By BNG Staff
Mitch Jaugstetter of Stone Mountain, Georgia, has been named the inaugural recipient of the Ardelle and Hardy Clemons Internship in Faith-based Journalism at Baptist News Global.
Jaugstetter, 23, earned his bachelor’s degree from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, with a major in journalism and minor in law and public policy. He is an alumnus of Mercer’s Center for Collaborative Journalism, and is working towards a Master of Science in digital audience strategy at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
His two-month internship began March 23. He will continue to work out of his home in Stone Mountain.
“Mitch is a worthy recipient of this expanded internship,” said David Wilkinson, BNG’s executive director and publisher. “In addition to an excellent classroom education, Mitch availed himself of every opportunity to gain practical, on-the-job experience during his college years. He has developed an impressive array of skills that fit well with our commitment to adapting our online journalism for social media platforms and other emerging communication technology.”
The Clemons internship was established in 2008 with a lead gift from Jimmy and Kaye Nickell of Kansas City, longtime friends of Ardelle and Hardy Clemons. Jimmy and Ardelle served overlapping terms on the board of directors of Associated Baptist Press, BNG’s predecessor, and both were ardent supporters of a free Baptist press. Nickell died in November 2019.
Ardelle Clemons, a member of ABP’s founding board of directors, died in 2011 at age 93 following a long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. She and Hardy had been married 57 years at the time of her death.
Hardy Clemons served as pastor of Second Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas, and First Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina. He also was a prominent leader in the Alliance of Baptists and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. After his retirement in 2005, he and Ardelle moved to San Antonio where he later served three years as executive interim pastor of Trinity Baptist Church.
Wilkinson said additional contributions to the Clemons endowment in recent years have enabled BNG to utilize the fund’s earnings to expand the internship program from a student internship of 8 to 10 hours a week to a more intensive experience of 30 hours a week for a period of several months. Jaugstetter is the first journalism graduate selected for the expanded program.
The goal, he added, is to grow the fund to an amount that will underwrite a residency program in faith-based journalism at BNG.
BNG has two other interns this spring, each supported by the R.G. “Gene” Puckett Endowment for student internships. Tori Crook is a graduate of University of North Carolina-Greensboro and a first-year student at Yale Divinity School. Rebekah Gordon is a graduate of University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a 2019 master of divinity graduate of Campbell University Divinity School.
The endowment was established in 2006 with a lead gift from Puckett’s longtime friend, the late Ed Vick, and Vick’s wife, Laura Anne, of Raleigh.
Puckett worked as a Baptist journalist longer than any person in the 20th century. Before his retirement in 1998, he served 16 years as editor of the Biblical Recorder, then the weekly print journal for North Carolina Baptists. He died in 2013.
“We are immensely grateful for the vision of friends who have invested in the future of independent, faith-based journalism through our internship programs,” Wilkinson said. “Their generosity will help BNG prepare the next generation of excellent journalists, editors, writers and thinkers who are informed and guided by faith – and at a time when a free religious press is more important than ever.”