Assembling an interesting and high-quality issue of WORLD every week and then getting it in the mail to you is a significant and complex challenge. It wouldn't happen without an outstanding team of quality people with a dozen different gifts and skills and operating from a dozen different sites.
Really now, a dozen? Well, count them: Reporters, writers, editors, researchers, proofreaders, accountants, customer service representatives, designers, computer experts, ad salesmen, printers, and mailers. (There are more.) And they work here in Asheville, N.C., in Austin, Texas, in St. Louis, Mo., in Washington, D.C., in Tyler, Texas, in Carrollton, Ga., in Laguna Hills, Calif., in Colorado Springs, Colo., in Greensboro, N.C., in Cedarburg, Wis., in Arlington, Va., and in Cincinnati, Ohio.
So with all that complexity, what do I as publisher see as the greatest threat to WORLD's ultimate future effectiveness as a magazine?
The biggest threat has little to do either with the expertise of all these gifted people or with coordinating their gifts and personalities across many miles. Our biggest threat is exactly the same as that which threatens any mission-driven organization. It is that somewhere down the road-and usually sooner rather than later-we will lose track of our vision.
It happens regularly, you know, to colleges and universities and theological seminaries and to political parties and to charitable foundations and to missions organizations. But it happens also, believe it or not, to less ideologically driven entities like corporations and neighborhoods and even families. Ideas that once characterized particular gatherings of people become less and less important and ultimately fall by the wayside. The Bible suggests it's a typical pattern of human nature.
So it's with that pattern in view that WORLD magazine is announcing here the beginning next summer of a new program designed to resist and delay that whole tendency to lose sight of this organization's ultimate purpose and mission. Our board of directors has approved the first "WORLD Journalism Institute"-a four-week, intensive exposure for 20 carefully selected students to help them pursue throughout their lives and their careers the kind of journalism WORLD believes is important.
A few of those participants, we hope, will ultimately join us on the WORLD staff. Others will carry that vision into diverse journalistic settings-some with explicitly Christian publications and some that tend to be more secular.
Next summer's program, set for July 25-Aug. 20, will feature a number of WORLD's own highly qualified staff of more than a dozen people-including classes by editor Marvin Olasky-and several noteworthy outside lecturers. The program is being personally coordinated by one of our able board members, Robert Case of Ellensburg, Wash. Mr. Case recently ended a long career as co-owner of a real estate company in Ellensburg, but he is also an adjunct philosophy professor at Central State Washington University in that city. And he serves as chairman of the advisory board of the Francis Schaeffer Institute at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis.
The program that Mr. Case has assembled for next summer ranges from courses in Christian worldview thinking to hands-on instruction in journalistic practice. Students who complete all four weeks will get good exposure to some of the problems encountered while developing a Christian philosophy of journalism. But on the other hand, they will also learn some of the details of writing a strong lead paragraph and of the economics of publishing and the challenges of selling advertising. The program will be rich and comprehensive.
Next summer's program must be funded with resources over and above what WORLD itself can afford. Students will be asked to pay for tuition, room, and board-but WORLD is eager to find the right 20 students, the ones who give evidence of being able to profit most from the program, and then to provide scholarship assistance for those who almost certainly won't be able to afford the standard fees.
So I want to ask you to consider including that scholarship program in your 1998 year-end giving. For the first 10 years of its history, WORLD regularly asked readers like you for gifts just to keep the magazine alive. That, we rejoice to tell you, is no longer necessary.
But keeping the vision of WORLD alive in years to come depends directly on our ability to find and develop a host of visionary staff people for the future. The "WORLD Journalism Institute" will provide a bridge to that future-both here at WORLD and in other Christian and secular settings where qualified journalists will be needed in the years ahead.
I think some WORLD readers will be so attracted to this vision that they will want to participate with gifts of $500, $1,000, or even more. I hope many of you will send gifts of $25, $50, or $100 (please use the envelope inserted in this week's issue). WORLD is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, and all such gifts are tax deductible; you will receive an appropriate receipt.
We'll also see that you get a copy of Marvin Olasky's book Telling the Truth, which is being used more and more widely as a journalism textbook by Christian colleges across the country. It will give you the flavor of the institute next summer, and who knows? Maybe you'll end up as a student one of these years.