Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Something special happened last week at the National College Media Convention in Chicago.

As some 2,000 students and advisers came to the Sheraton Hotel to sharpen their journalism skills, network with each other and accept awards, one track of faith-related sessions took things deeper. A lot deeper. In fact, I believe we are seeing the beginning of a movement of God.

In one session, photographer Darrell Goemaat from the Regular Baptist Press showed how God has placed him and his incredible skills into a full-time ministry position. Other sessions featured two fairly recent journalism grads who now work for a Christian relief agency; the Chicago Tribune’s religion reporter; and two veteran advisers helping students through the challenges of covering news on a Christian campus.

The deputy managing editor of Christianity Today, Tim Morgan, took a full hour to walk through several gospel passages and show students and advisers that Jesus can indeed be their role model as a journalist. I’m willing to bet that it was the first time anyone ever exposited scripture at a journalism convention.

Lincoln Brunner and I talked about our career paths, how God has called us to missionary journalism … and what it might look like for students seeking to follow God in that direction. While we expected that the students would be interested in what we had to say, their level of buy-in absolutely floored us.

At one point as various students – from both public and private colleges and universities – were talking about their desire to serve God with their vocations, a question popped into my mind. Again, it was one that may never have been asked at a journalism convention. But, what the heck.

“How many of you are sensing God tapping you on the shoulder and prompting you to do something specific?” I asked. Most of the hands in the room went up. Probably the closest I’ll ever come to an altar call.

So we talked through some of those promptings. Many felt called to some form of missionary journalism. Others mentioned humanitarian work … sharing their faith with someone … doing video documentaries … “speaking for the unspoken.”

In response to our potential missionary journalism internship in Costa Rica, one graduate student emailed us later: “I cannot describe the tug in my heart, nor the beckoning I feel toward this opportunity. I only know that it is of Him and that I’m ready to take a risk for Christ.” She also blogged about the convention’s Faith track and how it impacted her.

All this at a college journalism convention. We certainly claim no credit. It was sure fun to have a front-row seat, though. God is beginning to open doors, and minds, to amazing possibilities: Telling stories of what he is up to around the world, and how people can get involved.

Seems to me that is a recipe to help start a revival. Or at least to cover one.


Letter to a Newbie

Posted: August 23, 2012 by Lincoln Brunner in doubt, nostalgia, writing

My wife found the letter — hand-typed, with the correction-tape scars to prove it — in a box in the basement.

The letter was written on March 30, 1993, by a Chicago Tribune columnist to a young journalist dreaming of the big time. Back then, before the Internet swallowed our newspapers like a whale gobbling krill, the “big time” meant papers like the Trib. That still is the big time, I think, but not like the days of the monoliths, when giants mediated truth. Back then, even two short paragraphs on real Chicago Tribune letterhead meant something.

But what a punch those two grafs packed for me, a greenhorn working on a college weekly for minimum wage. I read every word, over and over, like a kid savoring a note from Santa Claus himself:

Dear Lincoln Brunner–

Thank you for your letter and the enclosed editorial. I’m flattered that you would want to some day be a journalist–it’s great to know that talented people want to enter a field that can often be more difficult than it is glamorous. I realize that the competition for journalists is keen, and so breaking into the field will prove to be a challenge, but perseverance will pay off. Judging by your writing, I would say that you are most certainly on the right path.

There are many great stories to be found, and I wish you the best in finding those that help you on your path to success.


 Bob Greene

Almost 20 years on, reading those words again this morning refreshes my soul. For a major league columnist like Greene to take the time to write to a complete unknown (heck, I’m still a complete unknown, just with experience) … wow. I remember now how much that letter boosted my confidence, and how that bit of confidence helped keep me going through what would be a critical time in my life and career.

I landed my first reporting gig a little more than a year after the letter arrived, a general assignment job that taught me almost everything I know about reporting.

So thanks, Bob Greene, wherever you are. Your two paragraphs helped launch a journalism career two decades old now — and by God’s grace, they have been a success.

And you were right — perseverance does pay off.