Dickson: Where faith and journalism meet
Oct 1, 2023, 7:50 AM | Updated: Oct 2, 2023, 12:27 pm
(Courtesy: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)
This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.
SALT LAKE CITY — On a special edition of A Woman’s View, I sat down with the Executive Editor of Church News Sarah Jane Weaver and Church News reporter Mary Richards. I wanted to understand how their careers in journalism intersected with their faith.
Weaver explained that whenever she writes a difficult article, she prays over it first. “I call on heavenly help to say the things I want to say and to communicate them in a way that other people will be able to understand.”
“I believe that God cares about all his children in any workplace,” Richards added. “Prayer has always been a part of my life. When I was working at KSL NewsRadio, I would often have a prayer in my heart. ‘Help me throughout this day. Please help me in my assignments, and help my coworkers because this is a hard story.'”
At Church News, they open their staff meetings with prayer. “We invite that spirit to bless all of us in our work,” Richards said. “And there’s a power in praying out loud for your coworkers and their families.”
Covering President Nelson
“Several years ago, I was covering the ministry of Russell M. Nelson, ” Weaver said, “and we were on a tour through the Pacific. There was a group of us on the media team who were unpacking our equipment in the green room before a devotional. President Nelson came in the room and called everyone by name. Then he said something that still awes me to this day.
“He said, ‘This morning I prayed for each of you by name.’ There is so much power in offering a prayer on behalf of someone else.”
Richards recalled, “I’ve talked about listening with spiritual ears and news ears. So, as our staff covers General Conference (for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and we’re writing summaries of all the talks, we are listening and summarizing and being journalists.
“But also we need to step back and ask personally, ‘What is the message I’m getting?'”
Work as a calling
I asked both Weaver and Richards if they see their work at Church News as a calling (or, religious vocation.) Weaver answered, “I think all of us should feel each day that our work is a calling. Whether you work inside your home or outside your home, inside your community or across the globe, we should all figure out our role.”
She said she feels grateful to be able to talk about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I did not start my career with the hope to do that,” she said. “I started my career and entered journalism school with the hope of talking about politics, and I’m still a political junkie. I love politics. I love sports. And somehow I have spent almost three decades now writing about faith.
“It’s because there was a point in my life when I had the opportunity to come to Church News, and I knew this is what Heavenly Father wanted me to do. Once you have that witness, it’s very hard to do anything else.”
Richards echoed that sentiment. “I’ve always tried to know in my life, to try and understand where I should be. That’s because I made a covenant with God to use my time and talents to serve him.”