Former ABC News Religion Reporter To Receive 2002 Baylor Communications Award

Aug. 26, 2002
News Photo 504Peggy Wehmeyer, the first national religion correspondent for a major television news network, will be presented with the 2002 Baylor University Communications Award during the annual President?s Media Luncheon Aug. 27 on the Baylor campus.

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Peggy Wehmeyer, the first national religion correspondent for a major television news network, will be presented with the 2002 Baylor University Communications Award during the annual President's Media Luncheon at noon Tuesday, Aug. 27, in Barfield Drawing Room in the Bill Daniel Student Center.

The award, which will be presented by Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr., was established six years ago to honor those individuals who have distinguished themselves in the field of communications and also in their communities.

After working and studying at Dallas Theological Seminary, Wehmeyer began her broadcasting career in the early 1980s at Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV, where she pioneered the first religion beat in local television. In 1994, she was tapped by "ABC World News Tonight" anchor Peter Jennings to cover the religion beat, at the time a non-existent category at a national network. Within a year, Jennings said Wehmeyer's work on religion and spirituality issues "elicits a greater response from both audience and colleagues than anything else we have done in recent years."

Before cost-cutting measures at ABC News eliminated her position in 2001, Wehmeyer helped viewers gain a deeper understanding of how faith intersects with culture in everything from Islam in America to the impact of faith on health to prayer in public schools. With award-winning stories airing on "World News Tonight," "Good Morning America" and "20/20," Wehmeyer has interviewed both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush about their own personal faith and its impact on their lives. Her experience and knowledge of America's religious landscape landed her exclusive interviews with the parents of slain Columbine High School student Cassie Bernall and the parents of the McCaughey septuplets.

Her work has been honored with numerous awards, including the Columbus International Film and Video Festival award, the Cine Golden Eagle Award, the Associated Baptist Press

Religious Freedom Award and a Wilbur Award from the Religion Public Relations Council.

Wehmeyer earned her journalism degree with honors from the University of Texas. She lectures at universities around the country and consults from her home base in Dallas, where she resides with her husband, Mark, and two teenage daughters, Hannah and Lauren.

Wehmeyer will serve as a distinguished guest lecturer at Baylor for the fall 2002 semester. She will spend several days on campus, meeting with students in the Honors program and consulting with the department of journalism.

Wehmeyer joins past recipients of the Baylor Communications Award:

• 1996 -- Toby Druin, editor emeritus of the Baptist Standard and a 1966 Baylor graduate, and Rick Bradfield, news director of KWTX-TV in Waco and a 1976 Baylor graduate

• 1997 -- Jack Loftis, associate publisher, executive vice president and editor of the Houston Chronicle and a 1957 Baylor graduate; Hollis Biddle, special projects director of the Waco Tribune-Herald and former managing editor of Texas Football magazine; and Ann Roznovsky, marketing director of the Waco Tribune-Herald

• 1998 -- Troy Dungan, chief weather anchor at WFAA-TV in Dallas and a 1959 Baylor graduate

• 1999 -- Dave Campbell, a 1950 Baylor graduate, founder and editor-in-chief of Texas Football magazine, editor-in-chief of the Baylor Bear Insider, and retired sports editor of the Waco Tribune-Herald

• 2000 -- Steve Blow, columnist with The Dallas Morning News

• 2001 -- Frank Fallon, legendary Baylor sports broadcaster

For more information about the award, contact Lori Scott Fogleman, director of media relations, at (254) 710-6275.

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