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For WORLD, it’s always reporting first

Contrary to what you may have heard, we are not retreating from Biblically objective journalism


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People who don’t know much about WORLD are likely confused this week about what we do and what we stand for. It is possible that even you may be confused. It’s an odd experience to have outlets ranging from The New York Times to Hot Air to The Friendly Atheist airing our dirty laundry and in their own way praising our work.

So a few points of clarity are in order.

First, we don’t do our work with the hope of recognition from, let alone the backhanded admiration of, any of the aforementioned outlets. We don’t seek to appeal to the broadest possible audience, or to drive the most digital traffic, or to attract a lot of attention. No, our work is a service to you, our members, in order to help the Church. Of course we’d like to serve more members, and a greater diversity of members, but this tends to happen indirectly, the byproduct of producing quality journalism.

On-the-ground reporting has set WORLD apart from many of its evangelical counterparts.

Second, we practice Biblically objective journalism. It’s in our mission (printed in red, right at the top of the masthead). When we do our job properly, the reality of the Bible infuses our reporting, our analysis, our opinions, our interviews, and our reviews.

Third, I put “reporting” first in that list for a reason. Since Joel Belz founded the organization 40 years ago, on-the-ground reporting has set WORLD apart from many of its evangelical counterparts, and will continue to do so. The vast majority of our editorial resources go to reporting, which is expensive and time-consuming. We believe we can serve our audience uniquely through our reporting. That’s why we do it.

Fourth, we provide non-reporting content for your benefit also. You have been asking for help in thinking through the tense issues you are encountering in your lives. I need the same help. Historically, WORLD has included some of that help in the form of our Voices columns here in the magazine. Joel Belz and Marvin Olasky, together, have used more than 2,000 such columns to bring context and understanding to our reporting, all in the service of informing, educating, and inspiring you.

With WORLD Opinions, we hope to provide more of that context and understanding—daily—to go along with our vastly expanded reporting. Your support of all of our Biblically objective journalism has enabled both the expanded reporting and the expanded commentary, along with new platforms to host them.

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catalystken

Kevin,

I am a 30 year subscriber and supporter of World. I have always appreciated the incredible job World has done on reporting the issues of the day from an unbiased evangelical perspective. I felt that World reported the facts without telling the reader how all Christians should think on the issue at hand. (With the exception of Life and more recently marriage and gender issues) With the advent of World Opinions that has changed. Now you have "experts" telling us what we should think/do. I am not looking to cancel my subscription, yet, and full disclosure I have not to date found anything in World Opinions that I disagree with. However I am watching carefully and moreover am disappointed that you have decided that your readers cannot be trusted to read unbiased news stories and make educated decisions for themselves.

Jason Maas

Hi Kevin,

Losing Mindy, Angela, Sophia and Marvin feels like a terrible loss. They are fantastically gifted and will be greatly missed. It feels like a punch to the gut.

Then I received in the mail yesterday a fundraising appeal "from the desk of Kevin Martin" to help launch WORLD Opinions. It proclaims Opinions to be an "added benefit" to me. However, in light of losing great folks (and more to come?) over Opinions, that feels like a tone deaf slap in the face.

If anyone can tell the story of what's going on inside a ministry where there's division and theological wrestling, it's WORLD. Your column isn't enough. Please put your best reporters on the job and tell us the whole story. If you want us to keep supporting the organization then please be transparent and come clean. Let us know where mistakes were made and what's being done to fix them. Interview board members, including the one who resigned. Regain our trust. Please.

Jason

Steve SJason Maas

Jason, you can get one article on this here: https://julieroys.com/marvin-olasky-world-magazine-opinjon-staff-departures/

Thomas Woloszyn

Disappointed here. opinions section doesn't fit what I have understood the mission of World to be. I believe you need to re-evaluate. When you have seasoned, trusted staff step down it should be marked as a warning flag. I like the opinions section but not at the expense of good reporting or columnists. Opinions can be found everywhere.

MKUG9630

Many of your readers are very concerned that Albert Mohler will steer World down the same path as many conservative commentators who are contributing to the divisiveness of the dialog in our times. I am concerned that you have had good staff resign over this issue, and am wondering if we will be seeing the kind of balanced perspective in the future that you have shown in the past.

J LEE HARSHBARGER

I fail to see the need for an opinion section. Do we not have an infinity of opinion pieces already? Why waste money on something over-supplied? What has made World stellar is its investigative reporting and clear effort to present things in an even-handed manner, though the theological and political slant of the magazine certainly comes through.

While I do not see the point in starting an Opinions section at World, what is even more concerning is who is leading it. Albert Mohler is one of a few well-known evangelicals whom I strongly dislike. I know nothing about him personally; I'm speaking in terms of what he writes, the actions he takes, and that I perceive his influence on Christianity as being poisonous. He is a prime example of what's wrong with evangelical Christianity -- a terrible conflation of conservative politics with the Word of God, blending the two as if they were one, diluting and distorting the truth of the Gospel. This sentence from his introductory article on the Opinions is strongly disturbing but no surprise at all coming from Albert Mohler: "That standpoint will be, in light of the current nomenclature, unquestionably conservative, and marked by a commitment to preserve and defend the unique contribution of Western civilization as established under the influence of Christianity." Christianity is not "unquestionably conservative." The importance of Christianity isn't a focus on its role in Western civilization. Our society, including the Church, is already suffering from much division. Why create something that exacerbates the situation?

I've read some of the opinion pieces and, despite Mohler's claim about avoiding "rhetorical bombast" and "unfair generalization," I see the same kind of culture war mentality in these pieces that I see in so many other places. Do not take World in this direction. World has been a highly respected magazine, and this taints its stature.

Bruce

I have tried to distill my concern down to one or two key points or questions. It has been difficult. I have been a happy and enthusiastic customer and reader of World publications since my kids were very young, in the mid-90s. Emotionally, I have generally felt relief and encouragement with World journalism and editorials. World News Group has done much better, in comparison to many other news outlets (including some Christian ones), at avoiding the clamoring posture of a cultural and political provocateur. I have enjoyed being less concerned and more open to what has been written and spoken by WNG. I've exercised discernment, derived my own conclusions, and even commented on some without feeling like I need to prepare for battle.

Your article here, Mr. Martin, prompts me to try to corner the emotions I've felt recently. Like others, with the retirement of Mindy Belz and Marvin Olasky, with the resignation of Sophia Lee, the coincident launch of World Opinions, and the turmoil of news coverage about all these items, I have been greatly unsettled, sad, and troubled. I have promoted "The World and Everything in It" and the "World" magazine to many people, and my unabashed support now is shaken. I'm not sure how well I corralled my emotions, but in the effort, I think I've been able to understand better why I am anxious me about World Opinions and what seems to indeed be a real change in the kind of content World News Group is producing.

This is my concern with World Opinions and editorial and production shift to its political, spiritual, and cultural commentary: will it increase contempt and unrighteous anger in the Lord's Church? We are all sinners, and attempting to lead Christians in "how to think" needs to account for our propensity to turn good to evil.

I believe that it is important to articulate with fervor the positions, reasons, and conclusions for many topics being addressed in World Opinions. I believe there are many parts to the body of Christ, and thus there will be differing and sometimes conflicting perspectives based on powerful convictions across all WNG readership.

If, however, WNG is increasing the political, spiritual, and cultural tensions of our time by, for example, pejorative critiques and by stereotyping people in the worst way (or nearly so), that will be sadly disappointing. Sadly, in my reading of some World Opinion articles, that does appear to be what is happening. It isn't present in all of them, which is encouraging, but those that do paint such lurid commentary stand out even more!

I am thinking of the words Jesus Christ spoke about the sinfulness of having such contempt of another to call him or her "Fool!". I am considering His warning that to the degree we judge others by a certain standard, we ought to examine ourselves by that standard first. Opinionated hyperbole and bombastic rhetoric seem to lean in the direction of throwing such considerations aside. Yet He calls us to be different from the sinful world, to return evil with good.

Is that exhortation, to return evil with good, in the mind of your authors of World Opinion articles? Is your staff being careful to avoid promoting anger fueled by pride or fear?

I dearly hope so, and I continue to support the work and mission of World News Group in prayer and financially during this transition. As one in the body of Christ, my perspective is limited and directed in a certain way, and I cannot say that there is even so much to worry about here to warrant this little essay. The Lord is faithful, and I have come to trust that the staff of WNG is truly seeking after Him in faithfulness like mine.

savedsinner

The Evangelical Industrial Complex needs World News Group and also is in great need of challenges and encouragements which the Opinions innovation provides. We have seen in the aftermath of the 2020 election what those of a purist mentality did in electing the current administration and the results on every hand of disastrous outcomes.. Leadership requires courage as well as virtue and in a fallen world you do not get 100 % purity only an attempt to reach it. World News Group is unique but those that only demand perfection (from their vantage point) which I have never seen apart from God's Word will eventually be sorely disappointed. Joel Belz called it "growing pains" and I would exhort you all to press on and May God Bless the Opinions initiative as well as all aspects of WNG. We need what Harry Blamires called The Christian Mind to once again be established in America and that will require both factual and courageous reporting as well as thoughtful analysis such as Opinions will provide. Thank you for your caring. and may God Continue to Bless WNG.

SSMA2830

The fact that you didn't say a word about recent key staff departures doesn't reassure me at all--in fact just the opposite. I have been a World reader and supporter from it's beginning but I don't expect to renew. Stephen Smallman (Sr.)

SWIL8924

When writers of the caliber of Olasky, Belz, and Lee resign, a long-time subscriber such as myself cannot help but question the direction of WNG. Opinions are a dime a dozen these days, but top notch reporting is a rare gem. The latter must not take a back seat to the former if Biblically objective journalism is to survive.

Steve S

Kevin, you've managed to avoid the real reason there is an uproar here. Opinion essays are fine, as long as they are balanced and reflect the range of opinions that Christians can have on issues of the day.
The problem is the stated view (and the reality of the opinion articles being published) that only "unquestionably conservative" views will be published here. (As stated by Dr. Mohler here: https://wng.org/opinions/into-the-battle-of-ideas-1633023747). It's kind of misleading to equate the new Opinions section with the Voices columns of the past.

Could you address why an effort is not being made to allow a breadth of views to be published??

DianeMom

I'm praying for you all!

CAFFEINATED

So much of what is driving dissension in just about every area of today's culture is a glut of opinions. Facts seem much harder to come by. I don't have a problem with your new opinion section, but I do believe you are wading into very murky waters, perhaps unnecessarily. May God bless you and give you wisdom.

Tim Miller

I'm disappointed at the equating of conservative with Christian. I've seen Salem Media go the same route, and it is embarrassing what they air these days.

BBEL3451

I understand that some of your readers must be asking for help in forming their opinions, but what I have deeply appreciated in the past is the ability to access a news source that reliably reports the news, often in-depth, and then "allows" me to draw my own conclusions. I think there is a substantive difference between publishing the occasional musings of WORLD reporters and editors for your readers' perusal (a well-established journalistic tradition), and the near-daily publishing of opinion pieces from columnists whose sole reason for writing for WORLD is to influence my opinions (already an absurdly prominent feature of the modern media landscape). I appreciate your consideration of my concerns.

PROFILE NAME

Cut the Opinions bit. As soon as I heard it I figured it would make things murky and cause issues. Cut it.

GB102921

Thank you for the clarification. I appreciate WORLD opinions and wish it wide circulation to help and equip the Church interpret and stand in our key cultural moment. Hold fast.

DWES8092

Thanks for this clarification. Since Opinions first launched (prior to recent reports), I've been concerned about the loss of great reporting. Opinions are plentiful, good journalism rare. I'm not opposed to opinion pieces, and love World Opinions so far (and have always appreciated Al Mohler). I just don't want opinions to interfere with the availability of good, Christian influenced, reporting, which is so hard to find.

RJAM2515

It is too bad that you let those other media scoop you. If you had been out in front and reported it first, you could have set the terms of the debate. Instead, by ignoring these significant developments (avoiding the judgmental expression “covering up”), you have allowed them to make the first and general impression.

JJOH6429

I wish you had specifically addressed the concerns expressed by staff who have recently resigned. Committing to deliver a thoroughly “conservative” perspective on the new platform without defining the term leaves one wondering. While I consider myself conservative aligned with the perspective of classical liberalism , there are many who would define it in terms of supporting certain politicians or focused exclusively on a particular social issue.

Ginny

Point 1: Check.
Point 2: I would like you to have said "the truth of the Bible" infuses your reporting, not just "the reality of the Bible." Of course the Bible is real. So is the Koran. So is the Bhagavad Gita. So is Peanuts.
Point 3: Check, but the uniqueness of your reporting is dependent on #2 being the truth of the Bible. If you lose that, your reporting will no longer be unique.
Point 4: Check, but same as #3.
WORLD has been an oasis in the news media. I will now proceed with greater caution, sad to feel this is necessary. Please don't cave. Retain your spines.