Friday, May 18, 2018

The Salt Lake Tribune indirectly describing the poor work of one of its own

            What irony—one (now former) Tribune employee complaining in the newspaper about what another Tribune employee, still on the job, does with the (alleged) news stories she writes.

The just-retired Mr. Rolly said: “And it just bugs me when I hear all these people talking about journalists who are trained to go out and find the truth and try and write objective stories and everything else as being fake news and then actually believing the crap that they see on social media where somebody just, you know, throws some idea out and pretends it’s a story. The next thing you know people are passing it around. And now we’re finding out that everybody was manipulated that way by people who were really trying to get phony ideas out there to meet a political agenda.” I don’t know what journalistic training Peggy may or may not have had, but she has ignored any she may have received. This description of throwing “some idea out and pretends it’s a story” is a perfect description of most of what she writes. Once in a while some hard news happens that she has to cover, and she gets it more or less (usually less) right, but more often, she is making up stories that fit her personal extreme social and political views on women’s and LGBT issues.

            Lest anyone accuse me of throwing out my own unsubstantiated charges, and calling that news, I offer the following headlines to many of her phony news stories; meaning she has thrown an idea out there to her friends and like-minded liberal/progressive/dissident types she keeps in her email address book and on speed dial:

            Headlines with commentary; and yes, I really did read most of these stories, unfortunately:

- “No Scouting? Mormon youth culture is about to change — big time” Here is a situation where the hard news that the church is dropping scouting is the actual news, but has already been reported earlier by the Tribune, so Peggy is casting about for other angles, all much less newsy and filled with opinion and conjecture instead of facts.

- “When their LDS leader falls, Mormon abuse survivors struggle to keep the faith” I can see no real news in this headline. What the headline is really trying to say is that LDS leaders fall, but it doesn’t say how rare it is or that abuse survivors have a long road of healing ahead of them—but this is a broad concept that is not news. Yet it gets the topic in the headlines where Peggy wants to keep it as a propaganda activist.

- “Mormon church to celebrate end to ban on blacks entering the priesthood” Whether this is really news or not is highly debatable, especially since the church itself announced it, but the real issue here is the wording of the headline, which points a finger using the word “ban” instead of saying “celebrate the 1978 Revelation on the Priesthood” which more accurately describes the reason for the celebration.

- “This week in Mormon Land: Gay marriage gaining LDS converts, websites blocked at church, hotline offers help for bishops, and an eco-plea goes out for the planet” This headline is terribly poor. Gay marriage is not gaining LDS converts; what is being reported is a poll showing younger Mormons are more accepting of gay marriage (which is sad because they shouldn’t be). The headline is deceiving. Also, bishops have long had a hotline to call for help for members, that is neither new nor news. So why discuss these things?—because they are stirring up controversy while disguising it as “watchdog[ing].”

- “A woman was shocked to see her name in a Mormon church-compiled dossier — which she says was designed to discredit her birth mother” Some woman was shocked?—how shocking! Except this woman knew nothing of the alleged news story, had no informed opinion to give on the story, and could contribute nothing but surprise/shock to see her name in an investigation into the embarrassing and deceptive background of a birth mother she doesn’t know. This news isn’t even soft; it’s liquid. Cannot a religion reporter do better than digging up this kind of insubstantial nothing? Do we really need her to make up news?

- “While applauding latest changes, Mormons concede they are no cure-all. Some even ask: Why have these ‘worthiness’ interviews?” Here we have Peggy’s famous unnamed “Mormons” saying something, that from the headline sounds like all of them are saying it, but that we really learn only liberal/progressive/dissident Mormons are saying it. And these are the worst Mormons to talk to because they are far fewer in number than good faithful Mormons, and because they don’t understand church doctrine. Out of 16 million Mormons Peggy can’t find any that know doctrine and don’t question church policy and procedure?

- “Every Mormon ward will change with Nelson’s monumental priesthood reorganization” Isn’t there something such as something being so obvious that it loses its appeal? Is this not taken for granted? How is this news except to the Sunbeams or Star As? Or maybe the Nursery? Maybe Peggy thinks her opinions of what the changes might be are news? This is the height of egotism and throwing something out there and calling it news.

- “Some Mormons say their church needs a culture change, after watching the sex abuse scandal at the Missionary Training Center unfold” Let us remember that we are again hearing about “some Mormons” which in Peggy’s parlance means “semi-dissident feminist LGBT activist Mormons.” Who cares what these activists think! I prefer my church culture to be influenced by priesthood keys, prophetic authority, the gifts of the Spirit, the gift of the Holy Ghost, true doctrine, and service to others; let’s keep the activist’s opinions out and follow the prophet.

- “Does tithing requirement for entry into LDS temples amount to Mormons buying their way into heaven?” This provocative headline is meant to stir controversy, and is a lame attempt to, using Rolly’s wording, throw some idea out and pretend it’s a story. Where’s the news (beef)? How typical of Stack.

- “Mormon church has taken ‘baby steps’ toward greater gender equity, but LDS feminists say it’s time to lengthen that stride” Again, who cares what a few allegedly LDS feminists think? Most of these quoted feminists quickly betray their lack of belief in their church’s doctrine and their promotion of their own personal agendas. Another case of throwing an idea out and pretending it’s a story for manipulative purposes. Rolly had this one right; while working in the same newsroom, could he not help Peggy see what she was doing? Could not Rolly have given her a lecture on Journalism 101?

- “Mormons need not shy away from evolution, says BYU biologist” Wrong; this headline is meant to stir up controversy. The BYU biologist’s opinions do not reflect those of the church as enumerated by the First Presidency. This BYU biologist needs to keep his opinions to himself instead of misrepresenting the church he is supposedly a member of.

            Enough review of Peggy’s fake, manufactured opinion pieces masquerading as news. Enough of throwing out (bad) ideas and calling them news. Not everything Stack writes about is as egregious as these examples; sometimes she is actually able to stay mostly on topic for a hard news story without throwing in her own manipulations or opinions, but I find that rare. Her modus operandi is exactly as Rolly explained above. And the tragic thing is that with all the recent staff cuts, where good reporters lost their jobs, Peggy remained to write more fake news. She can continue to throw out her own feminist and LGBT personal agenda and call it news. Just as Rolly said, she is manipulating readers to meet her own political agenda. He really had her peggyed, pun intended.

            But perhaps the biggest irony of all was to see a story in the Tribune that called out an anti-Mormon’s fake news story, while they wrote their own phony news stories. Amazing how things sometimes work in the manipulation business.

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