WJI Blog 2022, May 25 AM - Summarizing a 12-Hour Workday

  • 25 May, 2022

A text message woke me up. It was my mom’s daily “Good Morning” text, bringing a smile to my half-awake face. We talked for a bit. I filled her in on the day’s schedule and how I was feeling. “I’m tired,” I croaked. After all, I had been working, on average, for 12 hours a day for 5 days straight.

Around 8:30am, we finished our call. I set down my phone and walked over to my dresser.

“What do I wear?”

I decided on a dress, even though the weather wasn’t necessarily appropriate for it. I considered our upcoming press conference, simulating remarks and questions about an upcoming Supreme Court case regarding freedom of speech. Afterwards, the lawyers explained what they liked about out questions and what we could improve on.

We then focused on Biblical Objectivity during our Les Sillars lecture from 10am to 12pm. He taught that, as Christian journalists, we not only strive for actuate, impartial stories, but also stories that are morally sound.

Lunch was exciting! Dordt President Hoekstra and his wife, Dr. Barb Hoekstra, joined us. Our conversations consisted of the typical getting to know you questions. “What’s your name? Where are you from? Do you have any siblings?” Towards the end, Mr. Hoekstra spoke about his time at Dordt and how he convinced Professor Pitts to move to Iowa. He recalled his excitement when Professor Pitts asked if the WJI program could move from Asheville, North Carolina to Dordt University.

After lunch, the delirium kicked it. I think food does that to you. Forcing my eyes to stay open, Professor Sillars reviewed the principles of concise writing. He explained many editors give new journalists three chances to correct spelling grammar, and inconsistent structure. Every publication has it’s own stylebook mainly for consistency in writing style (I see a pattern here). Basically, if you’re not consistent, your story will come across as unsound or confusing.

Myrna Brown’s lecture about broadcasting explained how stand-ups add another element to your story. If you don’t cater to your audience or choose a location that doesn’t match your story, then your story won’t make as large of an impact.

The news huddle is always entertaining. We played “Guess Who,” which is an ice breaker/getting-to-know-you game where we match fun facts to people in the class. Then, Mr. Pitts dressed up as Robin, Batman’s sidekick, to talk about the obituaries we wrote before arriving to WJI.

My favorite part of WJI are the professors and experts who willingly share their knowledge with us. During group editing exercises, they point out areas of improvement but also tell us what we did well.

To be honest, 12-hour workdays sound extremely difficult. But I’d say my experience with WJI, so far, has taught me that hard things are often the best learning experiences. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the program plays out.

- Evie Holland

WJI Blog 2022, May 24 AM - Real World Experience

  • 24 May, 2022

No one at the World Journalism Institute fears hard work. Many of us delve into stories at our student publications and possess an unmatched curiosity about the world around us. Student journalists are drawn to WJI because of the promise to provide a two-week experience rich with learning. Tuesday Morning, WJI started to make good on that promise.

ADF counsel lawyers Jake Warner and Bryan Neihart hosted a mock press conference about the upcoming Supreme Court case, 303 Creative vs. Elenis. The case concerns a wedding website designer and whether she is allowed to express her religious beliefs against same-sex marriage. WJI students asked both sides questions about the implications of the law.

To me, asking the lawyers questions was intimidating. I wondered if my questions were intelligent enough to be asked and fought to scrape by with two answers. Our performances were critiqued, and advice was given from ADF lawyers about our questions and what we needed to do better.

Professor Les Sillars, a journalism professor at Patrick Henry College, took charge of the last session of the day. He discussed objectivity in the newsroom and its origins. Sillars challenged many of my previous beliefs on bias in the media, and it was helpful to hear various perspectives.

One does not simply become a great journalist overnight. It takes countless rewrites, long nights, many failed drafts, and gradual progress. WJI prepares student journalists for real world deadlines and real-world stories so that they can be prepared for whatever comes their way.

- Amanda Davis

WJI Blog 2022, May 24 PM - The Threshold From Surviving to Thriving

  • 24 May, 2022

Do you know what’s an amazing feeling? Being pushed past your limits and not only surviving but thriving. I can speak from experience— you feel like Superman. Or maybe Clark Kent would be a better example in this case. Either way, being given way more than I think I can handle and then handling it feels great.

Okay, I do need to be fair here; if WJI was making me do US Marine training that might be a more accurate description of “pushing me past my limits”. I am person who loves to write. I am at a journalism course. It’s my element. But, if someone told me to write an eight-hundred-and-fifty-word-piece trying to sum up an incredible person’s story in one hour, before yesterday I would have flatly said it wasn’t possible. Turns out, it is.

I came into WJI expecting to be pushed and the fact that I’m being pushed is no surprise. But expecting something to be a lot more intense than I’m used to and actually going through that are two different things.

And, really, that’s the point.

It’s our third full class day and I already significantly more confident in my ability to perform under pressure. It’s a simple equation: when someone expects you to do something with the true belief that you can do it— you find a way to do it. It takes a lot of prayer, panic, and sympathetic shoulders to cry on for the thirteen spare seconds that I don’t have before I need to get writing— but it does get done.

But expectations are only part of it; beyond expectation there’s God. That may be what stuck with me most today— how clinging to God can get me through what I can’t get through myself.

See, yesterday I felt like Superman, today I felt more like Superman’s little brother (if the Kents had a biological child without superpowers). It’s discouraging to have an ‘off’ day, particularly when everyone around you feels like a journalism Superman (or Clark Kent). I’d take yesterday’s stress over today’s discouragement any day. But the humblest moments—when I don’t feel like Superman, are when God does the most.

The WJI instructors have many lessons to teach me these next eleven days and so does God. I pray I’m open to learning all of them.

- Koryn Koch

WJI Blog 2022, May 23 AM - Sanctification and Journalism

  • 23 May, 2022

Seeing Mr. Pulliam’s face appear on the Zoom call was a welcome grace for my Monday morning. After reading Mr. Pulliam’s gracious comments on my articles time and time again, it was encouraging to finally put a face to the feedback.

But as he began to talk, I was struck by how generally useful his advice was - to keep a journal, read classic Christian biographies and find individuals who did heroic things to learn about. He really emphasized the importance of knowing the Bible well in order to be a good journalist, telling us that, “Great research is rooted in good Bible reading.”

I think that’s something I’m realizing more and more about this program - our instructors aren’t just good journalists, they are people serious about their faith, and that’s not by coincidence.

The day before, we watched Spotlight, and afterward I was talking to my boyfriend and I told him that the movie kind of scared me - to do journalism well is hard and important work. His advice was that I should, “be more afraid of God if you shrink back from declaring what is true and exposing what is dark.”

So as Mr. Pulliam spoke, the truth struck home - I need God’s transforming power to make me a good journalist. It’s not just a matter of discipline or motivation or writing talent. It’s a matter of pursuing truth for God’s sake and pursuing God more and more so that my work reflects Him. I should chase down people who devoted their lives to following Him and learn from them.

That’s why I came here from Canada - to learn how to honour God in my writing. And Mr. Pulliam helped me see a little better how I can do just that.

- Anna Mandin