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Longtime Baptist journalist Shackleford diescomment (0)

July 27, 2000

A veteran denominational journalist once hailed as a hero for press freedom in the Southern Baptist Convention died July 23 from injuries sustained in a car accident. He was 68.

Shackleford, editor-in-chief of Mature Living magazine at LifeWay Christian Resources since 1992, was traveling south of Nashville at the time of the head-on crash involving three vehicles. In the car with him were his wife, Tommye, daughter, Dee Cochran, and two grandchildren, Ben, 4, and Rachel, 2, Tommye was released July 24 from Vanderbilt Medical Center. Cochran was hospitalized at Williamson Medical Center and expected to be released July 25. Ben and Rachel Cochran were not seriously injured.

Shackleford’s career as a Baptist journalist spanned more than 40 years, but he was best known for being fired 10 years ago as director of Baptist Press, the SBC’s official news service.

In a dramatic closed-door meeting secured by armed guards, the SBC Executive Committee voted July 17, 1990, to fire, without cause, both Shackleford, the vice president in charge of Baptist Press, and Dan Martin, the service’s news editor.

While supporters of the firing said the two journalists were biased against conservatives, others called the move an effort to censor the denomination’s news. A few weeks earlier, Martin reportedly refused to kill a story containing comments critical of a powerful Executive Committee member. Shackleford backed up the decision, and both refused to resign in an effort to head off their firing.

Before joining the Executive Committee, Shackleford was editor of the Baptist and Reflector, news journal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, 1976-1987, and editor of The Indiana Baptist, newsjournal of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, 1965-76.


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