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‘Set the standard!’ challenge offered by speakers at third annual Baptist Press student journalism conference

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–“Set the Standard” was the theme around which 150 students and faculty gathered for the third annual Baptist Press National Student Journalism Conference Oct. 9-11 in Nashville, Tenn.

Conference workshops focused on news and feature writing, photography, broadcasting, graphic design, yearbook design and public relations. The students also participated in worship led by Christian recording artist Jason Morant and heard keynote addresses from such Christians in the media as David Clark, Rudy Kalis and Eric Metaxas.

The conference’s “Set the Standard” theme at the Southern Baptist Convention Building in Nashville encouraged students to be exemplary both in their journalism and their Christian witness.

Will Hall, BP executive editor and Executive Committee vice president for news services, said that “throughout the skill building sessions as well as the fellowship times we were able to translate ‘Set the standard’ from merely a theme into a vocational and spiritual charge that our participants, both student and professional journalists alike, could — and did — embrace.

“I feel truly blessed to have been a part of this extraordinary experience — the music worship led by Jason Morant, the testimonies and inspiration shared by the general session speakers, the technical instruction by our faculty and the times of networking and fellowship among the group — it was special,” Hall said.

Among the conference speakers:


David Clark, president of Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla., and former president of FamilyNet television, told the students that Christian journalists have a powerful opportunity to impact culture with the message of Christ.

Media sets the agenda of what Americans think about, Clark said. Thus, Christian journalists can draw the public’s attention to issues that are important to God.

“When we talk about being a witness and a believer, it may not always mean that you can give the ‘Four Spiritual Laws’ in the context of what you’re writing or what you’re doing,” he said. “But you’re still a witness. … God has called us to declare His glory, not just by what we say but how we live and by the way you practice our profession.”

One way Christian journalists can glorify God is to point out violations of God’s standards in culture and encourage citizens to address those violations, Clark said. He warned though, that such work often proves difficult.

“There are going to be moments in your life where you’re going to say, ‘Lord, where are You? What am I doing? Help! But it’s at those moments of need, of vulnerability, of fear that we will receive power … and we will be witnesses,” he said.

The function of a Christian journalist, Clark concluded, is not to succeed but to serve. “We need men and women who are out to bring God’s truth to bear on a world that desperately needs God’s truth.”


Rudy Kalis, sports director at WSMV TV in Nashville, exhorted the students to lead lives of integrity. A Christian journalist’s impact for Christ, he said, hinges upon his or her integrity.

A life without integrity “will take the power out of the witness that God has given you and the talent that you have in your photography skills, in your writing skills,” Kalis said.

For Christians, an integral part of journalistic integrity is to encourage others and avoid self-centeredness, he said.

“Into you flows the truth of God, the wisdom of God. … If it doesn’t flow out from you to make someone else’s life better and different, you’ll die,” Kalis said. “If you get full of yourself and you think you’re the best there is, you’ll die.”

The ultimate aim of journalism should be to glorify God by reflecting His truth and His mercy, Kalis said.

He told young journalists to “make a decision in your work. Realize who God is and realize the magnificent power that you have to change and touch the world.”

Jerry Jenkins, coauthor of the popular “Left Behind” series and author of more than 150 books, delivered the keynote address at the Excellence in Journalism Banquet held at the Wyndham Union Station Hotel. Jenkins spoke of his writing career, including his work evangelist Billy Graham.

More than 80 awards were presented to students in the Baptist Press Excellence in Journalism Contest.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: DAVID CLARK and RUDY KALIS.