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.