In 2022, Deseret News writers and contributors produced opinion and perspective articles on topics that ranged from the important politics of our day to Utah’s dirty sodas.
Readers were enthralled by our feature editor’s experience getting booted from Alpha Con and were interested in what a Vanderbilt political scientist and also what a leader of the NAACP had to say about Mitt Romney. Additionally, readers liked to consume articles about family, marriage, relationships and Latter-day Saint issues.
This year is coming to end, but before it does, here is our list of highlighted opinions and perspectives, based on editor selections and readership data.
In February, when Salt Lake City hosted Alpha Con, a convention pitched at self-described “alpha” men and women seeking to better their lives and financial prospects, Meg Walter signed up and attended to hear what the presenters had to say. She live-tweeted the event, and later wrote, “But, all of the sudden, after a few tweets and social shares, the alphas had me expelled from their conference. I had unwittingly become too dominant in their arena, and they were not about to let me back in.”
Senior editorial columnist Jay Evensen wrote about the impact of removing bills from the legislative agenda due to conspiracy theories about the bills. Pointing to a digital license bill, he said, “Having a rational discussion about the ethics of technology would be a good thing. Letting people kill legislation because they are emphatic about their version of the truth is, decidedly, not.”
When the FX series “Under the Banner of Heaven” premiered in April, Deseret National executive editor Hal Boyd wrote, “There’s an actual war in Ukraine right now. Latter-day Saints are sending humanitarian aid. Meanwhile the self-styled auteurs behind ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ are doing media junkets.” The piece characterized the show as “yet one more mile marker in a decadeslong trail of angst.” Director Dustin Lance Black addressed the article during the production’s premiere in Salt Lake City, insisting he was not angry but felt “a different emotion than anger.”
The Deseret News’ Jennifer Graham wrote an opinion piece about how there were “two lame jokes” about conservatives at the Oscars. She said that instead of Hollywood fomenting division, they should have stuck to what is unifying: “All the hosts had to do was eliminate two lame jokes, perhaps replace them with a unity-building statement about how Americans had come together over Ukraine.”
Readers may remember the famous picture of Olivia Rodrigo sipping on a dirty soda from Swig. Walter chronicled the Utah phenomenon of having a soda shop on every corner. “I guess we were always poised to be innovators in the soda space, given that many of us adhere to a religious code for food and drink that prohibits coffee,” she wrote. “Instead, we imbibe our caffeine cold, on the rocks and in 44-ounce styrofoam cups.”
Derwin Gray, a pastor and former Brigham Young University football player, wrote about how confronting racism is a responsibility of all Christians. He described how the collective response of Christians to racism and prejudice should be confronting it with “love, grace and truth.” He referenced a quote from his book, “Racial reconciliation in Christ is not peripheral to the gospel, an optional ‘nice to have’ or a fad issue, but central to Christ’s mission and God’s plan.”
When J.K. Rowling tweeted that no one saw the golden plates (and later, issued a correction of sorts), Deseret News writer Hanna Seariac listed several of the historical accounts of those who said they saw the golden plates, from which Joseph Smith said he translated the Book of Mormon. She wrote, “To paraphrase renowned historian Richard Bushman, those around Joseph Smith — and Joseph Smith himself — acted as if he had the plates. And material evidence seems to indicate that he did.”
After The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement in support of collaborative efforts on legislation around religious freedom and LGBTQ+ rights, Boyd wrote, “Finally, the Respect for Marriage Act points the way out of our perpetual LGBTQ-religious culture wars. Efforts to advance LGBTQ rights must be coupled with enhanced religious rights. Both sides must win in some regards.”
After the John Whitmer Historical Association journal published an article claiming that a Joseph Smith daguerreotype (an early term for a type of photograph) was located, Deseret News reporter Tad Walch wrote that some of the headlines about it didn’t show the ongoing questions about the authenticity of the daguerreotype. Walch wrote, “It is really difficult to balance accuracy and capturing interest. None of us get it right every time. But the latest big story about Latter-day Saint history certainly highlighted the real need to do it as well as possible.”
When singer Billie Eilish stated that she had started watching pornography at age 11, Deseret National contributor Naomi Schaefer Riley led a conversation about how common it was to view pornography at that age. She also wrote that it would be damaging to both an individual person and any potential romantic relationship that person may have.
Canadian freelance journalist Ari Blaff wrote an opinion piece in February about the Canadian trucker protests. He argued that Americans don’t know much about Canada and that some of the comparisons being made between Canada and America were unwarranted.
Video editor Skyler Sorensen wrote a guest opinion piece about why he chose to marry a woman as a gay man. He spoke about how the decision came from his faith and how he navigates criticism he receives.
Contributor Lynn Chapman and guest writer Jennifer Roach wrote an opinion piece about why they believe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has effective systems in place to combat abuse.
Rev. Theresa Dear, board member of the NAACP and Deseret News contributor, wrote an open letter to Mitt Romney after he voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Dear thanked Romney for his vote and for character in politics. She said, “What I admire about you, Sen. Romney, is that you exercise integrity, faith and courage. You have not been afraid to go it alone, be an outlier or an anomaly, while standing by your convictions.”
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe wrote an opinion article for the Deseret News in the aftermath of the BYU-Duke volleyball controversy. He wrote that BYU has zero tolerance for racism and that he wants the community to be united in rooting out racism and loving each other.
Vanderbilt political scientist Larry Bartels wrote about how Romney had not made an endorsement in the election between Sen. Mike Lee and Evan McMullin. Bartels said that Romney had shown courage in the past, and he should consider endorsing a candidate.
When the news broke that a New York judge argued that including polyamory in the legal definition of marriage was legally fair, Alan Hawkins, Daniel Frost and Megan Johnson wrote an opinion article arguing for monogamy. They said that monogamy offers benefits to society that polyamory doesn’t.
After President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Elder Clark Gilbert, commissioner of the church’s educational system, gave a devotional at BYU Salt Lake Center, Boyd wrote an opinion piece about navigating “polarizing tensions” as a Christian today. He wrote, “There is a kind of safety in conforming to the political extremes. The crowds seem larger and the voices louder. But sometimes the gospel requires standing somewhat alone.”
When President Joe Biden announced his student loan forgiveness program, Evensen said that forgiving student loans doesn’t address the real problem. He wrote about some potential solutions like making college tuition more competitive and said, “The problem with these ideas is that they take real legislative effort. They don’t make for short, bumper-sticker campaign statements as Americans head into the fall campaign season. They take hard work and courage.”
A&E documentary “Playboy” presented a dark picture of Hugh Hefner’s treatment of women, according to Graham, who wrote, “Society might have been able to plead ignorance about Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein and others whose behavior was hidden behind their wealth or celebrity, but the essence of Hef was all there in his magazine and the interviews he gave, and the ones that he published.”
Kevin Costner said that he would like to make more movies in Utah, but the taxpayer rebates in Utah were lower than other states such as Montana. Evensen addressed this and said that there’s doubt on whether or not Hollywood productions positively impact the local economy. “High School Musical” brought tourism and other productions have done the same, he said, “but not every production yields those results, and as the nationwide bidding for movies expands, the returns on taxpayers’ investment naturally get thinner.”