WJI alum Emily Scheie: a teacher transformed into a journalist

Dec 2, 2014


Emily Scheie’s love of writing led her to explore journalism through some elective classes during her senior year in college.

The English major, now 24, enjoyed the reporting courses but didn’t think this small amount of formal journalism training would help her land a newsroom job. Instead she followed another interest and became a teacher.

But by this fall Scheie, the teacher, had filed more than 50 stories for the World News Group, tackling topics from accusations of spying at Harvard to the debate over placing gunfire detectors in schools. How did this transformation happen?

Even after graduation Scheie wanted to continue exploring journalism. She just had to find a way to do it while working.

Last year she came across an advertisement for the World Journalism Institute in an issue of World Magazine. WJI’s May course and summer internship fit right into her teaching calendar.

Still she hesitated. Scheie wondered what it would be like being back in the classroom as an older student. Would no longer being in college hold her back? Would not majoring in journalism put her at a disadvantage?

She prayed about it and applied. Not only did Scheie earn acceptance to WJI for 2014, she landed a summer long internship with the World News Group.

“I came to WJI not really thinking of myself as a journalist,” Scheie said. “I was an English major who could write. But now I feel like I can call myself a journalist.”

She compared her time at WJI to an apprenticeship: The on-the-ground structure of WJI pushed her to go outside of the classroom to expand her journalism boundaries. Tackling those reporting tasks sometimes led to errors. But that is when she learned the most. She attributed this to the hands-on attention she received from WJI’s professional journalists. They turned the speed bumps into teachable moments, instilling in her the confidence needed to return to the reporting frontlines on the days after challenging assignments.

While she arrived worrying about being older than the students still in college, Scheie quickly developed friendships that evaporated any age difference.

“It impressed me how eager everyone was to learn how to improve their writing. Being around such desire made it fun especially when we got into the group reporting projects. Everyone worked together so well.”

Scheie grew as a writer at a pace that surprised her. Moving from one project to the next forced her to stay on her toes and kept the days from becoming monotonous. As a teacher herself, Scheie understood how WJI’s structure of theory followed by application helped engrain in her these new reporting skills.

Soon she was waking up each morning to cover an assignment in Asheville or Washington, D.C, and then finding a corner in a coffee shop to write. As this summer routine continued, Scheie developed more courage when it came to navigating sometimes challenging stories and often challenging places like the U.S. Capitol Building. In Washington she got to see the messy side of politics up close for the first time in her life. In Asheville, she would go out into the streets not really knowing what to expect but hoping to find interesting people and hear their stories. Before the summer ended Scheie began to feel like a journalist.

Scheie said WJI transformed her writing. She now places a greater emphasis on being concise, something that was not stressed in her English classes. This has brought new clarity to her writing. She also received valuable practice on how to work quickly but accurately while facing tight deadlines.

But what stood out to Scheie the most was how WJI encouraged her to develop discernment as a reporter: “I am glad I learned at World because they really think about how you deal with ethics as a reporter. It is important to them. I like how World has a deeper purpose behind what they are doing beyond news.”

During almost daily meal conversations, Scheie enjoyed hearing from some of the magazine’s reporters about their thought processes as they cover challenging topics and develop sources.

“I went in expecting to learn about writing, and I got that. I learned so much about writing! But I also grew as a Christian while having to think through tough ethical issues and how to approach a story. It made me tackle life questions that go beyond journalism.”

Scheie is back teaching English and Spanish at a school in Ohio. But she can now add a new job title: journalist.  Scheie is doing some freelance work for World, focusing on education. In November alone, the World News Group posted seven stories written by Scheie. 

To read some of her stories click here:

Emily Scheie World Stories 

And to learn more about how to join the WJI team for 2015 keep exploring this website and click on the "apply now" button at the top of each web page. 

For more information:

World Journalism Institute