Reflection on a reporter’s responsibility

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Toby Druin joined the Baptist Standard as associate editor in 1976 and served as editor from 1996 to 1999. As part of our 125th anniversary celebration, he offers his reflections on the Standard from his background as a reporter.

The Baptist Standard came to my home in Amarillo when I was a boy. Since neither of my parents was a member of a local Baptist church, I don’t know why we received it; maybe because I regularly visited Pierce Street Baptist Church, now Second Baptist Church. Nevertheless, it came each week, and my mother read it.

bs anniversary148The Baptist Standard is celebrating its 125th anniversary this month.

The Standard was toby druin130Toby Druinpervasive in Baptist homes in those days. Baptists read it because they were interested in what their fellow Baptists in Texas and around the world were doing. If you joined a Baptist church, the Standard became your weekly link to the Baptist world.

When I became associate editor of the Standard in 1976 and then editor of the paper in 1996, I was struck by the tremendous responsibility of communicating with Texas Baptists and thousands of Baptists in other states and around the globe who depended on the Standard for inspiration for their Christian walk and information about their convention and denomination.

Accurate, timely, responsible

I am a reporter, and the opportunity to cover Texas Baptists was the quintessential journalism job in Baptist life. Stories and editorials in the Baptist Standard drew a larger audience than those in any other Baptist publication. The opportunity given to me to write about what was going on in the lives of Texas Baptists and in the larger Baptist world carried with it the responsibility to be accurate, timely and responsible.

I served as associate editor under John J. Hurt Jr. and Presnall H. Wood, each of whom had a rich Baptist heritage and a strong commitment to Baptist life. Hurt, a layman, was the son of a longtime Baptist pastor who had nominated several men for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention. Wood grew up in First Baptist Church of Vernon under the tutelage and influence of E.S. James, later editor of the Standard. He knew Baptists and the role of the state paper editor in Baptist life.

Years marked by controversy

Twenty of my 23 years with the Standard were marked by controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention. The Standard is owned by the Baptist General Convention of Texas, but it has influence throughout Baptist life, and it was the Standard’s responsibility to report on the issues affecting both the BGCT and the SBC.

The Standard carried the first stories about the controversy. Editor Wood and I felt that everything Baptists were doing and committed to do was affected by the controversy. Editorials and news stories tried to keep our readers informed so they could act and react properly. We were grateful for the independence of the paper and the editorial freedom we enjoyed.

Other 125th Anniversary Reflections:
The Baptist Standard and Kennedy’s election
Baptist Standard: Watchman on the wall
Change, constancy and truth-telling

Here’s how you can celebrate our anniversary with us!


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Care to comment? Send an email to our interim opinion editor, Blake Atwood. Maximum length for publication is 250 words.