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Bsix

Zapping Spirituality Right Out Of The Story.

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You may be familar with Stephanie Nielson, the Mormon Mommy Blogger who suffered terrible burns on over 80% of her body.

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Her blog can be found here: NieNie Dialogs

Stephanie's story is inspiring. A key part of her story is the central role her LDS beliefs and religion played in her recovery and her survival spirit.

Her membership in the Church is featured on her blog. She has been featured in a Church-produced video:

Recently, this wife, mother, and inspiring survior was featured on ABC's 20/20.

The ABC story is wonderful. However, I do note that the story completely leaves out any spiritual dimension to Stephanie's story. The writers even used secular wedding vows to describe her wedding. There is no mention of her membership in the Church, the role of faith in her journey, the role of the spirit in her self concept...religion in any form has been scrubbed from her story.

I realize that the secular media isn't obligated to include religion in their story. It's a great story even without the religious part of the experience. The media isn't in the business of promoting religion...nor should they be.

However, I do find it interesting...and telling...that news outlets such as ABC seem to feel the need to tell a story without such an important aspect.

We are reaching a point in the secularization of our society and culture where it seems that religion is not relevant or worthy of mention.

It seems that the only time religion is worthy of media coverage is when religion is associated with controversy or due to some sort of negative outcome.

Report the bad associated with religion...ignore the good. At least, that is what it seems to me.

Six

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Well that just stinks. It's far worse than a religion offering a specially constructed message and historical view of itself. How can any honest journalism leave out the central part of a person's ID? And believing Mormons ARE religious and believing at their very core. Talk about selective presentation!

Thanks for sharing....

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Well that just stinks. It's far worse than a religion offering a specially constructed message and historical view of itself. How can any honest journalism leave out the central part of a person's ID? And believing Mormons ARE religious and believing at their very core. Talk about selective presentation!

Thanks for sharing....

I agree. I do not know the story but if true then it is important to tell everything to get a proper perspective. But let me ask you something. If this same person was say a Scientologist would you be just as willing to accept the role of faith in their journey? Just asking. With religion or spirituality the media tends to run from it because it is to personal a thing. The Christian gets upset when the Muslim viewpoint is given validity and vise versa. I know that is a broad statement and does not apply to all but it is the vocal minority that has everyone scared to admit there is validity in others belief narratives.

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But let me ask you something. If this same person was say a Scientologist would you be just as willing to accept the role of faith in their journey?

Unders such a circumstance, I'd consider that to be a central part of the story. I'd expect that a news report would include that aspect.

Just asking. With religion or spirituality the media tends to run from it because it is to personal a thing. The Christian gets upset when the Muslim viewpoint is given validity and vise versa. I know that is a broad statement and does not apply to all but it is the vocal minority that has everyone scared to admit there is validity in others belief narratives.

My observation was that ANY religious aspect of the story was absent (censored?)...not just her Mormonism. I tend to believe that was deliberate on the part of the producers of this report. As such, I think that an essential part of the story is missing.

Six

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Yes. Any religious attachment that is asserted by the subject of the story ought to be presented as they claim. To excise the religious content is just dishonest reporting....

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Not if one only wishes to report the facts :)

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Not if one only wishes to report the facts :)

You're not a journalism student, are you? In a human interest story, her beliefs, how she feels, her motivations, ARE facts, regardless that they can't be proven.

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Bsix,

ABC News must appeal to a broad audience and their reason for existing is to make money, which in and of itself isn't such a bad thing. They'll have a certain body of people who will change the channel as soon as it starts looking like a pro-religion piece, and once that happens they will be less profitable. Not only am I not surprised that they didn't weave the pro-LDS theme into the story but I'd be surprised if they would do that with any religion. KSL and DesNews are perfectly free to pick up the story and leverage the spirituality and I'm sure it would be a great story.

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ABC News must appeal to a broad audience and their reason for existing is to make money, which in and of itself isn't such a bad thing. They'll have a certain body of people who will change the channel as soon as it starts looking like a pro-religion piece, and once that happens they will be less profitable. Not only am I not surprised that they didn't weave the pro-LDS theme into the story but I'd be surprised if they would do that with any religion.

That pretty much speaks to my point. I find no fault with a secular media outlet packaging a story to appeal to a wide an audience as possible...for the purpose of making money. It is what they do. However, I draw three conclusions:

1. If faith, religion, and this case Mormonism IS a significant part of the story...and they don't report it...they are biasing a news story. It is bad journalism.

2. That being the case, how can we really trust robust, contextual reporting on religious stories or elements of stories?

3. I think it says something about our society that a major news organization deems it better to censor portions of a story that have to do with religion and spirituality. One does wonder who is leading this secularization trend...the public...or the media?

Six

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That pretty much speaks to my point. I find no fault with a secular media outlet packaging a story to appeal to a wide an audience as possible...for the purpose of making money. It is what they do. However, I draw three conclusions:

1. If faith, religion, and this case Mormonism IS a significant part of the story...and they don't report it...they are biasing a news story. It is bad journalism.

2. That being the case, how can we really trust robust, contextual reporting on religious stories or elements of stories?

3. I think it says something about our society that a major news organization deems it better to censor portions of a story that have to do with religion and spirituality. One does wonder who is leading this secularization trend...the public...or the media?

Six

Have you thought about emailing ABC, letting them know how you feel that they snubbed us LDS folk by not communicating how Stephanie Nielson's Mormon faith is a major component in how she copes with such a terrible trajedy, and ask them if they'll run another story on her but this time allow for some openness about her spirituality? Just a thought. Have a good one.

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ABC News must appeal to a broad audience and their reason for existing is to make money, which in and of itself isn't such a bad thing. They'll have a certain body of people who will change the channel as soon as it starts looking like a pro-religion piece, and once that happens they will be less profitable. Not only am I not surprised that they didn't weave the pro-LDS theme into the story but I'd be surprised if they would do that with any religion.

There was a recent story about a man who was convicted of killing his wife. (I believe it was 20/20.) Their Mormonism was a central feature of the story, their temple marriage, her journal entries about her spiritual experiences, pictures of the temple.

So, so if murder is involved, church membership plays a prominent role in the story.

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