Peggy Wehmeyer to speak at 2002 BP Journalism Conference

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Peggy Wehmeyer, who became the first correspondent to report for a major network on religious and spiritual issues, will be one of four keynote speakers for the second annual Baptist Press National Student Journalism Conference in Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 10-12, 2002.

Wehmeyer, who covered religion for ABC News and reported for World News Tonight With Peter Jennings and 20/20, will join a team of evangelical Christian journalists to lead the conference from The Washington Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, National Public Radio, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Philadelphia Inquirer, North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board.

"I am excited about the opportunity we are creating for students to come together for skill building workshops, networking, and spiritual encouragement as journalists," said Will Hall, vice president for news services for the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee and executive editor of Baptist Press. "The program of events and the lineup of journalists we have put together are outstanding."

The three-day conference will feature keynote addresses, panel discussions and workshops led by some of the nation's top evangelical Christian journalists, photojournalists and broadcasters, Hall said.

"This conference will be a great opportunity for Baptist student journalists to network with Christian journalists working in both religious and secular media," Hall said. "We want to let our Baptist students know that you can be a Christian and be a successful journalist, too.

Last year's conference featured more than 170 journalism participants from across the nation.

"I was very pleased with the successful launch of this annual convocation last year and we are shaping up a great time of fellowship and professional development for this year," Hall said. "We have added tracks for public relations and literary magazine, and journalists from some of the top media outlets in the country will be part of our faculty.

Before joining ABC News, Wehmeyer covered religious and social issues for WFAA in Dallas. She had previously served as director of public information at Dallas Theological Seminary, where she studied.

She graduated with honors from the University of Texas at Austin.

"One of my greatest passions is to inspire young men and women of faith to be on the cutting edge in the secular media," Wehmeyer said.

Joining Wehmeyer as keynote speakers are Don Boykin, deputy managing editor of The Atlanta Journal-The Atlanta Constitution; Gary Fong, director of editorial graphics technology for The San Francisco Chronicle and Pulitzer Prize board member; and Lawrence Smith, vice president for communication at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and former news director at WHAS, Louisville, Ky.

Workshop leaders include Julia Duin, The Washington Times; Judi Christi, editor, The Shreveport Times; Sterling Chen, features design editor, The Philadelphia Inquirer; William Perkins, editor, The Baptist Record; Lynn Clayton, editor, The Baptist Message; Matthew Melton, chair, Dept. of Communication, Lee University; Kathy Dean, University of Mobile; Fred Jackson, American Family Radio; Dan Howell, WDSI FOX 61, Chattanooga, Tenn.; Colleen Rudy, deputy press secretary for the mayor of San Diego; Steve Massey, Idaho editor, The Spokesman-Review; Michael Laney, Lee University; Scott Couch, WTVF, Nashville; Daniel Brown, SBC Executive Committee; Jackie Marlushka, director of public relations for Provident Music; Ted Olsen, Christianity Today Online; Jim Veneman, Union University; Gibbs Frazeur, North American Mission Board; Bill Bangham, International Mission Board; and Morris Abernathy, freelance photojournalist.

The conference will be held at the Southern Baptist Convention building in downtown Nashville, Hall said.

Workshop tracks will be held in the categories of print journalism, broadcast journalism, design, photography, literary magazine, and public relations.

A new track has been developed for journalism professors and faculty advisors. The Faculty Advisor College will be hosted by Norton, dean of the school of journalism at the University of Nebraska.

In addition to the conference, Hall announced the second annual Baptist Press Excellence in Journalism Contest. The contest is open to all Baptist college and university student newspapers, yearbooks and student newspaper websites.

The contest will recognize individual achievement in student writing and will be judged by a panel of professional journalists.

In 2001 more than 100 awards were presented to student journalists in honor of their work. Baylor University won first place in the best overall newspaper category, Ouachita Baptist University won first place in the best overall yearbook category, Cumberland College won first place for best overall broadcast, and Gardner-Webb University won first place in best overall on-line newspaper.

A call for entries and registration for the conference will be in April.

Hall also said plans are underway for the 2002 President's Award for Excellence in Student Journalism. The award will be presented by Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee.

The award is given to a student who has shown sustained excellence in scholastic journalism.

In 2001 the award was presented to Dale Peacock, of Houston Baptist University, and Jessica Webb, of Gardner-Webb University.

Registration for the conference is $55 per person and includes conference fees, opening night reception, dessert fellowship, and the Excellence in Journalism banquet.

For additional information or to register for the conference, call Todd Starnes at (615) 782-8615.

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