Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Business of News

I am only writing this because Wendy asked me too, and she is one of my favorite people -- even if she has gotten fat.

Recently the leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley, passed away. For those of you unfamiliar with Utah, his church is headquartered here in Salt Lake, and it's members make up more than 60 percent of the population. So, when he died, it was, and still is, the big story.

I am not Mormon. I have lived in Utah most of my life, and lived with Mormons for all of that time, and never felt a desire to convert. I married a man who grew up Mormon and who's grandparents still ask him when he is going on his mission. And yet, they still love me. For that I credit Gordon B. Hinckley. He was really the first LDS President to say to Mormons "Hey, your non-Mormon neighbors don't have horns." For that I thank him, and respect him.

However, Wendy's question wasn't about how I felt about Hinckley, but rather how I felt about the coverage of his death-- and there has been a lot of it. I would say every station in Utah has dedicated at least six minutes or more of every newscast to Hinckley's death. And I think that's just fine, because it is what our audience wants.

Yes, yes, I know, some of our audience is non-Mormon. Several of them have called in the past few days complaining about the amount of coverage. My answer? Turn off your television. It's all a ratings game, and if people stop watching, we'll make changes. But the ratings have not suggested we should.

As for the national media I think the ratings game comes to light again. According to the brain of the Internet, Wikipedia, there are currently 13 million members of the LDS Church worldwide. That is in a population of more than 6 billion. There are more than three hundred million in the United States. That makes Mormons a pretty small part of the potential viewing audience. So, of course the big networks weren't going to go all out in covering President Hinckley's death. However, I was still surprised that it didn't even get a mention. The only time I actually heard it reported was in President Bush's State of the Union speech. And at that time my ears were bleeding -- so it was muffled.

There will be more coverage this week as a new church President is appointed, and I will be happy to report it. And when the Pope comes to visit the U.S. later this month and all the national media is doing back flips I'll be sure to carve out at least thirty seconds of air time. I doubt anyone will complain.


Dave from Graphics said...

I'm a Mormon and I never thought you had horns... now I was a little surprised one day when you unhinged your jaw and swallowed a live chicken whole, but I'm over that now :-)

Wendy King said...

Yes, it was at least worth a MENTION. Validation at last!! Thank you.

Fat, Hornless, Mama-to-be