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Baptist Press cyberspace site receives national recognition

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Prodigy Internet has announced that Baptist Press, the national news service of the Southern Baptist Convention, was the company’s number-one featured religious news website during the month of November and was named Prodigy’s website of the month at http://communities.prodigy.net/religion.

“Prodigy’s religion community is happy to feature one of the most impressive and up-to-date religion news sites on the Internet,” said Don Ferguson, Prodigy’s religion community leader.

“Perhaps you can even find out more than you wanted to know with daily updates from Baptist Press,” Ferguson said. “The Baptist Press news service is written and edited by staff members at the Southern Baptist Convention [based] in Nashville — but their news about other religious groups is ‘hot’ and interesting. Because of recent negative press, you may have a bias against the Southern Baptist Convention. But don’t let your bias, if any, interfere with visiting this exciting news site.”

Will Hall, vice president for news services of the Executive Committee of the SBC, said he was pleased to hear about Prodigy’s announcement.

“This has been an exciting time for Baptist Press as we begin to expand our ministry into other venues,” Hall said. “I’m happy for everyone in our organization about the recognition given by Prodigy.net to Baptist Press as a top religious news provider.

Activity on the Baptist Press Internet site, at www.sbc.net, has more than quadrupled since May, Hall noted.

“Also, the relationships that others have sought with Baptist Press are a form of positive recognition about the quality of faith-based journalism that we provide,” Hall said. “I’m very pleased about the relationships that already have been forged and I’m excited as we weigh other requests to create formal affiliations.”

Hall’s comments reflect recent actions by several organizations seeking formal and informal relationships with Baptist Press.

Todd Starnes, assistant editor of Baptist Press, is a frequent invited guest on the nationally syndicated “Doug and Karla” morning show of WAY FM, which now carries a link on its website to Baptist Press. The WAY FM network includes 25 stations across the Southeast.

Baptist Press continues a longstanding relationship with Crosswalk.com as a featured news service. Also, Beliefnet.com has requested Baptist Press to provide monthly feature stories for its Internet site. Beliefnet is now the major religion content provider for America Online, which has 55 million users.

“These positive developments are promising signals as we look to expand our news delivery. We work hard to put out a good product so that readers of BP News witness the difference.”

Hall said the increased interest in Baptist Press is encouraging and he expects more readers in the coming days. “We are currently renovating our site to provide additional coverage and many other added features that will inform our readers and be helpful to our state newspapers,” Hall said. “We will be enhancing our efforts to bring not only Southern Baptists, but the Christian community news from a spiritual worldview perspective.”

Among the changes already made:

— Baptist Press Sports. BP Sports provides daily national coverage of 56 Baptist and traditionally Baptist colleges and universities. Since its debut on Sept. 5, the site — www.bpsports.net — has garnered praise from Baptist coaches and athletes whose achievements have usually gone unnoticed by secular media.

Hall said the sports site is designed to catch the attention of younger Southern Baptists. “We even have a sports-themed plan of salvation,” he said.

The sports site also includes a live sports ticker that provides up-to-the-minute scores, opinion polls and feature stories on prominent Christian athletes.

— Additional staffing. In an effort to create more original stories, Baptist Press has hired a full time staff writer in its Nashville office. The writer, Ashley Michael, will focus on Christian sports.

— BP On Assignment. This special assignment project debuted in September with “Wedgwood’s Amazing Grace.” This magazine-style publication allows Baptist Press writers, photographers and graphic designers to focus on issues-based assignments. More than 70,000 copies of the eight-page, full-color publication were mailed to Southern Baptists, the six Southern Baptist seminaries, as well as journalism departments at all 56 Baptist colleges and universities.

— Baptist Press National Student Journalism Conference. Hall announced in November the creation of what will become an annual event. The Baptist Press National Journalism Conference is set for Sept. 27-29, 2001, in Nashville, Tenn. The conference will feature workshops and panel discussions in print, broadcast and Internet publications.

Nationally syndicated columnist and editor Fred Barnes is the scheduled keynote speaker.

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