Any journalist knows the difficulty of covering a story from a news desk without being on the scene. The confining effect of a cubicle and keyboard can cause you to miss important details that would put a human face on the facts and add another layer of richness to your writing.
In his Washington Post “On Faith” forum piece this week, Church Public Affairs managing director Michael R. Otterson invites those reporting on the Church to visit a “ward” — the “hub of Mormons’ religious life” — during a Sunday worship service (the public, including journalists, is always invited).
“Writing or reporting about Mormons from a desk and a keyboard without a field trip to a Mormon ward is like covering Congress from Kalamazoo,” Otterson writes. “You have to be there. You have to feel the pulse. You have to understand the perspectives, the nuances, the motivation deeply rooted in belief. Then you’ll be better able to explain what makes Mormons tick so enthusiastically.”
Otterson also allays the fears of those who worry they will have to somehow participate in the worship service.
“You won’t have to do anything — no kneeling, no recitations, no collection plates,” he says. “But feel free to talk to the members. Ask them about the responsibilities they hold. Talk to the teenagers. Attend the classes after the main worship service.”
You can find the Mormon ward nearest you (we have more than 28,000 across the globe) at mormon.org/worship.
Read Otterson’s entire piece at “On Faith.”
Also read "What to Expect at Church Services" on MormonNewsroom.org