Tweakings

Notes on a few changes within the magazine

Issue: "Warner: First things first," Feb. 12, 2000

Every couple of years we shake up WORLD a bit, as part of our continued drive to serve and cover not only the church but the world at large. We're Christocentric but not Christians-centric. We emphasize that all our stories are informed by a Christian worldview, but our calling is to communicate with Jews, Muslims, atheists, and others, as well as with Christians. We reject the idea that Christian-run magazines should aim for the Christian ghetto. We want to reach the world with biblically directed reporting.

To emphasize our thrust toward newsiness, with this issue we are changing the structure of the magazine. We will often have a short cover story close to the front, reflecting a major development during the days before our Thursday deadline. We are expanding our front section of current items and including a new feature, "Faces," that spotlights individuals who have made recent, positive contributions. Since so many of the battles going on in American society, even in this political season, are cultural in nature, we're moving our culture coverage closer to the front of the magazine. We'll continue our movie, video, book, and music pages, which in chart form show the products and messages Americans (not just or mainly Christians) are consuming.

We still plan to have commentaries by Andree Seu, Janie Cheaney, and others, but we'll run them sometimes near the back of the magazine and at other times integrate those deeper analyses into the main part of the magazine, putting them under the occasional heading of "Judgment Calls." We'll still have major reporting stories, like this week's on the New Hampshire primary, along with coverage of international hot spots. Joel Belz's column will conclude the first section of the magazine, and my column the second.

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Our drive to communicate Bible-based understanding to general readers has also led to a few changes in names. For several years some of our headings, such as "Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick," have been tributes to the hard-hitting, Puritan pioneers of American journalism. Men like Benjamin Harris, John Peter Zenger, and Samuel Adams fought with their pens corrupt leaders, and also pinned down the false prophets who condoned evil in high places.

We still honor and aspire to be like our predecessors. If you want to read more about WORLD's philosophy and theirs, please check out our website (www.worldmag.com) and take a look at the book first published in 1995 that we've posted there, Telling the Truth: How to Revitalize Christian Journalism. But with new readers and homeschoolers frequently asking why we commit the apparent blunder of spelling "Publick" and "Domestick" with a "k"-that was the name, "k" and all, of the first American newspaper, published in 1690-we're changing the name to "The Buzz."

In general, we're trying to omit Christian jargon from WORLD articles. For example, our Jan. 15 cover story originally used the term tentmakers. But, since non-Christians (and some Christians) don't know that the word describes missionaries who earn a living from their business pursuits and so do not need to solicit support or rely on offerings, we reworked a paragraph to avoid giving non-Christian subscribers the sense of being second-class readers.

Some passages will require tough calls from managing editor Nick Eicher and myself, but the basic rule is to make our worldview clear without creating unnecessary stumbling blocks. Here's an easy example: If seven people are killed in the crash of a small plane, we won't headline the story, "Four Christians die," as if the other deaths are unimportant. Questions of coverage, with our limited staff, are tougher. If I need to choose between covering a problem at a small, little-known evangelical college, and another problem at a national educational leader, I'll probably assign a reporter to the bigger story, while regretting not being able to dive into the other.

One thing that won't change is our commitment to biblical objectivity. By that I mean our resolve to do the best we can, as limited and fallen sinners, to present a view of the world as it really is-and that means trying to see things through Bible-oriented eyes. What God calls good we will try to call good, and what He calls evil we will not describe in neutral terms. Our reporters are trained to show rather than tell, describe rather than lecture, but every article in WORLD is an opinion piece in one form or another. We pray that our opinions reflect God's.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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