A group of news providers serving within the Seventh-day Adventist Church recently met for a day of reflection, open discussions, and planning, on the eve of the 2018 Global Adventist Internet Network (GAiN) annual convention in Seoul, Korea. The meeting, which took place in the Northern Asia-Pacific (NSD) church region headquarters on August 7, 2018, gathered more than 40 communication directors, news writers, and news editors of several regionally-printed church magazines and newsletters from around the world.
In his opening remarks, the Adventist Church’s communication director Williams Costa reminded news communicators about the importance of their job. “We can build or destroy with our words,” he said.
Costa made a case for keeping in mind the power of words. “Words have power — God used His words to create the universe. Words have creative power, and you have that power in your lives,” he said.
Why a Global News Summit?
Reminding the attendees that the world in which we live is substantially smaller than it used to be, Adventist Review communication director and news editor Costin Jordache emphasized that this new reality begs for greater collaboration. “Because [the world] is smaller, we need to figure out how to work better together,” he said. “The key word here is ‘collaboration.’”
“The key word here is collaboration.”
Touting the gathering as “a very significant moment” in the history of Adventist news operations, Jordache explained that this first summit was jointly organized and facilitated by the world church’s Communication Department and Adventist Review Ministries. The Communication Department manages the Adventist News Network (ANN), and Adventist Review Ministries is the publisher of the Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines.
Adventist News Network news editor Jennifer Stymiest shared that a second reason for the Aug. 7 gathering was to dialogue together about best practices regarding general article writing, official news releases and breaking news stories within the Adventist Church. Stymiest also facilitated discussion about news-related photography and videography. “We need to discuss and agree on standards because we’re most effective when we’re on the same page,” she said.
Why Adventist News?
Stymiest reminded participants about the purpose of having a news operation within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “The purpose of Adventist news is to inform, to inspire, and to connect,” she said. Jordache then elaborated on those items, explaining that the more news we circulate from all parts of the world, the more and the better Adventist members are able to understand each other.
Jordache also explained that by its very nature, news can’t always be triumphalist. “We all very much value inspirational news stories and enjoy publishing them, however, not every story can focus on strictly positive outcomes,” he said. “Sometimes, the goal is to analyze and reflect in order to better understand a subject and to learn from it for the sake of more effective mission.”
Global News Platform in Development
The day’s presentations included the introduction of a global news infrastructure, currently being developed in partnership between the world church Communication Department and Adventist Review Ministries. The software solution would allow Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook entities around the world to publish news articles to a central repository. Once posted to the repository—together with images, audio and video—the story would be translated into major languages and made available for distribution by any official Adventist entity around the world.
“It’s the dawn of a new day for Adventist news and we are excited about possibilities for the future.”
“Thousands of Adventist entities are producing great news,” explained Jordache, “but very few of the articles are ever read by audiences around the world. This global news infrastructure aims to provide a way for stories from around the world to be made available to members everywhere in a timely and a consistent manner.”
Stymiest and Jordache next unveiled plans for a global news app, aggregating all news stories into a mobile app, which would allow news stories to be segmented into regional and topics categories. “Depending on your area of interest,” said Stymiest, “you will be able to curate your own Adventist news feed, keeping in touch with developments around the world.”
Assistant director for communication and web manager Brent Hardinge, who provided a historical sketch of how the project came about, announced that the global news repository software platform was scheduled for a 2019 release.
Other Technical Considerations
Among the more technical aspects of the news production workflow, organizers discussed photo and video style guidelines and how to expediently process and distribute breaking news.
Various communication professionals in attendance also weighed in on the best practices to deal with a crisis and sensitive news from around the world, such as stories that involve the work of the church in restrictive or dangerous areas.
The summit included ample time for sharing impressions, posing questions, and sharing ideas about how to make some of the projects in the pipeline a reality.
Feedback after the event was overwhelmingly positive, according to organizers.
“It was really important to have the news providers together to discuss how we can better share our story with the world,” said Stymiest. “I can’t wait to see this event grow each year.”
“The willingness of communication professionals to open up and discuss sensitive matters collaboratively was both necessary and inspiring,” added Jordache. “It’s the dawn of a new day for Adventist news and we are excited about possibilities for the future.”
The next Seventh-day Adventist global news summit is slated for February 2019.