28 05

WJI 2021, Day 10 PM - Learning to T.H.A.W.

After an intense week of learning journalism best-practices and completing fast-paced assignments, the WJI students will spend Week Two developing real news stories to apply what we’ve learned.

This morning we split into three groups to begin working in our assigned tracks. I’m one of six students tasked with crafting feature stories for future publication in World Magazine. Unlike those on the audio/video and daily news tracks—each of whom are juggling multiple smaller projects—we on the magazine track are collaborating in two groups of three to complete a single, long-form story.

Last week we learned the acronym T.H.A.W. to remember the stages of writing a news story: Think, Hunt, Assess, Write. This morning we gathered around the snack-room table to Think, brainstorm our story and do preliminary research. We reconvened with our magazine-track colleagues after lunch to report progress and identify next steps for our stories. It’s interesting to be part of the brainstorming process for a feature article, as we share newly-gained knowledge and consider different angles.

Now we start Hunting, gathering information and identifying key sources. I notice WJIers in motion all afternoon, popping in and out of classrooms and finding quiet nooks to arrange interviews by phone.

A few hours and several pages of notes later, we’ve roughed out a working nut graf, nailed down an important interview, and learned more about our topic than we thought was possible in a single afternoon. Tomorrow we’ll continue Hunting as we start talking to sources. Then we’ll Assess our findings and begin to shape them into a story before we Write.

We gathered after dinner to hear from Jamie Dean, national editor of World. She encouraged us to trust the process of reporting; to stay calm even when we don’t know how things will turn out; to ask for help when we need it; to be curious; and, not to be afraid to take on things that may seem tough early on. She notes that journalism involves a lot of grunt work. After a long day spent Googling and reading articles, I resonate with that.

Dean reminded us that when it comes down to it, journalism isn’t about writing stories that we ourselves love, but stories that serve the reader. She urges us to “make every effort to tell stories that glorify God and help people.”

I hadn’t expected this week to look or feel so different from last week. Those I’ve talked with agree: the day seems to go faster when we spend it working on a single project. Though it’s nice to have a change from last week’s breakneck pace, suddenly I realize we’re speeding toward the end of WJI—and part of me doesn’t want it all to end.

-Chloe Baker