Viewers of general conference over the Church satellite system might have become aware of an innovative, but hitherto unheralded, feature. "The World Report," a half-hour digest of news and information about the Church, has been shown between conference sessions since April 2000.
Produced by the Public Affairs Department of the Church, the report draws upon "video news releases" that are produced by the department for distribution to television news outlets, said Michael Purdy, who oversees its production. It covers events that have taken place during the previous six months since the last general conference.
The report last April for example, contained scenes and information about the Church's new "Provident Living" Web site, Walter Cronkite's appearance at the Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert, and the involvement of Church members in the aftermath of the Space Shuttle disaster. The one for the upcoming conference in October will include a report of temple dedications in Redlands, Calif., and Brisbane, Australia, the Tabernacle Choir tour of the northeastern United States, and humanitarian aid to Iraq and Ethiopia.
Motion picture documentaries of news in the Church produced by the Church are not new. Bruce Olsen, director of Public Affairs for the Church, said that beginning in 1959, the Church began producing periodic filmed highlights of current events. That lasted until the 1970s, and became the "Church in Action."
The intent of these earlier efforts, however, was largely archival; that is, preserving motion pictures for future research purposes.
"In April 2000, with the Olympics here in Salt Lake, we thought it was too bad not to have something that told more about what the Church was doing in the world," Brother Olsen said.
It was Brother Purdy's idea to get more double mileage out of the video news releases by incorporating them into the report. As they have already been produced for television, they have a professional polish. Combine that with video graphics and other techniques, and it makes for an impressive product.
Shown on KBYU-TV Channel 11 and the cable channel BYU-TV in addition to the satellite system, "The World Report" is becoming more and more accessible and, according to Brother Purdy and Brother Olsen, better and better. In April 2003, it went out with translation into 27 languages; this October, it will be in 43 languages.
The work is done by regular general conference translators who remain after the morning session to provide live language interpretation of the documentary as it goes out over satellite, Brother Purdy said.
Church units receiving the program at their stake centers can videotape it for use later. And it is already being put on VHS and DVD video formats with an eye toward possibly making copies available in the future for purchase. Brother Olsen said he would like to see it used more widely in local Church auxiliary meetings and firesides.
"Church members may not always comprehend all that the Church is doing around the world every day," he said. "This is a way to show them. It brings a sense of righteous pride."
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