More is to come

Don't forget journalism's future in your year-end giving

Issue: "Top 100 Books 1999," Dec. 4, 1999

Several times every year, I'm assigned the happy task of sitting down for several hours to consult with the young staff members of campus newspapers from various colleges and high schools. Our conversation naturally focuses on the practice of journalism. But I try never to forget to remind them that they have two important duties: First, to put out the very best paper possible for their school community. And second, to lay good groundwork so that the students who inherit their jobs next year will be able to produce an even better paper. The second task is always harder than the first-but it may also be the most important. It's easier for a talented athlete to make the play than it is to show someone else how to make the play. It may be easier to be a good parent yourself than to prepare your child to be a good parent. It's easier to control the company's budget yourself than it is to teach everyone in the company the wise use of money. It's a lesson we're also trying to take seriously here at WORLD magazine. I'm nearly 14 years older than I was when we launched this magazine-and I'd be presumptuous indeed to think I'll still be going strong 14 years from now. The rest of the team may not be aging as fast as I am, but it's still crucial to ask: Who's warming up to carry on? You might be surprised at how big and well developed the answer to that question already is. It's been just one year since we announced here the launch of the "WORLD Journalism Institute," and it's time now both to report on WJI's well-being and to ask for your help in extending its work. We told you a year ago that we were looking for 20 qualified students to enroll in an intensive four-week program in Asheville, N.C. (preceded by reading a dozen assigned books). Then we would follow up the classroom experience with several months of individualized critique of a variety of writing assignments. How would we measure our success? Managing editor Nick Eicher said it for us all: "If we can get one WORLD-class reporter and writer out of this, it will be worthwhile," he said. By the time classes were scheduled to start late last July, we had just over 70 applicants. We accepted 25 and then enrolled 23 of them, from a wonderful diversity of backgrounds that included both Christian and secular colleges and universities, think tanks and advocacy groups, and even two medical doctors who wanted to learn more about this kind of journalism. Under the leadership of WJI's director, Robert Case, this group of students listened, learned, talked, wrote, revised, read, researched, argued, and interviewed their way from July well into August. They heard Marvin Olasky, Nick Eicher, David Freeland, Gene Edward Veith, and more than a dozen others from the WORLD team (and beyond) describe their various tasks and skills. They digested both the philosophy of journalism and its nuts and bolts. They also picnicked and whitewater rafted. Have you noticed the result? Already, WORLD is featuring their work. At least two recent major stories have included heavy-lifting research by WJI students, and our Nov. 20 issue included five separate stories with WJI bylines. More is to come. That's the line to remember: More is to come! Because of World Journalism Institute, the distinctive kind of reporting you've come to expect from WORLD magazine won't die out soon. Nor, with a couple dozen students gathering each summer to sharpen their focus and hone their skills, will such journalism die out a generation from now. Indeed, through WJI, WORLD can expect to replenish and expand its own staff-and also to send out to other Christian organizations and to the secular media as well competent young journalists to be salt and light throughout our society. WJI director Bob Case has a big vision. Already, he is talking with Christian colleges about letting WJI serve as their journalism departments. Besides next summer's program, he is planning a weekend conference in February for college students and another in March for high-school journalists. WJI has its own website, www.worldji.com, through which applications for next summer's program are already being processed. All of which means: More is to come! I know of no cause I can more enthusiastically endorse for a generous part of your 1999 year-end giving. In earlier years, I used this space regularly to encourage your tax-deductible gift to WORLD itself, and such gifts are still welcome to help this magazine grow in quality and outreach. But for you readers who ask, "Isn't my subscription enough?," I urge you also to think about the years ahead. WORLD magazine's 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. WORLD Journalism Institute exists to keep both vision and skills sharp for the years ahead. For each gift for WJI received before Dec. 31, we'll be happy to send you a receipt for your tax records and a copy of either Marvin Olasky's Telling the Truth or Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey's new How Now Shall We Live? Be sure to indicate which book you want, when you send your gift to my personal attention at Box 2330, Asheville, NC 28802. It's a super investment, allowing you to predict with confidence: More is still to come.

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Joel Belz
Joel Belz

Joel, WORLD's founder, writes a regular column for the magazine and contributes commentaries for The World and Everything in It. He is also the author of Consider These Things.

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