19 05

WJI Blog 2023, Friday Night Introduction

I always wondered what it would be like to stay overnight in an airport. Turns out it’s not nearly as fun as I thought. The World Journalism Institute officially started Friday night at 6 pm with a pizza party. I started it at 1 am at the Sioux Falls airport, trying to sleep in a chair until the rest of the students arrived at 11 am. When the bus finally did arrive, I was so tired that I thought two students were just hitchhikers catching a ride to Sioux Center. Turns out their names are Alessandra and Emma and I was just very wrong.

After the pizza party, we all sat in a room with a red carpet at the door. We waited for Lee Pitts, the funny man that had sent us multiple dissertation-length emails leading up to WJI beginning. Suddenly, he burst into the room wearing what I can only describe as a dollar store tuxedo. All I could think is “boy, what did I get myself into?”

Then he began to speak. He reminded us how we as journalists are called to keep the powerful accountable and give a voice to the voiceless. He challenged us to stand as watchmen and report what we find, much like the watchmen in the time of Ezekiel. The work can be dangerous and is always difficult, but it’s important. He told us to report the story that no one else would, to turn heads towards the suffering. Above all he reminded us how “good stories told well change lives.” He then asked us what stories we wanted to tell.

Despite my exhaustion, I left that meeting praising God for his goodness and for the world journalism institute that I was about to begin. I fell asleep excited for the stories God would call me to write.

-Jeremy Abegg