Reporting Tragedies

With more than 13 million members dispersed in 160 countries around the world, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is often asked about the well-being of its members when highly publicized catastrophes happen.

Such was the case following this month’s devastating earthquake in Peru. Responding to specific requests from the Utah news media, the Church reported that seven Latter-day Saints were among the hundreds of Peruvians killed by the quake. It also stated that all full-time missionaries were reported safe.

Journalists in the Intermountain West in the United States, in particular, know that many of their reading or viewing audience are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their parents, siblings and friends want to know immediately the status of Church members and their missionary sons and daughters following a tragic event or catastrophe. At the same time, the Newsroom Web site is directed primarily to the general public and opinion leaders rather than Church members, and highlighting any particular segment of a population when such a devastating event strikes might appear to those who are not Latter-day Saints as insensitive. 

Given these competing issues, it may be helpful to the news media, the public and Church members to note that over 50,000 full-time missionaries are serving in over 160 countries, and so this issue will arise from time to time. The Church cares for all people impacted by tragedies and is quick to respond with aid, but since it is not a government agency it normally reports only on injuries or fatalities of its own members. Many other organizations and agencies are better qualified than the Church to report on general conditions following a catastrophe.

Additional Resources

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.