Today we saw the sun, the scent of freshly cut grass replaced the scent of rain from yesterday and for the latter bit we got to enjoy the fresh air.
At lunch, the big screen in the cafeteria provided an informative look at the history and business sides of WORLD Magazine as we Skyped Joel Belz, the founder, and Kevin Martin, the CEO. Afterwards, we learned about radio journalism from Paul Butler and one of my personal favorites, Nick Eicher, Executive Producer of WORLD Radio.
Radio journalism, as Eicher explained, is vastly different from the print journalism we have been working on for most of our time here up to now. Getting to know this different world of simple sentences, 'normal' words, and recording every little part of an interview was not only interesting, but entertaining thanks to our great speakers.
Didn't you know there's a difference between sound and noise? We learned this the hard way as a jackhammer pummeled the ground in the construction zone just outside of the wall of the classroom, distracting us from class. Apparently, this is considered 'noise', whereas 'sound' is anything that was useful to the purpose of a story (or in this case, lesson).
After dinner, we spent time practicing our up-and-coming photo skills around the town. The twenty-eight of us flooded the small town with cameras and invaded every corner to capture every person, place, and item with any kind of visual story from every possible angle. Our photo-editing skills are now coming along as well; stay tuned for the results!
As we wind down in the common area, the sun has gone down, but we hope it will be back in even more force tomorrow as we collect stories and photos from the local businesses and shops.
WJI began with a scene from The Right Stuff, in which a gutsy World War II fighter pilot is approached about his interest to conduct a risky test flight to break the sound barrier. Chuck Yeager’s famous flight acts as a metaphor of journalists pushing through obstacles that seem impenetrable at first.
We then compared WORLD’s style guide to NPR’s, examining the different language used when writing on abortion. Marvin also gave a neat aside on his brief interview with Michael Jordan during the White Sox spring training camp.
We also discussed the effects of biblical objectivity on modern journalism. If objectivity cannot be completely attained by humans, then who is the ultimate authority? God. Also, how are Christian journalists supposed to go about their work in the secular workforce? The short answer is to abide by organizational codes until they interfere with your faith.
Another session focused on THAWing, which is WORLD’s acronym for effective journalism: Thinking, Hunting, Analyzing, Writing. This method reveals just how many steps precede the action of putting your pen to the paper. We then revisited our Tulip Festival pieces, sharpening the focus and finding details that support it.
Marvin finished off the morning session by walking the class through the latest issue of WORLD’s magazine.
Confined to a couple of buildings due to an Iowa deluge, 28 WJI students put into practice photography techniques they learned in the classroom. We roamed the near-empty campus of Dordt University, looking for any object or location that would reveal a good angle.
A few of us meandered through the sterile-white halls in the science building. We found a workshop full of electronics, wood, and assorted tools. What better spot to take some staged portraits?
We soon went to the Campus Center, grabbing shots of our friends in the winding hallways on the way. The rooms, often lit only by natural light, provided an excellent opportunity to work on some of the things photography instructor Tiffany Owens showed us that afternoon. The handful of administrators working today gave us confused glances. Needless to say, those looks didn't necessarily disappear after we explained our mission for photos.
The day ended with an engaging crash course in basic filmography with Dordt's Mike Volkers. We'll be putting all of our lessons with photography and filming to good work in the upcoming days by exploring some untold stories of Sioux Center, Iowa.
Each morning the 28 of us students here at WJI first meet having breakfast in the bent rectangle of the West Hall kitchenette.
Everyone wanders in, one by one, to the kitchen to make themselves breakfast. We talk about the weather while sifting through the cereal stash. We bump into each other playing refrigerator Jenga trying to find the right milk jug. We talk about what is coming up for the day while drinking our coffee, tea or strawberry smoothies around the large rectangular table.
The pyramid of dripping dishes beside the counter grows and shrinks as we recycle the dishes between us. A few more mugs from Goodwill are in order to help us all wake up a bit faster, but there’s enough disposable cups.
The table is strewn with a green plastic cup and a white Styrofoam, one reminds us that most everyone finished eating already. It is time to leave the bustle of the kitchen and hustle through the rain to the lecture room.