WJI 2017 Blog - Day Two AM- Newspapers maintain community

May 15, 2017

Seth Humeniuk

Wheaton College 

This morning was our first day of classes, or whatever it is you call what we do here.

We all got up bright and early for our first session, which started at 9am. We were given an introduction to the program by Marvin Olasky, who talked about the biblical basis for journalism and discussed some famous journalists from the past. Most noticeably, he discussed the passage from Ezekiel 33, discussing the role of watchmen, and comparing them to modern journalists. Over the short day and a half we have had together, this passage has emerged as a recurring theme, and I suspect it will continue to do so throughout the course.

After his introduction, he handed the microphone over to Russell Pulliam, who discussed the importance of editing, and demonstrated its importance through some very challenging editing worksheets. Seemingly every obscure grammar rule in the English language came into play, from the capitalization of independent clauses following a colon, all the way up to putting punctuation inside parentheses.

After Russell had talked for an hour or so, Peter Wagner came up, and told of his experiences in journalism. He began as a highly rated radio announcer (albeit in sparsely populated pocket of Iowa), and still maintains his slick, oily radio voice decades later. He told the story of building Iowa Information (his publishing company) from the ground up, and told us some lessons he has learned through his numerous decades working in journalism.

He gave a slightly different perspective on journalism than I am used to. Most of the journalists I have spoken with, come from larger, urban based publications, but Wagner reaches a much different audience. He promoted small town journalism, explained how newspapers remain vibrant in rural communities while they struggle in big cities, and encouraged us not to be afraid to start at a small town newspaper, even if it serves merely as a stop on the road to bigger and better things. 

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