Even after just two days of journalism sessions and on-the-ground reporting at Orange County’s Tulip Festival, I needed Sunday’s rest. The first two days of the World Journalism Institute were packed from morning tonight, and especially tiring after traveling to Iowa from various parts of the country.
After attending First Reformed Church’s Sunday morning service, I spent the afternoon reading, journaling and getting to know my WJI classmates. Many of us hung out in the lounge underneath our West Hall dorms—which had a cozy, lodge-like feel—and talked, read, shared music and even made a fleece tie-blanket.
Monday morning, Indianapolis Star journalist Russ Pulliam began his session with a short lesson about copy editing. It was a helpful reminder of the cruciality of accuracy and preciseness in good writing—as one of my journalism professors at Liberty University often said, it’s important to be faithful in the little things.
After talking about copy writing, we wrote up short stories based on a police report from Robert Downey Jr.’s 2000 arrest, and Mr. Pulliam offered advice on our ledes and content. He also spent some time answering questions about job searching and social media and developing a journalism beat. Before lunch, he assigned profile partners, and throughout the rest of the day we will write profiles for one another for Mr. Pulliam to critique.
May 18th proved to be an exciting day here at WJI! Today, the gang of 23 students took a day-trip to Orange City, Iowa for their 79th annual Tulip Festival. The festival is a three-day street fair and parade, held every May, to celebrate the town's Dutch heritage and traditions; and hear me when I say, Orange City certainly knows how to celebrate!
Unfortunately, us students could not spend all our time enjoying the parade. We were there to hunt down story beats. Each student was assigned their own beat for the day, tasked to find a person to interview in regards to the Tulip Festival, and many of us took cameras so we could get colorful photos to pair with our stories. When the mission was completed, by about 4:00pm, we headed back to campus for dinner, then quickly got to work in front of our laptops. We now had a new mission: to finish writing our stories by 9:00 pm.
We flocked to the common rooms and plugged in those noise-cancelling headphones. And so, what began as an exciting day, ended up looking like a typical studious night in the life of a college student.
This morning at Dordt University, I gathered with my fellow WJI attendees at 9 A.M. sharp for the first full session of the World Journalism Institute (WJI). We started the day hearing the professional expertise of Edward Lee Pitts, a former journalist for World Magazine and the associate dean of the WJI.
Pitts began by focusing on what our focus should be as Christian journalists. He said that a Christ-centered journalist should resist the urge of a story centered around the idea “man can do all things,” because we believe in a greater authority than man.
I also really liked another piece of advice that Pitts coined “Pitts P’s”: Perseverance, Presence, Personhood, Prepared. Of these four pieces of information, I thought “Personhood” was perhaps the most powerful, considering some of the stories Pitts told. “Personhood” described how we, as Christian journalists, cover human beings created in God’s image, not objects. We cannot simply reach down their throats and yank a quote out. Instead, we must always respect the humanity of the people we use in our stories and put them first.
To finish up the afternoon, each of us had to throw a dart at a map of Dordt’s campus. The dart’s position on the map directed the student who threw it to a place on campus that they must describe. My dart landed directly on the Dewitt Gymnasium. It felt strange describing the scenery of an abandoned gymnasium that I have personally seen filled to the brim with avid fans, but it was also a fun experience and I wrote down more detail than I thought possible.
Today, I learned so much about how I should conduct myself as a Christian journalist in the areas of reporting, writing, and documenting, and tomorrow, I will have the chance to directly apply what I have learned at the Tulip Festival in Orange City, IA.
10 December 2018
World Journalism Institute Launches New Website
The World Journalism Institute (WJI) has launched a new website (https://wji.world/) that provides a colorful, in-depth peek at what journalism students can achieve through the institute’s annual summer program.