Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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May 1, 2014

Members of local media join for 15th annual luncheon

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Bluefield College student Missy Baines was a spectator at the institution’s annual media appreciation luncheon for the past three years. On Wednesday, she was the center of attention.

Baines, who will graduate this Saturday, received the 2014 Shott Excellence in Media student award at the 15th annual Media Appreciation Luncheon at Shott Hall on the BC campus.

“I was so surprised,” she said after the event concluded. “I was almost about to cry.”

“I’ve watched numerous of these winners come up and receive their award. I’ve always thought it was such a great award, and a great event, to get out and meet people. I’m just really honored that it was actually me, my name being called this time.”

Baines, who has a 3.9 grade point average, is an art and graphic communication major and all-conference member of the Lady Rams soccer team.

She was discovered by BC’s office of marketing and communications, where she has worked for two years as an “unbelievably creative photographer, an impressive graphic designer, and a social media guru,” said Chris Shoemaker, director of public relations at the college.

Shoemaker also served as the master of ceremonies at the luncheon, and detailed the awardees’ accomplishments before announcing their names.

He reported that faculty members have said that Baines “welcomes solving creative problems and taking leadership roles in group projects. ... She is simply a jewel to be around.”

The award includes a $1,000 scholarship. Shoemaker said, “We are grateful for Mike Shott and The North Point Foundation for underwriting not just this day, but particularly for the scholarship award and the journalism award for our winners today.”

“We consider the Shott family the pioneers of the industry in this region,” he said. Referring to its previous holdings in television, newspaper and radio, which once included the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, he said, “We hope that we’re continuing to preserve that legacy through these awards here.”

Bluefield College president David Olive expressed his thanks to the Shott family, and said that “due to several circumstances,” no one from the family could be present on Wednesday.

He said the region’s media outlets are involved in “not just the telling of the stories, but ... you define community. You make community what it is, because of the way that you share the news and the way that you share the stories.”

The Shott family’s annual professional communicators’ award was presented to Jason “Moose” Reed, a Bluefield College alumnus and a regional radio executive, on-air personality and community volunteer.

Reed was described by a co-worker as “one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met,” Shoemaker said.

Shoemaker took a moment to speak about the 2009 winner, Princeton Times Editor and General Manager Tammie Toler, who could not be present because she is recovering from a stroke suffered last month.

“We do remember her and honor her and recognize her today,” Shoemaker said. “We do miss Tammie.”

The guest speaker for the luncheon, Robert Dilday, talked about the reporting of religion. Dilday is editor in chief of the Associated Baptist Press (ABP) News-Herald.

“Coverage of religion, and more importantly, a grasp of its diversity and its relevance, is essential in unpacking political, economic and cultural stories, both in this country and abroad,” he said.

“Religious motivations, for good or for bad, continue to influence political, economic and cultural debates,” he said. “The narratives and information we receive through the media, in many ways, are helpful correctives, shaping for us a wider view of the world.”

He said that journalists often “become queasy when it comes to unpacking stories (that have) to do with religion. It matters that they find a way to do so.”

“A Google search shows that there is no shortage of religion news online. Of course, the trick may be finding a credible website,” he said.

He quoted Diane Winston, a professor of media and religion, as stating, “Undoubtedly, there’s going to continue to be the need for intelligent religion reporting.”

“Striving for higher-quality religious coverage is not necessarily an appeal for a journalist to adopt a faith commitment,” he said. “For us as journalists, this has to do with accurately and compellingly unpacking the stories of our world in a way that engages society. Religious faith, in all of its diversity, is an integral part of that world.”

Dilday said he was looking forward to presenting his talk at Bluefield College because “I think communicating news is in such transition that people who are in universities and colleges ... are going to be key to whether or not we succeed in making this transition.”

“These are the people who will make that happen,” he said. “So, having the opportunity to speak to them is terrific.”

Just before leaving the luncheon hall for the yearly “media-student roundtable,” he said, “I am so eager to see what they have to say.”

He assessed the students he met Wednesday as “pretty sharp. There are obviously some folks here who are thinking hard about their future, who are thinking hard about the way in which stories are communicated in social contexts.”

“There’s a real variety here in this program, it seems to me. ... That can only help Southwest Virginia.”

— Contact Tom Bone at tbone@bdtonline.com

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