Our biggest WJI yet
CEO NOTES | This year we got creative to accommodate as many students as possible
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Notice the date of this issue. On this date, May 20, students in the 2023 class at World Journalism Institute, our largest group ever, will already be in the field gathering news.
The number and quality of applications we received for our primary journalism intensive for college students was extraordinary, prompting us to take some unprecedented steps in response.
I’ll get to those steps in a moment, but first, a word about the applications themselves. In normal years, we expect to accept about half of the students who apply for the course, and all of those who meet the high qualifications. We limit the number of students who attend, based on available space at Dordt University, our budgeted resources, and the number of instructors we can commit.
This year, we received a record number of applications, and most of them were qualified. WJI executive director Lee Pitts told me that this year, we faced the prospect of turning away applicants who would have “made the cut” in previous years.
So we managed to add four spots. That required generous concessions from Dordt, more instructors, and, obviously, additional cost.
And yet, we were still looking at having to turn away a couple of dozen qualified candidates.
WJI’s necessity turned into Lee’s invention: He drew a line at college juniors and seniors, and placed the younger students on a waiting list, with the invitation to apply again next year. We hope they will.
That left an unusually large group of college-graduate applicants, most of whom had been out of school for several years. We often have one or two applicants in this category—but this year we had many. So Lee came up with the idea of inviting 10 candidates from this group to a special one-week course at our headquarters in Asheville, to be held in conjunction with our first-ever course for bilingual (Spanish-English) reporters in July.
Many of our instructors already were planning to be in town for that course, so splitting that instruction into two tracks seems feasible. The training itself will be patterned after the mid-career course, which is designed as a one-week program.
Even after calling all these audibles to serve more students than we expected, we still have a problem—more promising students than we can accommodate. That’s a good problem, and we are committed to fixing it. We’re going to need to grow the program so we can fulfill our mission to train, place, and encourage Christian journalists in the newsrooms of America and the world.
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