WJI 2015 Day 10: Stories as king

May 28, 2015

Day 10: Storied Stories

Evan Wilt

Thursday positioned stories as king.

In the morning we picked up where we left off from the day before, on the phones. Some called the Pentagon for investigation and others called their mothers for validation. Three hours flew by in a frenzy of writing and editing before a 12 o’clock deadline.

Our fast fingers took a break for a lunch hour. While eating my third BLT in the past 10 days, Susan Olasky spoke to us about her story. She told us about her journey of writing stories. From writing about familiar topics to tackling controversy and getting Bible professors fired.

Mrs. Olasky had a different perspective than our other WJI speakers. Some people spoke to us about the thrill of discovery and the satisfaction of hardnosed reporting. But Mrs. Olasky said she had a hard time dealing with the effects of investigative reporting. She was named one of the top 10 most influential Christians by one poll, but she also received flak from many people for revealing blight of a Christian organization.

Mrs. Olasky shared wisdom about the many ways you can use writing and reporting in your career. It’s a mobile tool box you can take with you she said. Whether you work full-time, part-time, or sometimes, good writing skills will add value to your career—even if deep investigative reporting isn’t your cup of tea.

After writing stories and then listening to them, Mrs. Olasky gave feedback to our critiques of stories. At the start of the program we each selected four books to review. Each of us chose the best of the bunch and wrote an analysis of the book. Some people found hidden, not-yet-published-gems. But some found only despair as they reviewed a mash of solecisms.

Mrs. Olasky is known at WORLD as the resident book expert. She marked up our reviews heavily with purple, rewording and tightening our jumbled thoughts on literary pieces. For some reviews, she rewrote the piece in a much shorter and simpler version. Showing how many redundancies can be cast aside without losing an ounce of meaning.

As the sun disappeared behind the Smoky Mountains, our empty stomachs refueled with burgers and fries. We recapped the day with WJI’s wonderful leader, Lee Pitts. Mr. Pitts shared some stories from his experience as a reporter. He shared with us his patented ‘Pitts’ P’s.’ 

I would share them with you, but what happens in WJI, stays in WJI.

For more information:

World Journalism Institute