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Dave,
Meridian's strength is also its weakness. They'll publish almost anything (as long as it's not anti), so you get some interesting stuff, and some dreadful stuff. And their editorialising can be a trifle, er, right-wing. But they're kind enough to let me write my junk.

I think the two magazines have very different missions. The Ensign is the official magazine of the church, so I think it must take itself seriously. Meridian isn't owned by the church and has more freedom to publish what it wants, or think its readers will want.

the ensign can be quite boring, but a lot of the articles in meridian make me want to barf. give me a dialogue or sunstone anyday over those two. especially stuff like the drivel from geoff biddulph, like his recent article on the hand of god guiding people to vote republican in the recent election (http://www.ldsmag.com/articles/041104political.html).

Mike D, it sounds like you're not really in Meridian's target demographic. I don't think you can compare Meridian with Sunstone or Dialogue. Meridian is a popular online magazine aimed at wide distribution backed by advertising. Sunstone and Dialogue aim at a fairly restricted audience and depend on subscription revenue. I'm no apologist for Meridian and I do poke fun at it from time to time, but you have to recognize there is a defined category here, "religious magazine aimed at the popular LDS market," in which there are only three competitors: Meridian, the Church News, and the Ensign. IMHO, Meridian does the best job of the three. I think the Ensign is another victim of correlation.

The Ensign has been good. There was a period in the late 80's to early 90's when I thought it was excellent. However a lot of its strengths have been taken over by the church's website. (i.e. the FP message, access to non-GC talks, etc.)

Now there's an interesting point, Clark--how much has LDS.org either displaced some prior features of the Ensign, like making Conference talks available, and how much has it expanded what is available to members, such as providing archived and searchable Conference talks from prior years and of course the nifty and comprehensive search function for LDS scriptures. Sounds like a great blog topic . . .

i realize that i'm not in their target demographic, and actually sometimes i enjoy a sappy faith-promoting story in meridian, the same way that i sometimes like to read the letters to the editor in the daily universe. but i would agree that correlation has taken the luster off of a lot of things in the church, the ensign being one of them.

I think Meridian takes itself very, very seriously--they really seem to think they're going to save the world, or at least the FAMILY, from the apocalyptic forces of the liberals in the last days. They do sometimes publish some interesting stuff, but they also have some really wacky stuff masquerading as scholarship--their astronomer and that guy whose always spouting off about the evils of relativism leap to mind. Also, I think they're completely disingenuous in their editorializing--they disguise way, way too much commentary as news reporting.

The fluffy stuff is pleasant and entertaining enough, I suppose.

Hey y'all. Don't forget LDS Living Magazine. It's like Good Housekeeping, but without the articles on how to be a better lover.

http://www.ldsliving.com/LDSMagazineDetails.asp

And wouldn't those articles be interesting if written from an LDS perspective?

As long as this thread is still puttering along, I'll note one more thing about the Ensign that irritates me. They used to give the credentials of non-GA authors, so for example a couple that writes an article on communication between spouses might be accompanied by the following little blurb at the end: "Joe and Jane Johnson are licensed family therapists who have been in practice for 22 years, working with families in emotional distress. They live in Sandy, Utah."

Then, about four years ago, the magazine stopped giving such "secular" information, and now simply says something like "Joe and Jane Johnson serve on the Activities Committee in the Sandy 74th Ward and have two children and a dog." I think this decision reflects the insecurity GAs feel about members giving deference to those with alternate sources of authority who speak to religious, social, or moral issues. Think of it as the "If you ain't a GA, you ain't shit" mentality. The failure to provide author credentials certainly detracts from the ability of the reader to judge whether the author knows what they're talking about, so the effect of the change is to render the magazine even less useful to its readers. The message seems to be: Only GAs can speak with authority on any issue.

I noticed exactly the same thing, but what you say never crossed my mind. The best thing I saw in the Ensign recently was an article from a GA that used Biblical quotes from the NIV not the KJV. What does this mean? (P.S. I'm thinking of founding the Ditch-The-KJV-Club)

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