Planted in a small city | WORLD
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Planted in a small city

CEO NOTES | God providentially placed our organization right where He wanted it

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According to a 2022 U.S. Census Bureau ­estimate, 330 cities in the United States have a population greater than 100,000. Asheville, N.C., is not among them.

Depending on your perspective, Asheville is either a small city or a large town. When tourists are abundant, which is the case nine months of the year, Asheville feels more like a city. It lends credibility to the claim that Asheville has the highest number of short-term vacation rentals per capita of any American city. I’ve never met anyone here who seems very happy about that. (I’ve also seen claims that Asheville has the most breweries per capita of any American city, and I’ve met quite a few people who seem proud of that.)

I don’t know if those claims are accurate, but I do know that Asheville has been a good home for WORLD News Group and its predecessor organization for more than 80 years.

A bit of WORLD history: In 1942, two Asheville men—Nelson Bell and Henry Dendy—began publishing The Southern Presbyterian Journal from an office nearby. That publication grew in numbers and influence, then declined in the same metrics—but survived for more than 40 years. Near the end of its useful life, a young Joel Belz joined the organization, hoping to breathe new life into its weekly publication. He couldn’t, but he leveraged the publishing resources of the Journal, added a few more, and began the God’s World News line of weekly newsmagazines for students that boomed alongside Christian schools in the 1980s. A few years later, he launched WORLD Magazine.

Today, roughly half of WORLD’s full-time employees live in Asheville. Almost our entire business staff works from the Asheville headquarters, along with a significant portion of the editorial and production staff for God’s WORLD News and WORLD Watch. Altogether, those departments represent the half of our employees who live here.

Conversely, almost the entire editorial and production staff for WORLD lives elsewhere, as do the employees of World Journalism Institute. That’s important for the work they do, which involves as much on-the-ground reporting as we can afford. We can afford more when the reporters live closer to the action.

About 20 years ago, we looked at moving WORLD’s headquarters to a different location. God didn’t allow it then, and we haven’t seriously considered it since. WORLD would have become a much different organization had it been based in a big city or a power center of some sort. Asheville is neither. I’m thankful for that.

Kevin Martin

Kevin Martin is the CEO of WORLD News Group.


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