by Marjorie Pratt
Developing a Crystal-Clear World Map
Journalism at Patrick Henry College means seeing the world clearly and being able to convey it clearly to others. Patrick Henry College’s mission is to cultivate young leaders for Christ. Leaders must not only have a vision for the future, but also the ability to see the current state of their surroundings. This is what Dr. Sillars, Professor of Journalism at Patrick Henry College, calls a “clear world map.” He uses this term to describe the level of understanding journalists have of the world around them. Journalists who let their biases affect their work have foggy world maps, journalists who do not do all the research they should for stories have limited world maps, and journalists who do their best to understand every side of an argument have clear world maps. Leaders, like journalists, must have clear world maps. That’s why the Journalism Minor is a great option for any Patrick Henry College student.
Be Flexible, and See the World Clearly
Students who participate in the Journalism Minor at Patrick Henry College can benefit from the Journalism Department’s mission to create storytellers, even if journalism is not their first love. Whether they’re studying Economics and Business Analytics with the goal of going into business, Government with the goal of heading to Washington, D. C., or Literature, hoping to do one of the many things open to Literature graduates, any student can learn to see the world clearly under the direction of Dr. Sillars.
The Journalism Minor at Patrick Henry College prepares students of any major to write for news and other non-fiction publications. Students will develop basic writing and reporting skills and be introduced to key concepts that will help them develop a biblically-based understanding of journalism. The minor also prepares students to work in related fields such as communications and public relations.
Hone Your Skills, Step by Step
To do this, Patrick Henry College journalism minors will take two semesters of Introduction to Journalism, one semester of Media law, three credits of internship hours, and five credits of minor elective hours. In Introduction to Journalism, Dr. Sillars teaches students the story-telling process from drawing board to publication. He introduces young journalism students to the idea of finding a story and following leads, he teaches them how to conduct interviews and turn interviews into copy, and shows them how to best edit their own stories as well as others’ stories. In Media Law, students learn the legal and ethical requirements of journalists and publishers. They learn the specifics of the First Amendment and how to avoid libel suits. The internship gives students the opportunity to put the things they’re learning to the test. With an internship under their belt, they’ll graduate with first-hand publication experience.
Apply Your Skills while at Patrick Henry College
A long list of Minor Electives gives Patrick Henry College students the freedom to take courses within the field. Options include: Print Media Graphics, Journalism History, Multi-media Skills, Narrative Non-fiction, and Political Journalism.
Print Media Graphics gives students the skills they need to tackle any graphic design challenge with an introductory knowledge of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign. With this class they can tackle other projects inside or outside Patrick Henry College.
Patrick Henry College Journalism History takes students through American history, pointing out all of the methods of journalism even before the term “journalism” was coined or the practice was officially recognized. This gives students the context they need to understand how the world of journalism has evolved over time, how it has grown more and less biased as years pass, and how the culture has grown away from Christ.
Multi-Media skills gives Patrick Henry College students an introduction to audio and visual reporting and editing. From this class, students will learn the basics of Adobe Audacity and Adobe Premier. Like Print Media Graphics, this class gives students the stepping stones they need to tackle projects inside or outside Patrick Henry College.
Narrative Non-fiction dives deep into how to tell true stories. This is one of the most popular elective courses, and every Journalism student looks forward to the opportunity to take it. From Dr. Sillars, students learn how to gather true stories and tell them in a compelling way. They study biographies and books written by journalists in order to understand this specific medium. Throughout the semester, students will also have opportunities to try their hand at writing their own non-fiction narratives.
In Political Journalism, students can learn just what it means to be a political journalist. In this class they can come to understand how writing about the political sphere is different than writing on any other topic. They learn ethical principles and best practices. It is an interesting course, even for students who do not intend on going into political journalism when they leave Patrick Henry College.
The Final Product
Patrick Henry College students will gain the skills, knowledge, and experience they will need to compete effectively for positions with news media in local, regional, and national markets. Students also develop a strong sense of professionalism, a respect for the institution of journalism and its role in maintaining a free society, and the ability to understand and evaluate trends and practices in contemporary journalism. Most importantly, they will develop a biblically-based philosophy of journalism to guide them as they seek truth as the ultimate goal in all that they investigate and report.
Through this program, Patrick Henry College students can develop biblical principles and a Christian worldview of the role of a Christian journalist in society and how these principles apply to Christian and non-Christian publications. They can demonstrate professional competency in the core practical journalistic tasks by finding, reporting, and writing publishable news stories for local, regional, and national markets. Finally, they can understand the major principles of media law that apply to print journalism.
The most important part of this program and any Patrick Henry College program is the Christ-centeredness. Patrick Henry College’s goal is not just to create leaders, but to create leaders for Christ, and the only way to do this is by focusing whole-heartedly on our loving Creator and learning to use words to point back to Him.