One of my favorite memories as an occasional baseball reporter occurred before a game two summers ago in Atlanta. Grizzled Braves manager Bobby Cox stood in the dugout eating peanuts. He cracked open one after another, using the open shells to slide the nuts into his mouth.
Cox kept doing this for 15 minutes as a half-dozen reporters pestered him about the number of rookies in his lineup: "Do you worry about all those untried players? Wouldn't you rather have veterans? Do you like green eggs and ham?" The manager kept saying variations of "No, the rookies are so much fun. I like seeing how they react."
That's how I feel when editing WORLD. Our masthead on page 6 displays a team Bobby Cox would like. Mindy Belz and I, supported by Tim Lamer and Lynn Vincent, are the veteran editors and writers. We also have some senior writers and correspondents with major-league experience; they bat for us occasionally. But our full-time reporters, and most of our part-time correspondents and interns, are young.
We continue to look for adventurous and hard-working young people with a Christian worldview and outstanding writing ability. Developing such reporters takes time and, often, lots of it. So they need three important things: good coaching, a field to play on, and money to pay for all that.
We have the first two but, frankly, we need more of the third. For coaching, we have been running at my home in Austin during recent summers a series of training courses. Young writers with bylines familiar to our regular readers-Jamie and Mark, John and Priya, Kristin and Lynde, Jill and Becky-have gone through it. Other graduates of our training are working for James Dobson or Chuck Colson, or writing for secular publications.
For a practice field, we have our three-year-old Worldmagblog.com. Our interns and young writers gain experience there in dishing out news and views in short, often tightly written segments. They also receive real-game experience, because the interactive nature of a blog attracts fans who both cheer and boo.
For funding, we've set up a nonprofit, educational division, World New Media. I'm not a fundraiser and I've never done this before, but now I'm asking you directly to consider giving a gift to support work that I feel is crucial to the future of Christian journalism.
So far we've run Worldmagblog and our summer course on a shoestring that allows us to train only a few for only a short time. We want to train more over a longer period of time. Your tax-deductible contributions will support interns and will help to expand the blog site. We have big plans: Our goal is to turn our blog into an electronic newsmagazine that is like WORLD in some ways but has its own identity. It could become the place for young Christian journalists (with the supervision of a few veterans) to learn their craft, and for young Christians generally to discuss worldviews and issues.
We see our educational offerings and our developing electronic publication as valuable not only journalistically but evangelistically. We envision the development of a community of, by, and for college students and those in their 20s who can strengthen the faith of the wavering and show how to apply the gospel to every area of life. More and more young people imbibe news and views via the internet. We need to be there.
We know how to educate new journalists to work not only at WORLD (and only a few will get that opportunity) but at other publications and in all kinds of new media. Will you be one of the donors who provides scholarships for the next generation of Christian journalists and contributes to build an electronic publication with the ability to affect millions of young people?
Please consider sending a small or large check that will make a big difference in the lives of young people and the future of Christian journalism.