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Journalists Flee Utah Newspaper Overtaken by PR
Journalists working for Utah's oldest continuously-published daily newspaper, the Deseret News, are leaving the paper in a dispute over the new direction in the paper's journalism. The problem started when the paper published a front-page story written entirely by Michael Purdy, the head of the LDS Church's public relations department. The paper did not identify the "reporter" as a member of the Church's public affairs department. Joel Campbell, who blogs about Mormon media for the Deseret News and is an active Mormon, is one of those leaving the paper. He says printing the news story was an "anathema to journalism" and presents an ethical conflict. The newspaper also recently laid off 85 members of its staff, and emailed Campbell asking him not to blog about it. Instead, the paper put out a news release that buried information about the layoffs six or seven sentences deep. Campbell complained that the paper was trying to control the message about it, and their actions were offensive to those getting laid off. The Deseret News is owned by a subsidiary of a for-profit holding company owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon or LDS Church.