I would not, could not rest until I found God Be With You Till We Meet Again with which we would emotionally fade to black at the end of the piece... I've also written dozens of stories about the LDS church sending disaster relief to third-world countries and I've often suggested reporters cover LDS conferences in Salt Lake City and what they mean to Mormon faithful. Living in Utah, those examples are just a drop in the bucket of LDS-related issues we've covered.

But the Mormon church doesn't always earn kudos, oftentimes it elicits outrage, most recently, about Elder Dallin Oaks remarks at BYU-Idaho. Please allow me to direct you to FOX 13's coverage of LDS Apostle Dallin Oaks' controversial analogy comparing the backlash against Proposition 8 supporters to the tortures black people endured in the South.

An objective observer might find that FOX 13's coverage of this event is the most unbiased accounting in Utah media that day. I stand solidly behind our coverage, am PROUD of our coverage and I don't know that the same could be said for employees of other news outlets.

In the early evening newscasts KSL simply regurgitated Oak's speech, leaving out altogether his absolutely offensive and appalling analogy and the church's increasingly hostile stance toward gay civil rights. Later, anchor/reporter and LDS church member Carol Mikita (a veritable KSL institution) put together this piece. An objective observer might find KSL's piece nothing more than a rehash of Oaks' speech rather than a journalistic parsing of the controversial comments. The only soundbite from Mikita's report? Elder Dallin Oaks. Ours? Oaks, of course, and we sought reaction from an NAACP spokeswoman and a spokesman from Equality Utah, a gay rights organization. The ONLY reason Oaks' speech made top story/front page news in the first place was the controversial comparison to blacks in the south. In light of that I'd go so far as to argue that KSL's piece is biased. But hey, that's just me. I'll leave that for other journos to debate.

I also strongly urge you to read Scott Taylor from The Deseret News' display of journalistic integrity. If you're anything like me you may feel as if you've just returned from a Sunday School lesson. I'm hard-pressed to find the hard news value of this article. Please, new reader, picture Jerry Mcquire in your head and hear me when I shout SHOW ME THE JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY!

Yet you're here, questioning me. Why? Because the LDS church bullied me into taking down a tweet and I wrote about it. ON MY PERSONAL BLOG. I happen to think this says more about the church than my journalistic integrity but again, I'll let you judge for yourself.

My outrage regarding Oaks' statements would have been the same had the exact comments been made by, oh, say, Jay Leno. Admittedly, I'm a Letterman girl, always have been, but my point remains: my reaction was not because of my distaste for the LDS church it was because the comments are deeply offensive.
"These incidents were expressions of outrage against those who disagreed with the gay-rights position and had prevailed in a public contest. As such, these incidents of violence and intimidation are not so much anti-religious as anti-democratic. In their effect they are like the well-known and widely condemned voter-intimidation of blacks in the South".
Dude. DUUUUUDE. Blacks were lynched and beaten and spit upon and denied the right to vote by the government. To compare that IN ANY WAY to criticism of Mormons for donating or voting for Prop 8 is ludicrous, offensive and quite honestly, a dumb move on the church's part. I don't care how many words of Oaks' speech Mr. Campbell counted that espoused church doctrine it was those words, no matter how few, that are outrageous.

"There are civil rights involved in this," Oaks said, "the right to speak your mind, to participate in the election," Oaks said. "But you don't have a civil right to win an election or retaliate against those who prevail." How dare this man speak of civil rights when the church he helps lead was instrumental in passing a Proposition denying civil rights to hundreds of thousands of loving couples. A civil right Oaks would have you believe is "alleged".

A second threat to religious freedom is from those who perceive it to be in conflict with the newly alleged civil right of same-gender couples to enjoy the privileges of marriage.
I smell damage control, but no, Mr. Oaks, despite what you'd like the world to believe, your church is not a victim of Proposition 8, IT IS THE PERPETRATOR.

I find it ironic that Oaks suggested that atheists and others are seeking to intimidate people of faith and silence their voices in the public square even as an LDS spokeswoman called me to bully me into removing a tweet I made while covering this story:

LDS apostle gives speech at BYU-Idaho. The contents of which has my head exploding and FOX seeking a response from the NAACP. More at Five.

No embargo was broken. I did not divulge the contents of Oaks super-secret speech. Seems to me it was the LDS church seeking to intimidate people NOT of their faith and silence their voices from the public square.

The point I'm laboring to make, new reader, is this: My personal animosity toward the church doesn't affect my ability to objectively cover LDS-related stories any more than that of an LDS journalist, such as our good pal Joel Campbell or the lovely Carol Mikita over at KSL. Any perceived bias a news viewer might infer from my blog would be the exact same perceived bias a viewer might have reading BYU professor Joel Campbell's piece, watching KSL knowing it is church-owned or watching Mikita's report knowing she considers Oaks to be a beloved, spiritual leader of her church. Hell, a a quick look at Mikita's bio has me wondering why more of you aren't questioning her journalistic integrity considering how many special interest LDS-related stories she's churned out since 1979. And what about the very talented Dan Rascon over at KUTV? Wasn't he or isn't he a bishop in the LDS church? Someone who espouses doctrine that I and many other nonmembers find as disgusting as you find my "ten vulgarities", Joel Campbell? Should Rascon recuse himself from all LDS-related journalistic endeavors? I suspect he, like me, would say a good journalist doesn't let his personal opinions get in the way of the story. A solid journalistic standard which I think, in this particular case, makes me a better journalist than a BYU journalism professor.

EVERYONE who works in media has a personal bias about something. Several on-air personalities at FOX 13 are devout Mormons who remain wonderfully objective about LDS coverage. Would I be surprised if a few of them have personal blogs espousing LDS doctrine or fervently documenting their testimony that Joseph Smith was a true prophet? No. Am I personally biased against the LDS church? HELL YES! Are many, many other local journalists biased in favor of the church? HELL YES! Do my feelings about Mormonism affect my ability as a journalist to objectively report on crowds gathering for general conference, the church's wonderful efforts to help victims of the tsunami in Samoa or Dallin Oaks ridiculous speech?

In a word: NO.

Much like a defense attorney who knows her client is guilty, I set aside personal feelings and do my job. And I do it well.

Other local media on this subject:

Santa, Objectivity and the Easter Bunny
Tweet, Ye Shall Not

Reader Comments (79)

Because I have no ties whatsoever to this odd church, they seem like total hypocrites and bullies. Someone clearly needs to take them down or at least teach them tolerance. This post was very, very good.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCassie

Oh snap! Nicely done...

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

wow. WOW. while i love the beer /dog/ baby stories, this is more riveting-- way to stand up for truth and integrity. nicely done.

ps...can serge give me access to thunder pie? i was a devoted lurker.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersusan

I became a reader of your site when Dooce tweeted about the post that started this firestorm, and I really admire you.

Thanks for this post, and for all the other ones related to your relationship/struggle with the Mormon church. I've been struggling with my separation from the Catholic church (my parents aren't speaking to me and have broadcast their opinion that my unbaptized baby daughter's soul will be tortured for all eternity - YAY!!), and reading your blog has helped me feel not quite so alone.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjive turkey

EXECUTIVE Producer??? That is so fancy! I'm so proud of you, Monica. In the wise words of Rachel Zoe: You just shut it down.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCookieface

How laughable!

--> "Do my feelings about Mormonism affect my ability as a journalist to objectively report on crowds gathering for general conference, the church's wonderful efforts to help victims of the tsunami in Samoa or Dallin Oaks ridiculous speech? In a word: NO."

You have clearly represented just how lost you are in the circles of rhetoric! Laughable!

Homosexuals are not being denied anything! They have the same rights as everyone else. They can get married just like everyone else--to a person of the opposite sex--just like everyone else! Because that's what marriage is. No, they think they are "more special" (and perhaps they are), and need exceptional and extended rights. You're lost in more ways than one. But, laughable ... really. Yeah, you're so objective and correct and never let your biased piss-storm distaste for your former church leak into your own reporting huh? In a word: NOT!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterrisefromthedust

I can't believe I wasted my time reading this.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLOL

I absolutely LOVE this post, and here is why:
Firstly, you live in a State and City, HIGHLY controlled and influenced by a Church.
Most reporter/ journalist don't have the cajones to go up against said Church for fear of backlash and eventual journalistic death. These reporters have reason and I understand their dilemma, however, just like a Military State, someone must eventually stand up against the bully.

To report with an UNBIASED angle about this Corporation, that is, to report BOTH sides to a story (as with Elder Oaks) is considered almost treason in that State of yours. So I submit that the ONLY journalist that get backlash are those DOING THEIR JOB! Any of the "safe" journalist and articles mentioned in your blog, have, by default, bent the story to please it's MASTER, The Church of Cheese and Rice. For only the tall grass gets cut by the swift, sharp media machine. If you feel that cold blade pressing down, you must be doing something right!
Tyler Leavitt, Las Vegas NV, Mormon, BYU grad, former Missionary.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGrammar G

Wow, another angry ex who's life is now dedicated to making everyone as miserable as they are. Better luck next time.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterExecutive Producer eh

I think it's a stretch to say Joel Campbell's article was ABOUT you, as your "tweet" suggested. As for the rest of your post, I won't get into it. I just think the tweet was a bit narcissistic.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermac

I am a BYU Journalism student and just wanted to say thank you for bringing another point of view to this debate. I think your perspective is very valid and is important to be voiced.
So thank you for standing up for what you believe.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnon.

In Joel's defense... Had he in any way given credence to anything you had written on your blog, he would be finding his contract to teach at BYU expired at the end of the semester.

It's a stark contrast to your News director who sounds like one heck of a boss!!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterUrban Koda

My news director is the most brilliant, honest, amazing journalist I've ever met. And I'd say that if she fired me tomorrow. I absolutely LOVE her.

October 21, 2009 | Registered CommenterThe Girl Who...

Great post! I too am a recovering sumbeam. I found Dooce about 6 months ago and found you through her Its great to know there are others out there! I find you to be far more biased than I could ever be. Great job again!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine

sorry, please make that Sunbeam.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine

I think what you've done is shine a glaring light at the bias most journalist have in favor of the church. Personally, I have nothing against the people of the church or the doctrine in general. But you would have been a bad journalist if you had ignored the ridiculous comment made during the speech. I commend you and hope you have a long and successful career as a journalist in Utah. We need you here!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

A Fox 13 employee talking about journalistic professionalism? Sorry, but I have a hard enough time respecting any broadcast news outside of The News Hour, and any "news" show that spends a good chunk of its time reporting on American Idol (like Fox 13) is in the bottom of that barrel. I think I'll stick with Joel, who has spent his career practicing, studying and teaching about journalism and media, as well as working tirelessly for journalists' rights.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNathan

As a former Mormon, I hear believers say time and time again that I left the church, so why can't I leave the church alone? I'm happy to leave the church alone, until I find it offensive and that speech was offensive. I'm going to speak out when that happens.

I think it's quite obvious that it's possible to separate your professional and personal views. Why are people having such a hard time with this?

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWendy P.

Amen. I am a reporter in Ogden and I think too much is made of people's ability to objectively cover something even if they have a personally expressed opinion about something.

Well put and good job.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDi

Petty fights between crazy Mormons and crazy anti-Mormons. Just another reason I'll never live in Utah. The world does not revolve around this church.

And when did we start considering broadcast reporters journalists?

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRob

My response:

I don't pretend that my column is objective journalism. I have made full disclosure all of my conflicts in a previous column. It's a column. It's my opinion. Sure it's biased. That what columnists do -- write their opinion. What I don't do is write my opinion and then go out and cover a news story on that subject. To me that's a conflict of interest. At least I've disclosed my conflicts. I read some other columnists around town and wish they would disclose their conflicts of interest. I also got a response from Ms. Bielanko and her station. I dare you to find the last time Warchol did that before he skewered someone on the Salt Lake Crawler blog (hosted and paid for by the Salt Lake Tribune).

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoel Campbell

As a new reader (I just followed you on twitter) I have to say a couple of things, first I'm not here to trash you or your opinions nor defend the LDS Church. I consider myself more informed than most only because I take the time to read and study all sides of an argument where most people congregate only where they can be told what they want to hear while trashing the opposite points of view they rarely even investigate.

Having said that I think both you and Elder Oaks had valid points, I think he went too far with his black example but I also can site and he should have instances where people are getting black listed for their opinions, rabidly attacked at a personal level, loosing jobs, having homes damaged, receiving death threats, finding hate vandalism on their businesses etc. for their position against gay marriage. He knows of these and should have stated them to back up his position.

I think it was these kinds of things he was likening to the civil rights and slave issues. Yes they have not yet strung up any Mormon, or Catholic, or the millions of others who stood with them, no one is getting drug behind cars in the night, raped, or beaten to my knowledge.

The issue he started to make and seems to be lost on most is that religion in general is under attack all over the country. Not just about this issue but about many. There is nothing wrong with discourse and disagreement, however far too many of those who disagree with religious positions have become hateful, intolerant, cruel, and divisive. Often stretching the truth and making personal attacks in place of substantive arguments.

This in-turn breeds free, hatred, and escalation of the rhetoric on both side. It does not take much effort to see which side is doing more damage and speaking with more hate. Those against religious positions regularly use hate filled and personal attacks, call for violence and use vulgar language against those of religious positions many of which happen to also lean conservative.

These personalized attacks, vulgarity, threats and calls for acts of violence go mostly unchallenged and unreported and further garner fear and defensiveness among religious people of all walks, not just LDS people. lastly, although the LDS church gets all the attention in Utah across the country the same message is going out from religious leaders of other sects, that the freedom of speech is under attack regardless of the topic, we may not all agree on ideology or specific issues like gay marriage. However it is in everyones best interests to protect freedom of speech in all forms including religious ones we may disagree with.

For crusading journalists it's time you set aside your personal beliefs and start standing up for freedom of speech even as you disagree with others viewpoints because at some point down the road it will be your views getting attacked, then ignored, then censored. We have to protect all speech to ensure what we believe is always allowed to be spoken regardless of popular opinion, trends, fads,politics, or even what may be right to the majority or we all loose in the end even journalists.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermichaelm

Good points, Monica. I'm a newspaper journalist and a former Catholic, and I can honestly say that most journalists I know do an incredible job of separating personal beliefs and their jobs. Whether covering political races, clergy or the public healthcare debate, there is a wall that exists when you're working on a story, and all you care about is creating the best story possible. It's an issue of journalistic ethics, but also one of pride. I know I wouldn't feel comfortable around my colleagues if I believed I'd created something that wasn't good, honest and fair.

Those whose beliefs are on the extreme will always find some sort of bias when a story isn't explicitly supporting their position. In the meantime you can hold your head up high knowing that you did your job.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate

Monica, as a longtime reader and also as a journalist, I have no ethical issue with how you handled this situation. I would have actually spoken up for not deleting the tweet, since you did not break the embargo. I think it's sickening that the LDS PR machine is trying to manipulate things this way, although it's clear they have "home court advantage" with both media and people in Utah. Someone needs to call them on their bullshit, and you have my support in doing so.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenternewsgirl

Monica, I'm starting to have a girl crush on you. We're driving across London and I'm reading your post out loud to Paul (hey, mind the cyclist) from my iPhone. You are just brilliant - you sock it to 'em girl. Thank god (or not) for you and for Apple.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

I am impressed with this post as I am always impressed with your writing. I have followed your blog off and on for 3 or 4 years or so. Since Brooklyn. You are a terrific journalist with integrity and ethics. I believe, even as an exmorman, that you can and are objective in your reporting of LDS goings on. Keep up the good work.
Congratulations on escaping the creepy LDS. The LDS had no right to request your tweet be removed.
As for gay marriage, everyone should have the right to partake in the bliss and misery that is marriage. I made a big deal of going out and voting against the ban on gay marriage in my home state of Texas. I made sure my kids knew my stance. And that they knew my disappointment the ban passed. I wrote about it here: http://wyckedtexan.blogspot.com/2005/11/tolerance-in-texas.html
Anyways, you go girl!!!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWyndi

I just wasted WAY too much time reading all this, but it was fascinating. Now I'll go on with my day. That's the problem with local news--journalists can't go on with their day and are taught to sensationalize. And it's not an overt teaching. I think it's just learned along the way. They know they have to make a big deal out of something or it wont make air. How do you explain any house fire ever making it on the news unless someone was injured? My favorites are when "garage" fires are on the air. Seriously? Who cares? And because the story is so lame the promo better be great. But the journalist makes sure the story isn't boring or managers will say it was a poor effort and the story didn't live up to the dramatic promo. So the journalists has to run and get reaction from NAACP and gay rights groups, blah blah blah. It is what a "good" journalist would do to flesh out the story. Meantime, Joe Beercan, who is your average viewer, doesn't care. Joe will hear about Oaks speech and say "that was stupid to say" and be done with it. But journalists have to make a big deal out of it--it's their job.
True unbiased journalism has always been a problem and always will be. I am frankly happy to see more news organizations finally, even though they wont admit it, showing their true colors. No one has to guess if Fox News is Conservative driven and MSNBC is Liberal driven. It is the new journalism of the 21st Century. Lets all just stop pretending we don't have an opinion. Let the Desnews shout from the rooftops that they love the Mormon church and let the Trib openly say they hate Mormons, if they wish.
The days of a news anchor being the most trusted person in America died long before Cronkite passed away this year.
So way to go Monica! You have an opinion. But journalism--I'm not sure what that is anymore.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWasted Time

Church members need to remember that not everyone is LDS and believes It is the 'One True Church'. Thank you Monica for standing up for the rest of us. Your blog is comforting and helps me deal with my own set of very religious family and friends who feel I am 'lost'. "We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." You go, girl.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterashley

Just as a professional tip, don't bite the hand that feeds you. I'm sure you are for the most part able to seperate your hate for the LDS church with you ability to do your job. But, don't broadcast your hate and expect people to believe you. You work in SLC, the church is kind of a big deal there. The church knows they will be covered by you, so they look to influence that coverage. that is what PR people do. You need the info they provide because, no matter how liberal your audience is, people want to know about the church.
On a personal level, why live in Utah if you hate the church so much? It is everywhere in Utah. Isn't there a Fox affiliate somewhere else looking for an executive producer? I'm sure you have heard that arguement before.
Also, wouldn't you rather see people with religious zeal over people who wallow in apathy?

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDerek

As a fellow SLC journalist, I'll say only this: KSL needs to demand a different color of background when they do sit-down interviews with people in black suits. On my screen, Oaks looks like he's floating between invisible lapels.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErin

Bravo. Well said while traveling on the high road!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlana

I am standing up at my desk giving this post a standing ovation. No words could accurately portray just how big of a HELL YES WAHOO! high five I am giving you for so eloquently, objectively, and awesomely writing what so desperately needed to be said.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenny Bauman

Monica - you rock. So impressed. Cannot get over how repressed some folks in your neck of the woods are. Unbelievable. As a fellow (ex) journo I salute you.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCrummyMummy

I can only imagine the fire in the gut this has engendered in your life. I haven't been following long, but know this: You are fantastic.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterms.mildred

"Also, wouldn't you rather see people with religious zeal over people who wallow in apathy?

FUCK NO!

More people have died because of "religious zeal" than anything else in the world. People with "religious zeal" drove planes into the WTC. People with "religious zeal" organized the mass killing of six million jews. In this case I prefer apathy.

October 21, 2009 | Registered CommenterThe Girl Who...

As someone who graduated with a B.A in Journalism from BYU, I must say that you have just shown exactly what was taught to me by professors such as Joel. I have to laugh because everyone knows that the Church controls what is considered to be "news" here in the state of Utah. In fact, all editorial boards control the news flow. It's called writing for your targeted audience and attracting advertisers.

Everyone is biased. I applaud you because you are not afraid to show yours.

About a decade ago, I got in trouble with the LDS church because I was quoted on the front page of the Daily Herald in an article. Was I misquoted? NO. Had I told falsehoods? NO. The problem, simply put, was that I was quoted more times than the official church spokesman at that time, and that even though I was the person most qualified to talk on the subject, I was out of line because ALL news needed to come through the proper channels. I, apparently, was not the anointed one.

Come on, Monica, if the LDS Church wishes you to report the news a certain way, well, who the hell are you to rock the boat? How dare you do your job and try to show all sides of the argument. Get with the times.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterM

You've got some wicked courage - and I love it! Bravo!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCindi

Monica,

Be careful what you say. The mass killing of six million Jews was not religion-driven. It was an ethnic-driven one.

And like others have said, don't bite the hand that feeds you. How can you expect the Church to give you anything after that completely unprofessional tirade?

I agree that it's terrible that the D-News didn't even quote or mention the supposed bad remark by Elder Oaks, but as a completely biased journalist, I think you go looking for stuff to skewer the Church on. All those nice pieces Fox has done on the Church isn't because you are an objective journalist as much as it is done because of your audience. If you didn't have to appease your viewers, you'd kill the Church any time you could.

You sound like a 10-year old... "But they did it first! I can do this because everyone else is!" If you really were a professional journalist, you'd admit your faults on being biased, and rise above the fray of biased journalists. Shame on you.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterUtah resident

If you read carefully about Hitler's Jewish hatred you'll find religion (his own Catholic upbringing) deeply rooted in his extermination attempts. It wasn't just ethnically motivated.

All those nice pieces FOX did for the church was because it was the news of the day. If the church makes news, be it good, bad, controversial or boring it will likely be covered because it is news in Utah. And yes, news is viewer driven by nature. As the percentage of Utah Mormons is high, of course those stories will be covered. Do I hate covering LDS-related issues? Not at all. And I honestly believe FOX is one of the only local media outlets to cover them without bias. The only stories I wish we never had to cover? Child fatalities/abuse and animal abuse. Those are tough.

Every journalist is biased, friend, whether they admit it or not. Being biased isn't a "fault" it's a fact. Journalists set their bias aside to accurately and objectively cover the story.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who...

Anyone who ends a a comment with "Shame on you" probably lives alone, with obese cats.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSanto

Tell it.

You're one hellava journalist and rock on as being impartial when it comes reporting. Thank Goddess someone is voicing some compassion for the group of minorities (gays) that is being denied a privilege allowed for others simply because of their sexual orientation. Ahem, it's 2009... haven't we all learned that discrimination is wrong by now? For 'them' (LDS) to conjure up a similarity between those who supported Prop. 8 and those who suffered for civil rights in the South is in a word: sickening.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I am a fairly new reader, and I just wanted to say that I am proud of you for standing up equality and separation of church and state (and also, I love your blog and look forward to reading the rest of the story about how you and Serge came to be).
As a former journalist, I know how difficult it is to do your job with someone always blaming you of a bias, no matter what you do. It's infuriating. I'd like to see everyone else set aside their biases and discuss news topics "objectively." It's a lot harder than you think. Even if you think it is completely unbiased, someone will ALWAYS be pointing the finger at you. We're humans - get over it, read differing viewpoints of the topic, and make up your own mind!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKrystan

Loving the new readers.

I liked Mr. Campbell's response to you on here. I also liked the respectful comments - excluding any that admonished. You're not a child, thus no one should be admonishing you.

Although my work background should have prepared me, I'm always astonished to see how strong the LDS influence is in your home state. I mean, I get it, but MAN. We so don't roll like that here. As you know. :-)

Anyhoo, I'm very proud of you for moving back and working and living and building a life and career in a place with so much to both comfort and challenge you. That's a feat few attempt, and that's what I want to congratulate you on.

xoxo

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEDW

Joel Campbell cracks me up. Maggie Gallagher is the last person he should be quoting when trying to make his argument about credibility. From the WaPo:

In 2002, syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher repeatedly defended President Bush's push for a $300 million initiative encouraging marriage as a way of strengthening families.

But Gallagher failed to mention that she had a $21,500 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to help promote the president's proposal.

Joel is FAIL.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChino Blanco

oh Monica, I don't know much about whole news down at your place to comment it [just from your blog], but I can say, we definitely NEED you up here to say loudly and stright about gays and journalistic correctness I agree with what you point out, and as you I hate hypocrisy, I think the Roman Catholic Church has the same problem right know, I was risen as Catholic but now I can see black, HUGE hole in their behavior. great written! thanks for being REAL! I appreciate it.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterana_jo

Monica, if you are able to report favourably or objectively on the LDS church, that's lovely. You're a rock star. Way to do your job. AWESOME.

My post that started some of this was meant to show the bias that exists out there that is NOT MADE KNOWN. NO WHERE did I say that you're a terrible journalist. I did not comment on your professional work because I haven't seen it. I wanted people to see that there are strong biases that exist out there in news media and you just happened to provide a colourful example.

I thought it was terribly obvious the difference between the bias the LDS church media has and the bias the rest of the news media has but since it's not obvious to you or Heather,

http://www.becomingsomething.com/2009/10/to-dooce-and-monica-bielanko.html

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNatasha

Monica:

As a fellow journalist, forgive me, but I believe it's beyond unprofessional to reveal your opinion about anything you cover on a daily basis. Not that you can't be objective ... but that you're destroying any chance that anyone will believe you CAN be objective.

I have biases as a reporter, I'll admit, but I absolutely do not wear them on my sleeve, let alone post them in a public, online forum that can be traced back to my professional life. That's part of the importance of striving for objectivity - if your audience and your interviewee perceive you as otherwise, it doesn't matter how hard you strive to create an unbiased piece -- that doesn't count for anything because they simply will not believe you. What's the point of living in pursuit of reporting the truth, if scarcely anyone believes it IS the truth? A journalist's reputation is everything in this business, and you have just deliberately dragged yours through the muddied waters of flagrant opinion.

If you were paid to give your opinion, like a commentator or a columnist, this would be fine. Or if you had voiced your opinion while covering politics or if science was your beat, sounding off on the Mormon church would be of no significance. But you're making an enormous mistake by being so vocal about your animosity toward an institution that you were assigned to cover. I would not blame them one bit if they shunned you from now on.

Decisions like yours are destroying everything that journalists like myself have fought to protect and salvage: the respect and trust of the public. When they complain that the press is biased, pay attention: they are talking about you.

Please reconsider.

Respectfully, your colleague,

Kirsten

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKirsten Bellissima

So I have read a couple of your entries via Dooce's tweets and am really enjoying the education I'm getting. How hard must it be to live and work somewhere that embodies the opposite of everything you believe in. I am gaining more and more respect for non-Mormon Utah residents. Plus it makes my state look a little better in comparison (Illinois)!

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSue

Also, something to consider: What do you think would happen if Barbara Walters wrote a blog post vividly detailing her political or religious opinions in the same manner you did? Think she might lose her job? Think she might get fewer gigs?

"It's my personal blog! It's my personal blog!" Ya, so was Dooce's and she got fired. *shrugs*

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNatasha

I love that someone is out spoken and the church has noticed! thanks!

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

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