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World Journalism Institute Students Discuss Journalism as Vocation

June 17th, 2013

By Alicia Constant

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David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

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L to R: Kate Speer, Aimee Stauf, Rachel Aldrich, and Alissa Robertson, PHC journalism majors who attended World Journalism Institute 2013. Photo courtesy Aimee Stauf.

PHC junior Rachel Aldrich was conducting an interview at a school for low-income children near Asheville, N.C., when she overheard a conversation between two girls.

“I hope we’re in the magazine!” one of them exclaimed. “I was on TV once,” she said, and thought about it for a second. “That was when my daddy died.”

“I found out later he had been shot on Christmas Eve,” Aldrich said. “And I was just overwhelmed: How on earth am I expected to research and report on the world we live in?”

At World Journalism Institute (WJI), Aldrich and other young Christian journalists wrestled to define the relationship between Christianity and their chosen vocation in a fallen world.

“We learned that all stories reflect aspects of creation, fall and redemption. Christ’s redemption should shape and define how we see everything,” Aldrich said. “And these Christian reporters weren’t sitting in the back of room saying, ‘Oh, that’s idealistic; we’ve reported on the world and there’s way more to it than that.’ You can tell they still believe it.”

Four Patrick Henry College journalism majors were among the 14 young journalists who attended WJI’s two-week Asheville multimedia convergence course, held May 19-31. Dr. Marvin Olasky, PHC’s Distinguished Chair in Journalism and editor of World Magazine, led the seminar, which included presentations from Indianapolis Star Associate Editor Russell Pulliam, World’s international correspondent Mindy Belz, and other distinguished writers.

Journalism “Boot Camp”

 
 

WJI student looks through archives of the New York Times. Photo courtesy Aimee Stauf.

WJI students completed four weeks of pre-course writing and reading and two weeks of intensive classroom training in Asheville, N.C. Seminars began at 9 a.m., Monday through Saturday. Writing, video editing, and re-writing projects would sometimes stretch until midnight on weekdays.

“It was tough,” said PHC junior Kate Speer. “A lot of us called it journalism boot camp.”

By the end of the course, each participant had created and polished two radio projects, two articles, a photo slide show, and a video project. Students would go out on the streets of Asheville, looking for stories and places to record sound and film.

“WJI really helped me conquer my fears and forced me into situations where I had to learn and adapt quickly,” Speer said. “But, God taught me that I was doing what he's called me to do. I’m supposed to be a journalist, and I love what I do.”

Even amid strict deadlines and intense writing, the students found time to build relationships by making dinners together, watching movies, hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains during free time, and enjoying downtown Asheville.

“By the end of ‘journalism boot camp,’ we were all like family,” Speer said.

Junior Aimee Stauf enjoyed the variety of people that she met and interviewed: from a Hungarian woman who came to the United States in 1990 and opened a pastry shop with her husband, to wandering street musicians who travelled the country in a beat-up van: “Every time they got a flat tire, they would get out and play on the side of the road until they got enough money to fix the flat,” Stauf laughed.

“WJI reminded me of those things that make me enjoy journalism: being curious, seeing people as interesting, being willing to find the best way to communicate the things you’re learning,” Stauf said. “God made a world that is beautiful, and He made people who are beautiful. It is the job of a journalist to present all people in the image of God, realizing that the fall has led people to do horrible things, but also looking for redemption.”

 
 

WJI 2013 attendees. Photo courtesy Aimee Stauf.

For more information, visit the WJI website.