Witness' Managing Editor Joni Hannigan to step down March 31
Feb 20, 2014
By STAFF

JACKSONVILLE (FBW)-Joni B. Hannigan, managing editor at Florida Baptist Witness for more than a decade, has resigned and will leave the 130-year-old statewide newspaper March 31.

Florida Baptists will remember Hannigan most for her informed onsite coverage of the Terri Schiavo case, the historic 2004-5 hurricane seasons, missions endeavors in the Middle East and Super Bowls in Florida.

Her “godly men” and “godly women” features, focused on Florida Baptists from all walks of life, reflect her own roots as a Cuban American and a U.S. Navy veteran.

Art Ayris, a former member of the Witness board of directors, said of Hannigan: “In my six years on the Witness board, and as a publisher, one thing I came to relish was Joni’s passion for story, often uncovering the hidden ones which we Florida Baptists needed to know.

“With a sigh, I tell her goodbye, and wish her the very best as she takes her writing craft to the next mission field.”

Kevin Bumgarner, who started serving as executive editor of the Witness earlier this month, said he regrets not having the opportunity to work with Hannigan.

“Joni is a talented journalist who brought many strengths to the Witness,” Bumgarner said. “I wish her all the best in the next stage of her professional life.”

References to Hannigan’s thousands of articles have appeared online and in print newspapers, journals, books, documentaries, blogs and magazines across the globe, and some of her articles have been translated into other languages.

Bill Bangham, editor-in-chief of CommissionStories at the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, said of Hannigan: “Joni’s constellation of skillsets showcase her talent and creativity. She is an excellent writer, photographer and editor. I have been fortunate to work with her as a colleague through Baptist Press, and as judges and facilitators on several journalism contests. We have also cooperated on overseas press coverages. Joni has an incredible work ethic. She is driven by a commitment to excellence.”

As a former national correspondent for Baptist Press, Hannigan continued a strong partnership with the official news service of the SBC during her time at the Witness, and also continued to lead the Baptist Press Collegiate Journalism Conference—a 10-year endeavor that was discontinued after 2010.

During her time at the Witness, Hannigan has coached and trained a number of collegiate interns who are working in professional positions. She was an adjunct instructor at the University of North Florida and at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Hannigan has earned awards from Evangelical Press Association and Baptist Communicator’s Association for newswriting and photojournalism.

Hannigan is an officer of Baptist Communicator’s Association (BCA), an organization serving key Baptist communicators worldwide, and will serve as the awards chair at its annual workshop April 9-12 at Ridgecrest in North Carolina.

She is an honorary charter member of Florida Baptist Children's Homes Women of Compassion, taught classes for Christian Women's Job's Corp., a ministry of the Jacksonville Baptist Association, and was featured in a March 21, 2008, Florida Times Union article, "The Faith Leader: Her Gift and Calling Is to Tell Stories of the Faith."

Hannigan voluntarily tendered her resignation Jan. 10.  Last May, the Witness’ former executive editor, James A. Smith, announced his resignation to return to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he is now executive editor and chief spokesperson.

On Jan. 9, the Witness’ board of directors hired Bumgarner, former editor-in-chief of the Pacific Business News in Honolulu, as the new executive editor. He has more than 20 years’ experience in the news business, and has served as a layman in Southern Baptist churches in Kansas, North Carolina, Texas and Hawaii.

Hannigan previously was a pastor’s wife and a high school English and journalism teacher whose students produced award-winning publications. She began her career as a freelance writer under the direction of the late veteran Baptist journalist James C. Hefley Jr., Ph.D., when she studied in his classes at Hannibal LaGrange University in Hannibal, Mo. From Hannibal she went to Bloomington, Ind., where she served as the Baptist Student Union director for the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana for four years. She is currently in the final year of a second term as a member of the board of trustees at Hannibal LaGrange University.

A California native, Hannigan was elected unanimously by the Witness board on Aug. 12, 2002. Her husband, John Hannigan, who previously announced his retirement as the Witness business manager, also will leave March 31.

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