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The LDS Church is surveying its members about their readership of key websites and Mormon writers, a move that reflects the faith's growing interest in managing its public image as two Mormon candidates make headlines pursuing the White House.

Church officials confirmed this week that the survey on a range of social, political and doctrinal matters — including the trustworthiness of specific journalists — is partly intended to gauge how and where Latter-day Saints get their information on LDS-related issues.

"This kind of survey is one way church leaders have to hear from members,'' church spokesman Scott Trotter said in a statement. He declined to say specifically what would be done with the results.

The confidential online poll, sent to at least 1,000 Mormons, asks about access to the weekly television and radio broadcast "Music and the Spoken Word" as well as the frequency and purpose of visits to Mormon-oriented websites such as,,, and the church's own

The survey also seeks members' reasons for using various media outlets and asks if they find seven specific journalists and bloggers "trustworthy, consistent with church positions and teachings, enjoyable, candid and honest [or] thoughtful."

The list of writers includes conservative radio host Glenn Beck; popular LDS bloggers Joanna Brooks, of, and JanaRiess, of Beliefnet;Newsweek and Daily Beast reporter and blogger McKay Coppins; "Mormon Stories" podcast host John Dehlin; Salt Lake Tribune lead religion writer Peggy Fletcher Stack; and LDS Church public affairs managing director Michael Otterson, who also blogs for The Washington Post.

"It does surprise me greatly that I'm a part of it," said Riess, whose Beliefnet blog is called "Flunking Sainthood." "My blog is not one of these mega-blogs. I don't have that huge national platform that some other authors might have."

She and others viewed it as a positive development the church is attuned to member sentiments and focused on a thriving debate about LDS issues online, especially in the Mormon blogosphere, sometimes dubbed the "Bloggernacle."

"It shows me that they care about their consumers, and that they are willing to change,'' said Dehlin, whose weekly podcasts address sensitive LDS topics. "I consider it progress that they are thinking more like a company and less like the Soviet Union."

A national media observer said the survey prompts questions about stewardship of church resources and how results might guide future contacts with news outlets.

"Are they trolling for favorites or people to avoid?'' asked Al Tompkins, a journalism ethics teacher at the Poynter Institute, the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based school for journalists. "It's their right to do both of those, but if I were a member, I would wonder why they are spending resources and energy on it.''

Those interviewed had mixed reactions about whether survey results might affect their personal standing within the faith.

"It's easy to look at a list of journalists compiled by the Mormon church and see a witch hunt, but I doubt it,'' Coppins said. "I didn't personally feel targeted when I saw my name on the list.''