The landing page of the Deseret News website is rather attractive.---
It's got that whiz-bang modular layout newspapers love. As I recall, it was the first of the Utah dailies to undertake the latest round of site redesigns a couple years back. Of course, I really preferred the older layout -- it seemed simpler and was infinitely navigable. But time marches on, and you can't stop progress, and all that. These days, pretty much all newspaper websites feature the top-navigation/grid-based/tabbed-content format that became popular in late 2008.
Normally, I use Google site search to directly locate D-News articles I'm interested in, so I've never really paid much attention to the home page -- until I was clued in about a delightful little gadget located on the right-hand side of the "Latest updates/Most popular/Most commented" tabbed box.
It's a teaser for Mormon Times, the weekly Deseret News supplement inaugurated under Joe Cannon's editorial reign, featuring "trusted Mormon news and perspectives" which nevertheless do not "go through the [LDS] Church's usual review process for its official publications" that the LDS Church News does. Think of it as a sort of In Utah This Week for Latter-day Saints.
As far as I can tell, the website gadget cleverly ties together two random stories from the Mormon Times in hopes of generating reader interest -- and upping page-view statistics, that Holy Grail of the modern publishing industry.
Knowing that I'm a sucker for weird connections*, City Weekly owner/publisher emeritus John Saltas facebooked me Wednesday morning with news that the link currently promised "Week 4 of Mormons in the NFL and Reflecting on the words of prophets."
It's beautiful in its haiku-like juxtaposition of imagery. The picture that popped into my mind was that of the Green Bay Packers, in their locker room, kneeling together in tearful prayer and contemplation of Joseph Smith's First Visitation of the Angels.
Later that day when I checked, the teaser had been updated to "Credit card tricks and traps and a BYU student's gratitude" -- producing a weird mental image of some poor MBA candidate tearfully thankful for lessons learned after having been fleeced by unethical usurers. (For some reason, there always seems to be an element of tearfulness in these fantasy tableaux.)
As far as page-views are concerned, the website gadget does a damned good job -- I just can't help clicking on it, just so that I can imagine what future teasers might be in store. During its two-year publishing history, Mormon Times has built up such a sufficient collection of stories that other possible permutations and combinations include:
... More to come when I develop my new online app: "The Mormon Times Random Teaser Generator."%uFFFD
* Once I was reduced to giggles when a high-school debate teacher, Brenda Bensch (who must have been just as weird as I am), demonstrated this form of abstract, list-based humor by inventing three unrelated objects off the top of her head: "a koala bear, a baseball mitt and an english muffin." I was the only one laughing. I'm not sure why randomness holds such hilarious appeal for me -- maybe it's got something to do with the type of joke that begins, "An X, a Y and a Z walk into a bar ..."
At any rate, I'm pretty sure it falls into a category which my comic-genius mentor, City Weekly associate editor Bill Frost, would describe as "too thinky."