Church News

Church News
Type Weekly newspaper
Format Tabloid
Owner(s) Deseret News Publishing Company (Deseret Management Corporation)
Editor Gerry Avant
Founded April 4, 1931[1]
Headquarters 30 E. 100 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
United States [2]
OCLC number 11655569
Website Church News on

The Church News (or LDS Church News) is a weekly tabloid-sized supplement to the Deseret News and the MormonTimes, a Salt Lake City, Utah newspaper owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). It is the only publication by the LDS Church that is entirely devoted to news coverage of the LDS Church.[3]


The Church News is the official newspaper of the LDS Church,[4] publishing the church's "Authorized News."[5] This is not to be confused with the "Mormon Times" branded coverage within the religion section of the Deseret News, which contains unofficial social and cultural LDS news coverage,[6] though both are now distributed together to Church News subscribers.[7] As with the Ensign, the LDS Church encourages its members to subscribe to the Church News, which gives its content an air of official endorsement.

The Church News does not carry advertisements in its pages, although it did in its first three issues and during 1959–60.[8] Despite higher prices than in other Deseret News sections, Church News ad space didn't make enough money, and it was felt that it detracted from the religious paper's dignity.[9] Instead, the section is financially supported by the rest of the Deseret News operations,[10] and high volume subscriptions.[11]


A mainstay of the Church News is its continuing features that make up most of the paper.[10] These include "This Week in Church History," "Message of Inspiration," "Living By the Scriptures," "A Thought From the Scriptures," and "Viewpoints."[12] It also regularly carries announcements, such as upcoming events in "Calendar of Events," 70th wedding anniversaries in "Milestones of Togetherness," birthdays over 100 in "Centenarians," and deaths of prominent church members in "Obituaries." Announcements are posted of all new stake, mission, and temple presidents when they occur.

The Church News publishes semiannual issues on the LDS Church's general conferences, but only prints brief reports of the sermons and announcements,[13] unlike the Ensign and Conference Report, other church publications which circulate later and print full transcripts.[14]

Tone and coverage

The Church News' purpose has been stated to "build testimonies and uplift its readers." In doing this it focuses on inspirational and motivational stories in a graphics-heavy format.[15] The paper isn't intended to cover controversial issues, but emphasizes success stories and reinforces the church message.[16] Though it experimented with some "hard news" in the early 1970s,[17] the paper has always stayed with its successful, uplifting formula and remained reverential toward church leaders.[16] Some have nicknamed the paper "Mormon Pravda,"[18] because of its dedication to promoting faith, which others see as producing soft "human interest" stories.[19]

Since the paper and the church are both based in Salt Lake City, much Church News coverage over the years has been Utah-centric, earning it the nickname "This Week in Utah" by some Australian readers.[20] Its global focus has expanded as the paper attempts to showcase the church's international activities.[21][22]


Since the Deseret News was founded in 1850, it reported news of the LDS Church in its regular issues. Minutes of ward meetings were covered and sermons were often carried on the front page. In the 1890s, efforts to emphasize secular news pushed church coverage to dedicated sections on inside pages.[23] As early as the mid-1850s[24] and 1860s[23] consideration was given to creating a separate church newspaper. In 1931, a new Saturday tabloid called the Church Section was released, which primarily reported leaders' sermons, church events, and notices about new bishoprics and stake presidencies. It was retitled as the Weekly Church Edition in 1942, and Church News in 1943, though the name remained in flux for the next few years. It was also in 1943 that circulation as an independent publication from the Deseret News began. In 1945, when Liahona The Elders' Journal (an LDS publication based in Independence, Missouri aimed at members and missionaries in the eastern and central United States) ended publication, it recommended that its subscribers began taking the Church News.

Starting in 1981, the Church News was retitled LDS Church News: News of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,[25] but today it is usually referred to as Church News or LDS Church News.


In 1943, the paper became available through a special Saturday-only Deseret News subscription, which allowed the paper to eventually surpass the regular Deseret News circulation by 12,000.[26] In 1948, the Church News was distributed as a separate publication by mail, to areas Deseret News circulation didn't cover,[22] a practice that still continues. This allowed Church News circulation to increase to almost 250,000 in 1981, compared to the Deseret News at about 70,000.[27] The paper was also distributed in an LDS serviceman's edition from 1944–48 and by telegram from 1952–53[28] For much of its history the Church News was available throughout the United States without a subscription to the Deseret News, except for residents of Utah who were required to subscribe to the Deseret News in order to receive the Church News. In 2014 the subscription model changed, allowing Utahns to subscribe to the less expensive weekly Deseret News National Edition and receive the Church News as an insert.[29][30]

Features and format

Starting in 1948, large photos were used for each issue's cover.[31] Gradually, more graphics and colors were used and regular features were added, such as editorials, "Gems of Thought," "The Missionary's Diary," "I Want to Know," and short historical or scriptural vignettes.[10]

The editorials became one of the most noticeable features of the Church News. Longtime Deseret News editor and LDS Church apostle Mark E. Petersen wrote for the Church News since its 1931 beginning,[32] and in 1943 started his own weekly editorial.[33] In 1948, these moved to the back page,[31] where they remained until Petersen died in 1984 and they were replaced by staff-written "Viewpoints." Because of his church authority and the paper's religious intent, it was unclear whether these editorials constituted official church positions.[31] Petersen wrote on a variety of topics, including secular and controversial subjects like politics.[34] In the 1970s, his editorials came out against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA),[35] which ended up establishing the LDS Church's position and changing modest LDS support for the amendment into firm opposition.[36]

When former chief photographer of the Deseret News J M. Heslop became Editor of the Church News in 1969,[37] he changed its format from dense text and statistics into a strongly visual showcase of his photography with short faith-promoting stories.[17] During Heslop's editorship, the Church News used mail distribution to greatly expand circulation to over 200,000, vastly surpassing the 70,000 readers of its parent, the Deseret News.[17]

In the early 1970s, the Church News began carrying historical sketches written by members of the LDS Church Historical Department. Around 1977, following high-profile criticisms of Historical Department work, the paper replaced these with staff-written "Vignettes of Faith" and avoided reviews of new major historical publications.[17]


In 1995, the Church News went online,[38] with subscription-only access,[39] with archives available back to 1988. In 2008 the website was redesigned and free access was then granted to non-subscribers.

In 2014, the Church News website,, was moved to, to integrate with the technology improvements being made on the Deseret News website. At the time, an archives site was created at[40]


No. Name Start End Notes
James R. Kennard (acting) 1931 1931 Kennard was the Deseret News Saturday feature editor before the Church News had a full-time editor.[41]
1 Henry A. Smith 1931 1968 Smith was the Deseret News' church editor before being appointed over the Church News in September.[41] He served in this position for over 30 years, then was called to be the press secretary to the First Presidency.[42]
John R. Talmage, Conrad B. Harrison (acting) 1939 1940 Talmage and Harrison were editors while Smith temporarily served as wire editor for the Deseret News.[43]
Edwin O. Haroldsen, S. Perry Lee, Merwin G. Fairbanks (acting) 1956 1959 These men filled in for Smith while he was president of the Central Atlantic States Mission.[42]
2 Jack E. Jarrard 1968 1969 Jarrard served for about a year before becoming a field correspondent.[44]
3 J Malan Heslop 1969[37] 1976 Heslop had been Deseret News chief photographer and was charged with improving Church News visual design.[44]
4 Dell Van Orden 1976 1999 Van Orden had been Church News assistant editor, and carried on Heslop's efforts when Heslop became Deseret News managing editor.[45]
5 Gerry Avant 1999 current[46] Avant, associate editor since 1988, became the Church News' first female editor when Van Orden retired.[3]

Church Almanac

Continuing in the tradition of Mormon almanacs from the mid-nineteenth century, the Deseret News published the Deseret News Church Almanac (or just Church Almanac), composed of LDS Church facts and statistics edited and prepared by the staff of the Church News. The almanac started in 1974 as an annual publication, then became biennial in 1984, then annual again from 2002 to 2013.[47][48]

With access to records and the LDS Church Historical Department,[47] the almanac presented some material that was not available in other publications.[49] It contained history and membership statistics of geographical areas for the year ending before the previous year[50] (e.g., the 2009 almanac included data up to the year-end 2007).[51] It also had brief biographies of all who had been leaders of the larger church and a summary of church news from the previous year.[52] Each annual edition included features on a specific historical subject or period, often related to a church current event, such as the rebuilding of the Nauvoo Temple, the Salt Lake City Olympics,[53] Joseph Smith's bicentennial birthday, the Mountain Meadows massacre sesquicentennial,[50] or Gordon B. Hinckley's death.[51]

In 2009, the almanac consolidated and modified most sections to improve design and dramatically reduce size. The new format included many more visuals, as well as expanded biographies of First Presidency members. State, province, and country history was supplemented with additional church area information.[51] This local information returned in later editions.[54]

The Deseret News has not published the almanac since the 2013 edition. With no further editions planned, the almanac has ostensibly been discontinued, though the Deseret News has not formally commented on the matter.[48]


  1. Roberts 1983, pp. 4–5
  2. "Contact Us". Retrieved 2010-03-10.
  3. 1 2 Lloyd, R. Scott (April 1, 2006). "Telling the story: Church News celebrates 75 years of publication". Church News. Salt Lake City: Deseret News. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  4. (Roberts 1983, p. 7)
  5. The Church News web site states it is the "Authorized News Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," as found at "LDS Church News". Deseret News Publishing Company. Retrieved 2009-01-29.
  6. "Ask the editor: Why 'Mormon' Times?". Deseret News. Salt Lake City. January 24, 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  7. Schneider, David (January 11, 2009). "Mormon Times edition offered to Church News subscribers". Mormon Times. Salt Lake City: Deseret News. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  8. (Roberts 1983, p. 42)
  9. (Roberts 1983, p. 44)
  10. 1 2 3 Lloyd, R. Scott (April 6, 1991). "Church News has filled 'unique role' for 60 years". Church News. Deseret News. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  11. (Roberts 1983, p. 43)
  12. "Features". Church News. Deseret News. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  13. Armstrong, Richard M. (Fall 1997). "Researching Mormonism: General Conference as Artifactual Gold Mine". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 30 (3): 165. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  14. (Roberts 1983, p. 63)
  15. (Swenson 1977, p. 53)
  16. 1 2 Hollstein, Milton (Spring 1977). "The Church as Media Proprietor". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 10 (3): 22. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  17. 1 2 3 4 (Swenson 1977, p. 54)
  18. Nadig, Peter C. (Spring–Summer 2001). "Vielen Dank". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 34 (1, 2): 34. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  19. Smith, Paul H. (September 1992). "Good-News News" (PDF). Sunstone. 16 (3): 5. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  20. Newton, Marjorie (Fall 1991). "Almost Like Us: The American Socialization of Australian Converts". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 24 (3): 15. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  21. (Roberts 1983, p. 34)
  22. 1 2 (Roberts 1983, p. 37)
  23. 1 2 Van Leer, Twila; Wadley, Carma (1999). Woodward, Don C., ed. Through Our Eyes: 150 Years of History as Seen Through the Eyes of the Writers and Editors of the Deseret News. Salt Lake City: Deseret News. p. 200. ISBN 1-57345-660-8.
  24. (Roberts 1983, p. 3)
  25. Brigham Young University (BYU) library catalog for Church News and LDS Church News
  26. (Roberts 1983, p. 36)
  27. (Roberts 1983, p. 38)
  28. BYU library catalog for Church Section
  29. McCord, Keith (29 January 2014). "Deseret News National Edition now available in Utah". KSL TV. Salt Lake City. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  30. Avent, Gerry (4 February 2014). "Subscribe to Get Church News, Deseret News National Edition". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  31. 1 2 3 (Roberts 1983, p. 60)
  32. "This week in Church history". Church News. Salt Lake City: Deseret News. January 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  33. (Roberts 1983, p. 58)
  34. Prince, Gregory A. (Summer 2004). "The Red Peril, the Candy Maker, and the Apostle: David O. McKay's Confrontation with Communism". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 37 (2): 83. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  35. Quinn, D. Michael (Fall 1994). "The LDS Church's Campaign Against the Equal Rights Amendment". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 20 (2): 106–7. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
  36. Kris, Deborah Farmer (Spring 2008). "A Must-Read on Gender Politics: Martha Sonntag Bradley, Pedestals, Podiums: Utah Women, Religious Authority, and Equal Rights". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 41 (1): 137. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  37. 1 2 Hart, John L. (October 23, 1999). "Glimpses of prophets through the window of the Church News". Church News. Salt Lake City: Deseret News. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  38. Holyoak, Trevor (December 27, 1995). "LDS Church News". BESTWEB. Ege University. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  39. Schindler, Marc A. (June 1998). "Book Notes" (PDF). Sunstone. 21 (2): 68. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  40. has moved to, Burke Olsen, Deseret News Reporter in article on 2 April 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  41. 1 2 (Roberts 1983, p. 47)
  42. 1 2 (Roberts 1983, p. 53)
  43. (Roberts 1983, p. 50)
  44. 1 2 (Roberts 1983, p. 54)
  45. (Roberts 1983, p. 55)
  46. "Contact Us". Church News. Deseret News. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  47. 1 2 Van Orden, Dell (1992). "Almanacs". Encyclopedia of Mormonism. 1. Macmillan Publishers. Retrieved 2009-01-26.
  48. 1 2 Peggy Fletcher Stack (March 24, 2014). "New almanac offers look at the world of Mormon membership". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
  49. "Privy to details: The 2009 Church Almanac features expanded color photos and information". Church News. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News. November 29, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-26.
  50. 1 2 "2008 Deseret News Church Almanac". Deseret Book. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
  51. 1 2 3 "2009 Deseret News Church Almanac". Deseret Book. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
  52. "LDS Church Almanac 2004". Deseret Book. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
  53. "2003 Church Almanac Released". Church in the News. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. March 3, 2003. Archived from the original on October 21, 2013. Retrieved 2009-01-26.
  54. Rachel Brutsch (April 18, 2012). "LDS Church Almanac reflects growth, momentum". Mormon Times. Deseret News. Retrieved 2016-03-08.


Further reading

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 10/10/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.