Mid-Career Course #9: For future part-time WORLD correspondents
Jan 4, 2017 - Jan 10, 2017
This 6-day course in Austin, Texas, is for mid-career WORLD readers seeking the opportunity to write occasionally for the magazine, website, or radio show. Marvin and Susan Olasky provide hands-on training in reporting, writing, and rewriting.
- Who can apply?
- Required Reading
- Required Items
- Pre-Class Writing
- Class Component - Calendar
The 9th WORLD mid-career course provides intensive training in reporting and writing magazine, website, and radio stories from a Christian worldview. It is not for those whose goal is to write columns, op. eds., devotionals, exegetical essays, memoirs, fiction, or poetry. The course emphasizes pavement-pounding, phone-calling, document-reading reporting, and writing with strong verbs and nouns in the active voice. The class meets from , with time off for meals but no time off for good behavior: Halfway through the course comes the Sabbath, a day of rest. Students during the course of the week research and write five potentially publishable pieces— general news story, specialty news story, part of a feature story, book review, and television review—plus two others. Venue: the Olasky living room 4106 Firstview Drive, Austin, TX 78731.
Tuition is free, but students are responsible for their own transportation, lodging (cost ranges from $50 to $150 per night), and meal expenses. Six breakfasts and five lunches provided for a cost of $40.
What to expect
Only those prepared to absorb tough criticism of their writing should attend. The course will also touch on the history and theology of Christian journalism. It provides basic training for WORLD members who desire to improve their writing and perhaps become World News Group correspondents who report on news developments within their field of experience. It does not lead to full-time WORLD work.
Experience of previous mid-career students
The mid-career writing course expanded my horizons: it taught me to write in new ways, for different audiences, and on topics that need attention from a Christian world view. Sometimes a well-meaning amateur tries to coach your batting swing or tennis serve and ends up disrupting your natural rhythm so badly that you can’t even hit the ball! The mid-career writing course had an opposite effect: coaching by experienced writers sharpened my skills and led to opportunities that I had never anticipated. — Jesse Yow
I draw from what I learned at the mid-career course on a weekly basis. It was a practical exercise in how to think, write, and edit like a journalist. As a small class, we walked through each step of writing and were able to make mistakes, correct them, throw out ideas, and bounce questions off expert journalists. The mountain of journalism became a hill I could climb because of the mid-career course. — Kiley Crossland
I loved the classes and found the seminar to be very helpful. I especially enjoyed being able to critique each other's writing and do the line by line editing together. The hands-on experience was unbeatable. — Julie Borg
WORLD’s mid-career course is fantastic! The course content is outstanding, but even more valuable is the opportunity to learn from one of the Christian world’s most experienced journalists and editors. I gained tremendous confidence through the–fearful–process of Olasky-led group edits. Watching clunky first drafts forged again and again into tight, bracing prose transformed my writing and inspired me to greater success as a writer. I was also impressed by the high-caliber students in the course, men and women who loved the Lord and were serious about improving their craft. Make every effort to attend this course - you won’t be disappointed! — David Sonju
It was immensely helpful for me to be publicly edited and educated at the same time during the course. — Rob Holmes
My prior opinion about World's high regard for truth and clear understanding of the journalist's calling were confirmed. The week flew by and sometimes it felt like drinking from a fire hose, but I managed to hang onto a number of the pearls that Marvin and Susan so graciously shared with us. Best of all, I have been given the opportunity to write on a regular basis for WNG. I must be making progress, because my word processing program rarely corrects my spelling and grammar anymore.— Mark Russell
History of WJI Courses
Many people these days are talking about the usefulness of "citizen journalists," but that practice has a long history within American Christianity. In 1681 a general meeting of Massachusetts ministers resolved that each should be a correspondent, with the responsibility to "enquire diligently into, and Record such Illustrious Providences as have happened" in their towns including "Tempests, Floods, Earthquakes, Thunders as are unusual...Remarkable Judgements upon noted Sinners; eminent Deliverances, and Answers of Prayer."
Over the next 150 years volunteer correspondents worked alongside editors. In 1830, according to observers, three-fourths of American newspapers and magazines were explicitly Christian. That changed over the next few decades as editors often embraced Transcendentalism and "freethought." In the 20th century, theological and political liberalism came to dominate the press.
Today, the World News Group (magazine, websites, radio) reports God's illustrious providences for the benefit of more than 500,000 readers and listeners. World Magazine is largely staff-written, with fulltime reporters in New York, Washington, Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, and part-timers elsewhere, but our website makes ample use of mid-career correspondents, and our goal in this course is to find and begin to train a new group.
Housing possibilities range from $50 to $150 per night. Meal package of six breakfasts, five lunches costs $40. Dinners on your own.
What to bring
Wifi enabled laptop with a gmail account
Marvin Olasky is editor in chief of the World News Group, dean of the World Journalism Institute, and holder of the Distinguished Chair in Journalism and Public Policy at Patrick Henry College. He worked at The Boston Globe, taught at the University of Texas at Austin from 1983 through 2007, and was provost of The King's College in New York City from 2007 to 2011. He joined WORLD in 1990.
Dr. Olasky has written 20 books, including The Religions Next Door, Standing for Christ in a Modern Babylon, Scimitar's Edge, Renewing American Compassion, Telling the Truth, Central Ideas in the Development of American Journalism, The Press and Abortion, Prodigal Press, and The Tragedy of American Compassion, which Philanthropy magazine deemed one of "eight books that changed America." He has written more than 3,000 articles in publications including WORLD, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, and has degrees from the University of Michigan and Yale University.
Susan Olasky is a senior writer for WORLD, for which she produces radio stories, book reviews, and lifestyle features. A graduate of the University of Michigan with a master's degree in public policy, she founded the Austin Crisis Pregnancy Center in 1984 and has co-authored articles opposing abortion along with a book, More Than Kindness: A Compassionate Approach to Crisis Childbearing. She was a columnist for the West Austin News during the 1990s. The Olaskys have four sons, one daughter-in-law, and one grandbaby.
Susan Olasky is also the author of eight historical novels for children and is an assistant professor at Patrick Henry College, where she and Marvin Olasky supervise WORLD interns and interview newsmakers in front of students. On September 22, 2006, an $800 Jeopardy clue - "Susan Olasky has written a kids' series about the adventures of Annie, daughter of this fiery Virginia orator" - was a triple stumper.
Who can apply?
Anyone from age 27 to age 72 with a record of accomplishment and a desire to write for a World News Group publication or broadcast. We want correspondents in each of the 50 largest metropolitan areas and are 2/3 of the way there. We're also looking for correspondents who can write about the specialty areas they know well through their professional experience. Applicants with published articles and/or radio experience welcome.
WORLD Policyguide and other readings, emailed to those accepted to the class
Strunk and White: The Elements of Style
Prodigal Press, vailable at amazon.com and elsewhere.
Wifi-enabled laptop. We'll all be looking at student writing on Google Docs, so every student should have a free gmail account and know how Google Docs works.
Dress Code: Casual
1. Biblical objectivity
2. The rapids method of applying Scripture to current cultural and public policy issues
3. Journalistic humility
4. Redemptive but not public relations conclusions
1. Writing with active verbs, concrete nouns, and active rather than passive voice.
2. Structural and line-by-line self-editing and editing.
3. Story telling with protagonists, missions, antagonisms
4. Up and down the ladder of abstraction: streets, not suites
An obituary of a major figure: Admitted students will receive a list of famous elderly people. We will edit those on the first day of class. After editing, the obituary will be kept until the time God decides, and then published on the WORLD website.
Free tuition, but you should take into account the cost of travel to Austin, food, lodging, and perhaps car rental, if other students don't have cars. Applicants admitted to the course will receive an email about housing options: Olasky house (three bedrooms available, with costs ranging from $50 to $100 per night), a nearby house across the street (two bedrooms available at $100 per night), and hotels (many about five miles away, with prices ranging from $70 to $200).
Class Component - Calendar
|9:00||pair interviews||intro to obits and worldviews||
worldviews and news stories
|editing stories, reviews||
individual meetings and writing wrap-up
|1:00||story elements: PAMO, haiku||feature story reporting in Austin||writing||rewriting news stories features||editing stories, reviews|
|3:00||ladder of abstracion editing||Austin||editing broken windows||writing||World News Group needs||THIS IS A ROUGH SCHEDULE|
|4:00||WORLD Style||discussion||intro to AP||discussion||beats|
|5:00||free time, dinner on your own||free time, dinner on your own||free time, dinner on your own||free time, dinner on your own||free time, dinner on your own|
|7:00||movie to review||write first draft of features||reading and writing||reading and writing||
book reviews due