Voices
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Eyes to see, ears to hear

A changing media industry is propelling WORLD over the air

Issue: "Food stamps surge," Nov. 19, 2011

I'm spending much of my time these days in a padded room. Journalism industry turmoil has driven me to it.

Now that I have your attention: The room is a cramped broadcast studio and the padding is acoustic treatment. It's where a new member of the WORLD team-senior broadcast producer Joseph Slife-and I record our new weekly radio news magazine, "The World and Everything in It."

Over the past three years, I've described in this space-my near-year-end fundraising appeal-the creative destruction that is reshaping journalism: dramatic newsroom staff reductions (2008), media bankruptcies (2009), and urgent building of new platforms to deliver content (2010). Multi-platform journalism is the new normal.

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As these trends reshape journalism, and thanks to your generous financial partnership, WORLD has responded by transforming from news magazine to news group. Since last November we have rolled out our digital content platform, which enables distribution of our content through apps (such as our iPad app) to mobile devices. We have introduced two new editions of our God's World News magazines for kids (gwnews.com).

We have also launched WORLD on Campus (worldoncampus.com) for student writers and readers. We are venturing into journalism training in Africa through the World Journalism Institute, which has added WORLD editor-in-chief Marvin Olasky's leadership to its robust new training regime for young journalists and mid-career professionals looking for a change.

But padded rooms, microphones, and digital recorders represent our most visual-well, auditory-change. I've dreamed of something like this since I was a kid, and in God's providence it took two decades of magazine experience to bring it about. That's not as strange as it may seem: The journalistic depth we have here at WORLD makes great radio possible, because without great reporting, it's just talk.

Partnering with the Salem Radio Network, "The World and Everything in It" (TW&E) debuted the first weekend of August and, with ads, fills a two-hour commercial radio time slot. We edit 20 minutes out of that program and provide a one-hour edition for noncommercial affiliates. The entire program, minus ads, is available via podcast at worldandeverything.com. TW&E started on 24 stations in August and expanded thanks to the Good News Network and others. This month, with the addition of the Bott Radio Network, whose stations account for half our affiliates, our program is now heard on 180 stations. We're in five of the top 10 markets (Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta) and 23 of the top 100.

The program showcases reports from our "print" team: Editor Mindy Belz and correspondents Lee Pitts, Jill Nelson, and Warren Smith have all written and recorded in-depth news pieces. Listeners have benefited from "The Olasky Interview," Marvin's regular live-audience question-and-answer session with political leaders such as Herman Cain and U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, and authors such as Ann Voskamp. TW&E has also included commentary by founder Joel Belz and senior writer Andrée Seu, along with culture reviews from correspondents Megan Basham, Arsenio Orteza, and Susan Olasky.

We are striving to build around this core a team that can produce TW&E as a daily news magazine-WORLD's answer to National Public Radio's (NPR) "All Things Considered." We want to provide daily audio, video, and print journalism for distribution over the air, on the web, and inside digital apps, even as we continue to strengthen the print magazine.

We're doing this because audio provides great opportunity. The Project for Excellence in Journalism notes that of traditional media, "The audience for AM/FM radio has remained among the most stable ... in the last decade." Even in a fractured media market, fully a third of all Americans get their news via radio. The audience for NPR, for instance, grew last year to more than 27 million listeners a week, a nearly 60 percent rise in a decade. Leftist financier George Soros' interest in and support of NPR is clearly strategic.

I speak for the WORLD family in thanking God and you for the outpouring of financial support for this vision. It's an ongoing work and we need your ongoing partnership. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational ministry, so contributions to WORLD are tax-deductible. The changes reshaping journalism represent an opportunity for our brand of Christian worldview journalism. If you sense a call to become a WORLD Mover, I hope you'll think and pray about being part of this exciting future. Please visit our secure online donation page.

Email: neicher@worldmag.com

Nick Eicher
Nick Eicher

Nick lives in St. Louis, loves the Blues (as in the NHL), is executive producer of WORLD Radio, and co-hosts WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickEicher.

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