WJI Blog Day 2 AM: How Journalism Happens

May 18, 2018

Emma Dill

University of Minnesota


On the warm and mostly-sunny first morning of the World Journalism Institute (WJI), we transitioned from examining what journalism is to how journalism happens.

In a session lead by Professor Lee Pitts, we talked journalism basics - how to find a story, the attributes of a newsworthy topic and how to quickly identify sources and experts. We also learned one of my personal favorite truths about journalism (and writing in general) – good writing comes in the editing.

I love to write, so when Professor Pitts told us that journalism is 90 percent reporting and 10 percent writing, I was surprised. When I think about journalism, I sometimes over-value the writing and forget how much reporting goes into each article. I think this is an especially important lesson to prepare us for the Dutch Tulip Festival tomorrow where we will all have to focus solely on reporting.

After learning about these basics, we applied them by searching for article pitches around the Dordt campus. We had to find and submit 10 story ideas to Professor Pitts. Walking around campus gave us a great opportunity to explore Dordt’s buildings. I found the library and was able to appreciate some of Dordt’s beautiful and thoroughly Midwestern art. Several other students and I also talked to a librarian and learned about a research trip a group of Dordt students took to Ukraine this summer to study statistics and data sets.

Another part of the morning I enjoyed was a scavenger hunt through editions of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. It was fun paging through the papers and trying to categorize the stories into story types and characteristics including conflict, soft news, human interest and local.

Finally, I enjoyed learning about story organization because I always like to think about the “bigger picture” of my writing. The organizational styles we learned today will definitely help me balance information and engaging, detailed content in future articles.

Although the beginning of our first full day at WJI was filled with the journalism basics, I still learned new things and realized some things I already knew. When the session was over, we headed to lunch, where we met Dordt’s President Erik Hoekstra and his wife. Coming from a large school like the University of Minnesota I was pleasantly surprised to see, much less meet, Dordt’s president.

For more information:

World Journalism Institute