PROVO, Utah (October 26, 2019)—For the second year in a row, student-run publication Latter-day Saint Insights was recognized for its outstanding content at the annual Latter-day Saint Publishing and Media Association (LDSPMA) conference. The digital magazine received an honorable mention in the annual Praiseworthy Awards program, which recognizes high-quality publications for their uplifting work. Latter-day Saint Insights finished first place in the Multimedia category in both 2018 and 2016.
“These students are doing great,” said Suzy Bills, one of the Linguistics professors who leads the course. “It’s so nice for them to see that their work is being recognized.”
The publication is overseen by Bills and Matt Baker, another Linguistics professor, but the content is produced wholly by undergraduate students who are editing and publishing majors or editing minors. Working on the website is one of the culminating projects that editing students can work on to apply the skills and practices they’ve learned in their prior classes. Bills and Baker alternate teaching the 3-credit-hour course—meeting twice weekly—in which students pitch ideas, lead discussions, and write and edit content.
“We treat the course as if it’s a running publication,” explained Baker. “We don’t have class; we have staff meetings. But students do receive credit, and they receive grades. And they get lots and lots of feedback.”
Though it is staffed by BYU students, Latter-day Saint Insights reaches more than just a local audience. In fact, articles have been accessed by readers across the world, and many have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, German, Russian, and Japanese.“I love producing content for the website, knowing that anybody can read it,” remarked Tori Hamilton, an assistant managing editor. “I’ve never been published on such a large platform before.”
Latter-day Saints Insights’ main purpose is “to promote discussions and lead readers to resources that encourage a deeper study of the gospel and that offer answers to difficult questions,” according to the website. The essays and posts on the site cover a wide range of topics, including general gospel principles, scriptural analysis, and Church history.
“It’s an opportunity for me to express myself in a way that I feel comfortable with,” said Hailey Garcia, the publication’s PR director and a copyeditor. “[I like] having the freedom to write about what I want to write about. You get to choose topics from anything you want.” The site was founded in 2015 by Marvin K. Gardner, a former Linguistics professor and, before that, an editor for the Ensign. The original name—Mormon Insights—was changed this year.
“It’s kind of hard to rebrand,” explained Hannah Charlesworth, this semester’s managing editor. “That’s been a fun challenge.”
One thing that makes this student-run publication unique is its constant turnover in staff. Because it is a semester-long course, an entirely different group of students takes over the publication each semester. Consequently, the publication provides students with unique opportunities to develop leadership abilities and marketable skills. “Working [on Latter-day Saint Insights] has given me lots of great experience,” said Charlesworth. “My editing has improved astronomically. It’s helped me as I’ve applied to jobs for after graduation. I’ve had all these experiences that I can draw on.”
Sam Benson (Sociology, ’23)
Latter-day Saint Insights can be read online at latterdaysaintinsights.org, and you can engage with the staff on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest (@latterdaysaintinsights) and Twitter (@LDSaintInsights).