Be Not Afraid

Marvin Olasky
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Posted: Dec 08, 2015 12:01 AM
Be Not Afraid

“Hear this, all peoples! Give ear, all inhabitants of the world, both low and high, rich and poor together!”

That first verse of Psalm 49 could start off every issue of WORLD, because that’s our goal: We’re delighted to have 80,000 members, most of whom are evangelicals, but we’d like more people in churches to read us, and the unchurched as well. We know how to get more readers—rent more email lists, have booths at more conferences—but we primarily use our financial resources to serve our existing members by continuing to improve our magazine, website, podcast, and journalism courses.

That’s a constant challenge, and as editor in chief I have to confess my tendency to covet at times the resources of “Time.” Members send us tips on stories worth investigating, but often we have to pass them by because a full-scale investigation would take more staff time than we can afford: Our magazine has only nine full-time editors and reporters, and our website and podcast together have only that many as well.

Still, “Time” used to be fat with articles and ads, but now it’s thin, and its circulation has fallen enormously. “Time” still has more readers than WORLD, but our readership increased slightly this year, which is great news these days in journalism. And what Psalm 49 says about individuals is true about media empires too: “Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. For when he dies he will carry nothing away.”

As other news organizations slump, we’re adding new elements. We now review children’s books in every issue, because that’s valuable to the parents and grandparents among our members. Our daily half-hour podcast, “The World and Everything in It,” includes features on everything from the changing ideas of courtship to the Supreme Court’s ever-changing view of the Constitution. We’ve also expanded our coverage of China, and we’re intensifying our presidential campaign coverage. (Psalm 49 describes well the debates: Some “trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches,” while others “have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts.”)

Some things haven’t changed. We still want to be tough-minded yet warmhearted, factually accurate and biblically objective, salt rather than sugar. We still want to present sensational facts with understated prose, to be dependent on God and independent of any political faction or interest group, to pound the pavement for stories and not sit in offices sucking our thumbs. Instead of screaming, “The sky is falling,” we still remember that God holds up the sky.

Over the past 17 years our World Journalism Institute has countered the overwhelming secular liberalism of college journalism programs, and also scouted Christian talent. All six of our full-time magazine reporters and editors under age 40 have come to us through WJI training, as have 11 of our 16 part-time magazine correspondents and two-thirds of our website’s part-time contributors. Last summer we taught the editors in chief of seven leading Christian college newspapers, as well as journalism majors from leading secular schools, and offered six internships.

Our WJI courses have also trained dozens of others now working for secular newspapers and magazines ranging from the “Inland Valley Daily Bulletin” in California to “The Washington Post.” We’re able to attract talented college students and mid-career professionals to our WJI courses partly because of the reputation of WORLD and our professors, and partly -- let’s be frank -- because we don’t charge tuition and do offer paid internships.

So Joel Belz last month and I this month ask for your help. Almost every year we ask a few more folks to step forward with a commitment of $5,000 annually for three years. More than 50 World Movers have done so in the past: We are praying for 100. But we’ll be thankful for anything you give. If you’re concerned about the next generation and our current battles, please make a fully tax-deductible gift to WORLD. To give quickly and securely online, visit wng.org/worldmovers.