The Deseret News inaugurated its launch of a national website Sunday with a series on the Ten Commandments. The series is “emblematic of the type of coverage you’re likely to find” on the new site, Allison Pond told me in a phone call Friday. It follows CEO Clark Gilbert’s imperative that the news organization be not “the best in our market, but the best in the world” at covering certain topics, including family, faith, culture and money.
Pond is editor of the Deseret News’ national edition and was lead editor on the Ten Commandments series. The goal was to show how they related to everyday life, she said. Mark Kellner looks at how terms like “OMG” relate to the prohibition on taking the Lord’s name in vain; Lane Anderson writes about how social media drives consumerism and covetousness.
“These stories are right in the wheelhouse of our reporters,” Pond said. “They’re already writing stories like this all the time.” The Deseret News rolled out five stories to start, and the rest will come down the mountaintop individually this week. About eight reporters and three editors worked on the series.
“I hope that all of these stories will have a personal resonance and relevance,” Pond said. “It’s not just preaching on some topics.” One commandment she thinks about a lot, for instance, is the one about keeping the Sabbath, especially when you’re always connected via devices. “All of that highlighted to me is that the commandments may be old, but they’re relevant,” she said. “The media just gives us a new canvas for testing that out.”
The new site will do enterprise features like this from time to time, but it will also do daily journalism as well as aggregated roundups, Pond said. Content from the national team can flow to the Deseret News’ other platforms and associated properties, like KSL.com, which will be showing video essays about the stories. (The Deseret News’ new national site is still “a bit of a beta” and can’t host the videos yet, Pond said.)
The series won’t take the point of view that things are necessarily worse for would-be commandment-keepers these days. “It would be easy to be alarmist,” Pond said. But “it’s not always true.” (Indeed, one professor Kellner quotes says, “People have been swearing for hundreds of years before there was television, radio.”) “Even though secularization is taking its toll,” Pond said, “there are a lot of people who are seeking a relationship with God.”