WJI Buzz - Journalists Tout Power of Faith by Nia Arnold

Aug 11, 2009

World Journalism Institute held its annual Conference for Minority Christian Journalists in partnership with the National Association of Black Journalists during the NABJ convention last week in Tampa, Fla. The NABJ Monitor, NABJ's student publication, ran the following article. (Editor's note: The luncheon was attended by 80-90 people.) 

"Journalists Tout Power of Faith"

By Nia J. Arnold

Before writing a story, professional journalist Will LaVeist calls on a higher power: his religion.

“Being a journalist, my faith is very important to me,” said LaVeist, an author and forthcoming journalism professor at Christian-based Regent University. “As a journalist I would seek guidance to execute properly on the story.”

LaVeist was one of about 60 people who attended the luncheon for the World Journalism Institute Minority Conference on Thursday. With seven full tables forcing some attendees to stand, the event marked the first partnership between the World Journalism Institute and NABJ.

The WJI, based in New York City at the King’s College, hosts classes for Christian journalists with a mission to “recruit, equip, place and encourage Christians in the world's newsroom.”

Prior to becoming an official partner to the NABJ convention, the World Journalism Institute held conferences at Morehouse College. After being invited to speak at the institute's conference, former NABJ President Herbert Lowe Jr. suggested to Robert Case, the institute's director, to connect itself to NABJ.

"A few years ago he talked to me about how they were looking to get more students to participate in the African-American conference, and I suggested to him, since I was president at the time, that NABJ would be a good place," Lowe said. "A lot of NABJ members grew up believing in faith, and a lot of the things that the World Journalism Institute is offering is how to do journalism with faith not too far from your mind."

In an industry focused on neutrality, Case said, journalists are told to “keep faith in your back pocket.”

"We don't agree with that view,” he said. “Everyone approaches a story with bias. No one can be completely objective."

EvansvilleCourier & Press Editor Mizell Stewart, who was the featured speaker at Thursday's lunch, told the group that there is no such thing as an unbiased journalist.

“Racial and gender diversity, class diversity and diversity by far are necessary if we are going to report on and reflect the issues and concerns of the communities we serve,” he said.

With a few audience members' approving “amens,” the self-proclaimed servant delivered a message that came across at times more like a sermon than a speech.

“God came before Knight Ridder and CNN, and he’ll be here for a long time after that,” Stewart said. “As a servant journalist, I work for God ? don’t you?”

Stewart, who has spoken at a number of World Journalism Institute conferences, said that one message he wanted Christian journalists to take away from attending the luncheon was that it is OK to be “joiners” in areas such as the church.

“We don’t join church. We don’t always get involved and part of what we’re doing here is to let people know that it is OK to have a strong religious faith,” he said. “It is OK to be part of a church community, and it is OK to allow those values to come from the Bible to inform our work as journalists.”

The article was reprinted from nabjconvention.org, and the original can be accessed here.

For more information:

World Journalism Institute