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The World Journalism Institute (WJI), created by the publishers of World magazine "to recruit, train, place and encourage journalists who are Christians in the mainstream newsrooms of America," has itself become the focus of media attention recently.

Various weblogs first began drawing attention to WJI in the wake of allegations against USA Today reporter Jack Kelley, who had been scheduled to speak at an institute luncheon around the time the newspaper's investigation of Kelley's fabricated stories concluded. Soon, questions were raised about other institute guest instructors.

A Los Angeles Times article on gay marriage opponents by Roy Rivenburg elicited sharp criticism from New York Press columnist Michelangelo Signorile. Blogs and message boards at the Poynter Institute, LA Observer and elsewhere have also been critical of a perceived WJI attempt to influence news coverage. In response, Rod Dreher, associate editorial page editor for the Dallas Morning News, said he would ask WJI to take his name off the institute's web site.

A large part of the criticism stems from World magazine's directed reporting philosophy, which calls on Christian journalists to "report biblically," not objectively. Directed reporting was part of WJI's original mission "to form a new cadre of tough-minded, warm-hearted, expertly trained Christian journalists for a new generation."

In response to the criticism and new objectives for the institute, WJI is changing its course.

Problems with directed reporting

When WJI was founded in 1999, it was intended to teach World magazine's style of reporting to a new generation of World reporters, Joel Belz, CEO of God's World Publications (which owns both World magazine and WJI) told Christianity Today last week. ...

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World Journalism Institute Changes Its Focus
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June 2004

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