By Rachel Olsen
With all the media attention The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints received in February, public affairs for the church estimated 95 percent of it was positive.
In the church”s ongoing review of the coverage, Kim Farah, spokeswoman for the Public Affairs Department, said 8,000 articles have been tracked – most of them from the United States.
“It was a delightful experience working with the media; to have people coming in and asking ”what do you believe,” on doctrine and faith, Jell-O and alcohol,” Farah said.
Despite the overwhelmingly positive exposure, the negative aspects appeared to get more than their fair share of attention.
Both The Denver Post and The Washington Post printed stories that evoked controversy.
Woody Paige, a Denver Post columnist, apologized after his column disparaged Utah”s history of Jell-O, Latter-day Saints, alcohol, coffee, caffeine, the bid scandal and more. Twenty-four hours after publication, The Denver Post pulled the column from the paper”s Web site.
The Washington Post”s inquisitive essay and accompanying graphic about temple garments worn by Latter-day Saints riled some readers.
“The article”s sharp-edged and irreverent comments regarding so personal and intimate a subject have left many Latter-day Saints with the feeling of having been violated,” J. Willard Marriott Jr. and Ralph W. Hardy Jr. wrote in a letter to The Washington Post.
In another letter Kelsey W. French, who is not a Latter-day Saint, said the article was tasteless.
“To poke fun at someone”s religion at such a, well, intimate level is childish,” French said.
However, some Latter-day Saints say they feel people are too sensitive about the attention.
In a letter to The Washington Post, Niki Crawford, a Latter-day Saint, said she enjoyed the article. Crawford said Stuever approached a sensitive subject without mocking curiosity.
Andy Skabelund, 23, a junior from Orem majoring in biochemistry, said, “Mormons think that any type of criticism is a direct insult to who they are.”
Kathryn S. Egan, a professor of communications, said the article pandered to salaciousness to sell newspapers.
“It”s like going into a Jewish synagogue, taking out the Torah, and making fun of it,” Egan said.
However, Egan said regardless of whether people approve of them, the facts are true, so there is no recourse.
Farah said when reporters made factual errors, the church posted corrections and clarifications on its official Web site.