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New leadership, directions named for news service

7/31/2003 News media contact: Stephen Drachler · (615) 742-5411

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Ginny Underwood has been named director, and Tim Tanton managing editor, of United Methodist News Service, the Rev. Larry Hollon, top staff executive of the church's communications agency, has announced.

Underwood, 31, currently managing editor of UMTV, the denomination's television news operation, and Tanton, 42, currently news editor of United Methodist News Service, will assume their new duties Aug. 1, Hollon said. The changes were announced July 31.

"Ginny and Tim are outstanding journalists and committed United Methodists. They bring strong and complementary skills to the table as the leaders of our news team," Hollon said.

"United Methodist News Service has long been respected as a credible and reliable source of news and information from the church," Hollon said. "The changes we are making will allow us to expand delivery of news and information to secular and religious news organizations and to other internal and external audiences."

The changes, Hollon said, result from the realignment of some of the operations of United Methodist Communications approved by its governing board at a meeting in San Diego earlier in July.

UMTV, the denomination's nationally recognized television news operation, becomes a part of the news service Aug. 1. An Internet-based radio news operation is planned to go online this fall. Earlier this year, the news service began offering e-mail newsletter templates to local congregations. Headquartered in Nashville, the news service also has offices in New York City and Washington.

"For more than 60 years, United Methodist News Service has been telling the stories of United Methodists living out their faith and making a difference in the world. These changes reflect United Methodist Communications commitment to share those stories and, more than ever, its mission to live the gospel by giving voice to the voiceless throughout the world," Hollon added.

Underwood joined United Methodist Communications in 1994 as director of its Native American Communications Office. She is a member of the Comanche tribe of Oklahoma. In 1996, she joined the staff of "Odyssey Weekly," a church-supported television news magazine, rising to become managing editor of its successor, "True North," on the Hallmark Channel, from 2000 until 2002.

In 2002, Underwood became the lead developer and manager of UMTV, a television news operation that produces about 100 stories annually for local and national broadcast outlets. In the first six months of 2003, stations in 34 U.S. television markets reaching nearly 45 million viewers picked up UMTV stories for broadcast. Underwood began her television news career as an associate producer for an Oklahoma City television station.

A graduate of Oklahoma City University, Underwood lives in Nashville with her husband, John, and two young daughters.

Tanton joined United Methodist Communications in 1997 after serving as business editor of the Nashville Banner, where his reporting won numerous local and statewide honors. As news editor, he was responsible for editing the copy of United Methodist News Service writers and stringers, developing in-depth story packages and covering a news beat.

A native of Huntsville, Ala., Tanton earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee. He began his journalism career in 1983, working for a number of newspapers before joining the Banner in 1989 as a business writer. He was named business editor in 1993. He and his wife, Jama Bowen, are the parents of a son. They live in Nashville.

At its July meeting, the United Methodist Commission on Communication approved the realignment of United Methodist News Service with UMTV and the Office of Public Information.

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