Journalism student prepare to meet the culture with writing

Journalism Students Prepare to Meet the Culture

At 11 weeks into the semester, there’s no doubt that students are feeling the weight of daily homework assignments and the pull of Christmas vacation. But there’s still a lot to do before break.

One group of students has been diligently working for MBU Professor Nathan Huffstutler this semester.

A Class to Meet the Culture

The Journalism class, one of the many classes Huffstutler teaches, explores the news industry through gathering material, organizing information and writing news stories. The course shows the importance of reporting and writing for the common people. It’s also a class that students of any major – whether they’re studying English education or biology – should take.

Technology has dominated the world for decades, especially the news world. In response to this influence, writers have shifted their focus to writing for the public through blogs, online magazines and websites.

Even with this shift, Huffstutler believes that writers can speak truth through the power of journalism. Christian writers specifically have a chance to share their voices in a world full of noise.

“Journalism is not a ‘worldly’ vocation, but a full-time ministry for the Christian – it’s a way to be salt and light in our culture, and it’s a great way to fulfill the command to love God and neighbor,” Huffstutler says.

Project Based Preparation

So, with that perspective in mind, Huffstutler has set his Journalism students to work in preparation for one essential assignment: the semester project.

The semester project is the cumulation of everything the students have learned about journalism. Using interviews, on-scene observation and research, students work together in groups of four to five to write a human-interest story covering a local business, program or event. Each group must develop their project based on journalism techniques and ask one main question to begin: Is this idea newsworthy?

Each topic chosen by the teams this semester is definitely newsworthy. Three of the topics are Kiddie Kampus, the Watertown Farmer’s Market, and the First Brigade Band of Watertown.

One Journalism team has chosen to write about Maranatha Baptist Bible Institute, which launched this past September on MBU’s campus. Barry Bradshaw, one of the MBBI project team members, explains how his group started processing their idea.

“[MBBI] is a novel idea, having been established for less than a year,” Bradshaw says. “It’s an area of MBU many are unfamiliar with, so it was perfect for generating interest as well.”

Bradshaw’s team has been able to dive in and explore the new addition to campus by interviewing the MBBI staff and learning about the program’s purpose. The groups have grasped the importance of having a dynamic group environment.

“Our team has worked together very well, and I’ve enjoyed the morale of our group,” says Sarah Moore, one of Bradshaw’s team members. “With multiple personalities on our team it has been easy to talk about and divvy up responsibilities.”

More than Journalism

Journalism also emphasizes the necessity for writers to have people skills. Reporters must handle situations they haven’t prepared for, whether it’s in a private office or at a local press conference. Huffstutler uses the semester project as a way to encourage and strengthen his students skills.

“Students have to work with each other face to face, and by doing so they are developing some of the people skills that they will use in the workplace and in ministry,” Huffstutler says. “You have to know how to talk to other people in stressful situations, and this project is a great venue for that.”

Even through all the challenges of a normal college student’s schedule, the MBBI Journalism team is eagerly working to create a project worthy of an A. Their goal is to spread awareness about the program on campus and around the Watertown community – and they’ve already seen their hard work come together.

“With so many moving and developing parts, the project is a lot to handle,” Bradshaw says. “However, we have all grown throughout the process and are optimistic regarding the outcome.”

The reward is yet to come for the Journalism teams, but until then, the students will continue to learn what it means to be a journalist in today’s world. Journalism is a vital part to our culture, and we can train leaders who will use their abilities to plant a Christian voice in the news world. And the change may start with just one Journalism class.