Tag Archives: mongolia

South Dakotan Honored by Mongolia

Gruchow, M. (2007). Bringing news to the people: Mongolia honors Sioux Falls man for founding TV station. Argus Leader, 10 March 2007, http://argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070310/NEWS01/703100324/1001/NEWS.

A South Dakotan has, in a fit of inattention, become a Mongolian media magnate:

[Craig] Lawrence, a founder of Sioux Falls-based marketing and advertising firm Lawrence and Schiller, helped start a television station called Eagle Television, based in Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaan Baatar. It was an unexpected offshoot of what started as a Christian missionary effort, he said.

Outside the government itself, we’re the largest employer in Mongolia,” Lawrence said of the television station. “And we’re the longest-lasting American partnership with Mongolia.”

The South Dakotans became involvedin Mongolia as part of Christian missionary work. What began with the Gospel, and involved armed soldiers and a scene worthy of a Hollywood film, is now a great story:

Originally, after the communist government fell in the early 1990s, Lawrence was approached by the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, an organization Lawrence had worked for, to consider a missionary trip to Mongolia.

Not long after, 23 Sioux Falls businesspeople and others, including Lawrence, were in Mongolia, doing humanitarian projects including showing a movie on Jesus Christ, Lawrence said.

The film, in what had been an overwhelmingly Buddhist nation, caught the attention of men drafting the country’s new, democratic constitution.

“We showed the film, and one morning, there was a knock on my door, and when I opened it, there were two soldiers with guns. And they said, ‘You must come with us,’ ” Lawrence said.

The soldiers took Lawrence to meet with those drafting the constitution, which would incorporate articles ensuring religious freedom, he said.

“They asked, ‘Do you think this Jesus could help us write our constitution?’ ” Lawrence said. “So we got to help draft the constitutional elements that outlined their articles of religious freedom.”

The TV station soon followed. Today it broadcasts 16 hours of news daily throughout the country.

Lawrence has now won Mongolia’s Star of Liberty award, and has a long-term view of hope for the Mongolian people:

Lawrence, who years ago worked as editor of the Brookings Register newspaper and spent several years in television journalism, said one looming challenge is continuing the education of the next generation of Mongolian journalists.

Many of the current Eagle TV staff went through Russian journalism schools or were former employees of the state-controlled television station, he said.

It is a constant challenge to keep corruption out of the media, instill journalistic values and try to divorce the Mongolian people from the idea that media was meant only to control the minds of citizens, Lawrence said.

“It’s going to take a long time to build this,” he said. “It’s going to take generations.”

Besides doing good works for others, South Dakota has enjoyed the generosity of others, as well.