The Pathway is recognized for journalism excellence
MOBILE, Ala. – The Pathway has won three awards for excellence in Christian journalism, including a first place for its news writing, in the 2007 Wilmer C. Fields Awards competition conducted by the Baptist Communicators Association (BCA).
The awards were presented to Editor Don Hinkle, Associate Editor Allen Palmeri and Staff Writer Brian Koonce at the BCA’s April 13 awards banquet held at the Riverview Hotel here. It marked the first time The Pathway has ever entered a journalism contest. The BCA has approximately 300 members comprised of communications specialists and professionals throughout the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Judging is conducted by veteran editors, journalists, public relations practitioners and scholars from the secular as well as the Christian journalism fields.
Koonce, who joined The Pathway staff in June 2005 after earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Oklahoma Baptist University, won first place in the news writing division. His winning entry was headlined, “Braggadocio church members benefit from ‘miracle.’” It was a story about how everyone in a Missouri Southern Baptist congregation survived a killer tornado that flattened their church while they were worshipping in April 2006.
“Brian takes his work seriously and his award-winning effort has brought great credit upon The Pathway and the Missouri Baptist Convention,” Hinkle said. “More importantly, he has demonstrated his willingness to use his God-given talent to the glory to God.”
The Pathway also won second place awards in newspaper design and photography. Hinkle, who has served as the publication’s editor since it was created June 8, 2002, is in charge of the newspaper’s look along with Murley Blakley, layout/design coordinator. The Pathway’s appearance has improved significantly during its existence and is one of the few in the SBC that offers full color throughout its pages. The photography award was for a front-page photo of members of Bethlehem Baptist Church holding hands as they stood around the remains of their church which was badly damaged by a tornado. The photo was taken by free-lance photographer Sharon Hadler, a member of First Baptist Church, Perryville.
“These awards are important because they demonstrate that The Pathway, from a purely technical point of view, is exceeding journalistic standards,” Hinkle said. “These awards come from outside, non-biased judges who have the expertise to make decisions of this nature. We will strive to become even better. We thank God for the opportunity to write the ‘first draft’ detailing His activity amidst his creation and His creatures.”
Even though this is the first time the print edition of The Pathway, which was launched in January 2003, has been honored, it is not the first time The Pathway and its staff have been cited. The Pathway Web site garnered a Golden Web Award for “excellence achieved in Web design, content and creativity” by the International Association of Web Masters and Designers in 2003. In 2004, Palmeri was one of two Southern Baptist journalists hand-picked to accompany then SBC President Bobby Welch on his 50-state “Everyone Can” evangelistic tour.
Messengers to the MBC’s 2005 annual meeting overwhelmingly approved a resolution expressing their appreciation to The Pathway for being a “reliable publication that furnishes accurate information and news.” The resolution went on to express its appreciation to Hinkle and the staff for their “splendid service rendered” in putting their work “so accurately before the people.”
The Pathway, which was created by the MBC Executive Board as an alternative to the theologically liberal Word & Way, is widely regarded in the SBC as one of the Convention’s most theologically and politically conservative state newspapers.