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Lester Holt speaks at ACU about faith, journalism

Dec. 2, 2005

MSNBC anchor and “Weekend Today” co-anchor Lester Holt addressed a crowd of nearly 500 at Abilene Christian University’s Centennial Speaker Series dinner Thursday. He spoke about the role of faith in broadcast media and shared stories from the major news events he covered.

His career as a journalist has provided opportunities to gain perspective on matters of life, Holt said.

“When people ask what I appreciate most about what I do, I tell them it’s the insight into how fragile life is…I see life turn on a dime. I see tragic and sudden death. I see sudden and joyous triumph. I see the mighty fall, the humble become a roaring lion. It’s an amazing vantage point on life. But more often than not, I see things not unlike Katrina that force people to take stock of what they have and what really matters. And inevitably, what really matters has nothing to do with what seems important to us now. This job is a continuous series of humility checks.”

Holt also spoke about the place of the media in exploring issues of faith and religion.

“Increasingly, faith is becoming a part of the national conversation, and we can’t ignore it,” Holt said. “Faith and the influence of the faithful is a huge news story.”

After speaking and taking questions from audience members, Holt was presented with the Lamp Award from ACU’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communication. The award is given to Christians who are living out their faith in secular media.

Holt has served as primary anchor for MSNBC’s coverage of major news events such as Operation Iraqi Freedom, the war in Afghanistan and also served as lead daytime anchor for MSNBC’s coverage of Decision 2000. He also served as anchor of “Countdown: Iraq,” and “Operation Iraqi Freedom” a nightly news telecast concentrating on the latest developments surrounding the war with Iraq, from October 2002 through May 2003. Most recently Holt has been reporting live from the gulf coast from cities such as Gulfport, Miss., and New Orleans, La., on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The award winning broadcast journalist began at MSNBC after 13 years of anchoring the evening news for WBBM-TV in Chicago where, in addition to his duties as news anchor, he also reported extensively from trouble spots around the world including Iraq, Northern Ireland, Somalia, El Salvador and Haiti. He has also contributed to the CBS News broadcast “48 Hours,” earning a 1990 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award for his work on “48 Hours: No Place Like Home.” Holt is a member of the Manhattan Church of Christ in New York City.

ACU, a national leader in Christian higher education with 4,700 students from around the world, was founded Sept. 11, 1906. The university is celebrating its Centennial year from Aug. 22, 2005 to Sept. 11, 2006 with the theme "Called to Faith and Excellence."

Upcoming speakers in ACU’s Centennial Speaker Series include:

  • Kathleen Norris – February 27, 2006 • 7:30 p.m. Lecture, Hart Auditorium
  • Dr. Stephen Carter – March 30, 2006 • 11:45 a.m. Luncheon, Teague Special Events Center
  • Robin Roberts – April 8, 2006 • 6:30 p.m. Dinner, Teague Special Events Center
  • Dr. Jean Bethke Elshtain – April 20, 2006 • 7:30 p.m. Lecture, Teague Special Events Center
  • Dr. John Maxwell – April 25, 2006 • Noon Luncheon, Teague Special Events Center

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