By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Just recently I received an e-mail from a long-time friend and colleague in denominational journalism. He wrote, after browsing through some various state papers online, “I was thoroughly impressed with the B&R’s content and display. Everything there has visual appeal web-wise, even if just a headline, and is easily accessible and, then, quite a number of the stories are great reports.”
High praise from someone I respect — someone who has read and written for a number of state papers across the decades.
While this is a tribute to our staff, which includes Connie Bushey, Mary Nimmo,, and Corinne Williams (and others on occasion), I don’t share this to “brag” but rather to remind Tennessee Baptists that they have a newspaper they can be proud of. The Baptist and Reflector does not belong to me or the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s Communications Team, of which we are a part. We make it available to you because it is yours. In a survey we conducted two years ago people told us they wanted more news about Tennessee Baptists and TBC churches. We have worked hard to do that.
Since Chris Turner arrived to lead our Communications Team about two years ago, he has been a champion also for telling stories to enhance a biblical worldview. We have addressed some tough issues in the paper such as addictions, same-sex marriage, transgendered people, and more. We will continue to do so.
Chris also has led an effort to increase the impact of the B&R. The reality of the world is that print journalism, while not yet dead, is limping along. Numerous publications have ceased print operations over the past decade. While Baptist newspapers are a niche publication and have a brighter future than most print papers, we’re not exempt. Just last year The Christian Index, perhaps the oldest of Baptist state papers, ceased its print edition and is accessible only online.
With that in mind we introduced a dedicated B&R website last fall. In only nine months the website has seen 52,000-plus unique users who have generated nearly 176,000 page views. Since January we are averaging about 12,000 sessions a month (counted every time someone engages the site). At the same time, our print publication’s subscriptions are holding steady. I thank each and every church that has the B&R in its budget for its members. May your tribe increase — and it can. The annual Baptist and Reflector Day emphasis will be observed on Sunday, Aug. 28. If your church does not receive the B&R it can receive free copies of the Aug. 24 issue to distribute to members. Call Mary Nimmo at 615-371-7929 or use the order form below.
The print edition is important because it helps to fund the website. But for those who don’t want a print copy, visit the website often. New stories are posted at least every other day, if not daily most weeks. We also have a new E-newsletter which is distributed to church leaders which links them to stories of interest. If you would like to be on that list, let us know.
I have heard Chris Turner tell others, “So many have sounded the death of Baptist state papers, but we truly have a messaging vehicle that is positioned to increase in strength and influence.” He has been an encourager to me and an advocate for the paper.
In a world which seldom has the opportunity to read the good stories of what kingdom people are doing for the cause of Christ, we need publications — both in print and online — dedicated to doing just that.
Introduce friends and people you know to the Baptist and Reflector. Order free copies of the paper for B&R Day. Send the website link to people you know.
My pledge to you, our readers, is to continue to lead the Baptist and Reflector to be a publication that you are not only proud of, but one that you want your friends to read as well. Thank you for your support.