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Otterson is a convert to the LDS Church. Born and educated in Britain, he entered journalism in his native city of Liverpool before moving to Australia where he worked as a political reporter and sub-editor in South Australia and Canberra. Following a year's stint as a sub-editor on the Japan Times in Tokyo, he returned to the UK and was appointed Business Editor for the Liverpool Daily Post.
In 1976 he left journalism to manage the London public affairs office of the LDS Church, which was then the only such office outside of the United States. He remained there until 1979 as Public Relations director for the LDS Church in the United Kingdom, when the church invited him to move back to Australia to open a new public affairs office in Sydney. He remained in that post for 12 years before moving to the United States in 1991 to manage the worldwide training program for church public affairs operations. He managed the church's news media relations from 1997 to 2008, when he became managing director of LDS public affairs. Otterson has served twice as a stake president — in Liverpool, England, and in Sydney, Australia.
In 2003 Otterson responded to a Newsweek article about the Latter-day Saints, taking issue with its characterization of the LDS Church as acting on superficial instead of deeply held beliefs. In 2003 Otterson was also the LDS Church's main point man in its response to Jon Krakauer's book on Mormonism, Under the Banner of Heaven.
He was engaged as early as 2006 in positioning the Church as politically neutral in relation to Mitt Romney running for president and once wrote an article in which he argued that Romney's religion should be a non-issue. He also was very vocal in stating that the LDS Church would give no institutional support to Romney.
In late 2009 Otterson gained national attention by making an official statement for the LDS Church in the Salt Lake City Council meeting in favor of city ordinances that included sexual orientation and gender identity among categories covered in fair housing and fair employment regulations. A year later, on October 12, 2010, he delivered an official statement for the Church on bullying of gay young men.
Besides periodical columns and various articles, Otterson is the author of Finding Your Family on the Internet: The Ultimate Guide to Online Family History Research (ISBN 1933317442).
- McKinley, Jesse; Johnson, Kirk (November 14, 2008), "Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage", The New York Times
- "Choir's media impact", Church News, July 20, 1991
- Otterson, Michael (February 10, 1979), "Osmonds draw 3,000 to fireside in London", Church News insert, Deseret News
- Redmond, Ron (June 5, 1982). "Mormon Missionaries Working Hard". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. (UPI). Retrieved 2010-03-17.
- Listed as LDS Church spokesman: Mims, Bob (October 5, 1998), "Church Funds Initiative to Ban Same-Sex Marriages in Alaska" (paywall), The Salt Lake Tribune.
- "Gateway to Zion", Church News, August 29, 1992
- "New stake presidencies", Church News, August 3, 1991
- Spangler, Donna Kemp (September 3, 2001), "Church criticizes article in journal", Deseret News
- Marshall, John (July 27, 2003), "LDS Church feels 'tarred' by the book", Seattle Post-Intelligencer - article on the Under the Banner of Heaven debate
- Easton, Nina J. (August 30, 2005), "Mormonism may sour Romney for some in Christian right", The Boston Globe, archived from the original on 2008-09-05.
- Church Responds to HRC Petition: Statement on Same-Sex Attraction, "News Release", MormonNewsroom.org, 12 October 2010
- Otterson, Michael (April 14, 2011). "A Latter-day Saint view of Book of Mormon musical". The Washington Post.
- Allen, Mike (November 26, 2006), "A Mormon as President?", Time Magazine
- Gorski, Eric (November 11, 2009). "Mormons throw support behind gay-rights cause". The Middletown Journal. (AP). Archived from the original on 2011-07-16.
- Helman, Scott; Levenson, Michael (October 19, 2006), "Romney camp consulted with Mormon leaders", The Boston Globe, archived from the original on 2008-05-11(article that mentions Otterson)
- Proctor, Maurine Jensen (May 2007), "Arts & entertainment: The Mormons", Meridian Magazine, archived from the original on 2008-05-11(quotes Otterson)