Helen Radkey and Salt Lake Tribune strike again

It happened again this week. Call it the Helen Radkey Game. Radkey, a vocal critic of the LDS Church's proxy baptism, finds the infamous or famous in the vast genealogical database of the church.

She finds a news peg associated with a current event or famous person and then calls a Tribune reporter who lets Radkey rattle on. The reporter gets a quote from the LDS Church (which the reporter must have memorized by now) and then the Trib releases a weak, speculative story. Even the headline in the most recent story had a question mark. Then it makes news around the world and no one really questions the holes in the reporting; it's just those crazy Mormons again.

The Tribune's coverage is out of proportion and incomplete. Instead of good explanatory journalism, for some Mormons (including me) it feels like another Tribune-led attack on their faith, especially when it keeps coming from one critic. The Tribune gives Radkey an unchecked megaphone politicians only dream of. Does this kind of reporting lead to any greater dialogue or understanding for readers? No. It's simply "gotcha" journalism.

How does the reporting of Helen Radkey square with any basic college journalism textbook? First, journalism courses teach reporters they ought to have more than one source. Except to get a boilerplate response from the LDS Church, the Tribune has granted a lot of clout to Radkey as a single source on stories related to her research. In addition, the ethics codes of national journalism groups say reporters ought to question sources' motives.

Read the rest of this story at deseretnews.com
Comments and feedback can be sent to feedback@ldsliving.com