By Grace Powell; originally published in PHC Herald, 18 February 2011.
Patrick Henry College
Dr. Les Sillars, Associate Professor of Journalism
“I’ve been at WORLD now for 12 years and helped them work with young writers in the past, so they thought I’d be a good fit to give it a try,” Sillars said.
The experiment, which will continue until the end of August, provides PHC students the opportunity to write for a national publication and earn a small stipend.
“The purpose of the state and the regional bureaus is both to provide a service for World readers who understand what World does and want more of that on a local level,” Sillars said. “It’s also to draw in readers who haven’t otherwise heard of WORLD and who can be exposed to a biblical world view.”
PHC freshman Alicia Constant writes for World Virginia and sees it as an exciting opportunity to refine and expand her work. “It really is an honor that they would invite students to represent WORLD Magazine,” Constant said.
“It takes a lot of reporting, so it’s not easy journalism to do,” Sillars said. The students gather story ideas from the Associated Press, and they also come up with their own ideas.
“We’re still sorting through how much content we can produce, because students are busy people,” he noted.
Constant says the project has “stretched” her in a good way, observing, “It really has encouraged me to make sure that every piece of copy I produce is completely accurate and top notch.”
Students have thus far covered a variety of local issues like illegal immigration, crime, energy and politics. “We do want to cover the issues that are important to evangelicals and we want to cover social issues like abortion and gay marriage,” Sillars said.
Sillars noted, however, that there is also room in World Virginia for more unusual, intriguing stories. “We want to talk about what’s happening culturally in the state,” he said.
“I think this program is a great idea,” added junior Zachary Abate, another World Virginia reporter. Abate’s family has subscribed to WORLD Magazine for years. “Having specific state news delivered in this manner is a benefit to Virginians,” Abate said, adding that he hopes to be a sports writer some day. “WORLD Magazine is a great stepping stone in my very early career, and I’m excited for the experience.”
At the end of the program, WORLD Magazine editors will assess whether to maintain or expand the program to other states, much of it dependent on the quality of content and on platform’s economic viability. “If the editors are pleased with the quality of the stories and if it seems to be attracting readers, then they will put more resources on it and start some more bureaus,” Sillars said.
WORLD Magazine editors hope World Virginia will attract more readers to both magazines while still making a difference. “We’re hoping we can influence our culture on the state level and not just the national level,” Sillars said.
Check out World Virginia at www.worldmag.com/virginia