All about Patrick Henry College’s Journalism Minor

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.

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Unique Journalism Program at Patrick Henry College

Unique Journalism Program at Patrick Henry College

by Carrie Durning

Patrick Henry College (PHC) has a reputation of being one of the top Christian colleges in the country, regardless of the academic major that a student pursues. A very unique formula helps build the Patrick Henry College Journalism program and makes it unique from any other BA-level program in Journalism.

So, what makes the academic program so unique or somehow superior? That’s a fair question. The liberal arts program at Patrick Henry College is distinctly classical in its approach, American in its presentation, and Christian in its worldview. Here’s a brief description of each:

Broad and Rich

All academic programs at Patrick Henry College are built on a broad and rich classical core; one that emphasizes reading volumes of the great texts of Western Civilization, strong analytical skills, strong thinking and reasoning ability, and producing the best communicators among all college graduates. PHC delivers the kind of education that the university (general) provided 250 years ago. Students in a university would read the great works of antiquity and dialogue about their meanings.

Distinctly American

The Patrick Henry College program also requires students to understand the spirit of the American founding, relying on Constitutional literacy, an understanding of our freedom’s foundations, History of the United States, and of Western Civilization. The academic programs at Patrick Henry College delivers an education as deep and rich as the one that formed the thinking of our Founding Fathers.

Self-consciously Christian

Patrick Henry College’s program holds an unwavering commitment to the Christian worldview. All courses from sciences and math to government and the humanities are taught through the lens of God’s revealed truth—the special revelation of God through his world, through His Word, the Bible, and through the Word who became flesh; Jesus Christ.

The combination of high academic rigor, commitment to the spirit of America’s founding principles, and an unwavering biblical worldview helps PHC students achieve the excellence they were looking for when they applied—the reputation that the College has earned nationally in only 20 years.

Tell Great Stories

Studying Journalism at Patrick Henry College will do more than help students learn how to write or to get news stories out the door as quickly as possible. Journalism at PHC is aimed at creating great storytellers. Stories define cultures, and storytellers are so important in politics, business, entertainment, education, the arts, and religion.

The aim for the Journalism program at Patrick Henry College is only accomplished when the graduates are able to see the world rightly—as it really is. Only then can those storytellers help others see the world rightly too. Far more than aiming to inform, a well-trained journalist will strive to help people understand. With the rich classical Christian liberal arts education at Patrick Henry College, graduates will be best equipped to “lead the nation and shape the culture,” through stories.

From Writing to Storytelling at Patrick Henry College

One of the first classes in the program that a Journalism student encounters integrates classical liberal arts into the art of writing. It puts emphasis on the relationship of things and certain connections that can be drawn during the interview process of a story. Students develop the high-caliber skill of learning how to ask precise questions for acquiring the most informative story possible.

Once journalism students learn to think clearly, speak articulately, and write persuasively, they are best equipped to tell the story. Journalism students continue into courses which cover the basics of storytelling and writing, all with a commitment to the highest levels of character and integrity.

The Importance of Storytelling in Journalism

With the need for Christians in the media, working for the government, and in ministry, journalists from Patrick Henry College are trained to help people see the world clearly. This is why the Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism is so unique: at PHC, we train young Christians to have a historically informed understanding of the culture and understand how best to apply biblical truth to those important issues.

At Patrick Henry College, journalism classes reveal the importance of understanding the story before shaping it into a narrative—and from narrative to a story masterpiece. This is where the upper-level journalism classes come into play, such as Narrative Nonfiction, Multimedia Skills, Political Journalism, and Journalism History.

Upper-level Journalism classes at Patrick Henry College equip journalism students with excellence in writing, awareness of important stories to shape our culture, and the beautiful language to use when telling a story.

Getting Creative with Storytelling

Journalism classes at Patrick Henry College such as Narrative Nonfiction push students beyond their creative limits to tell a story in its full potential. Using elements such as narrative storytelling, excellence in word choice, and precise language—as well as beautiful imagery and descriptions—Dr. Sillars teaches journalism students the capabilities of storytelling in its most beautiful form.

Classes at Patrick Henry College such as Multimedia Skills equip students with a broad set of skills also important in the industry. Journalism students at PHC will complete this course with proficient skills in Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Audition, and others along with skilled broadcast journalism and videography.

Students taking this creative storytelling journalism course have the choice in the class which talent or skill to focus on perfecting so they can finish the class having created media fit for publishing.

Other creative storytelling courses offered to journalism students at Patrick Henry College include Print Media Graphics, the College’s student newspaper, The Herald, and Herald Media.

Using Creative Storytelling in the World 

While most journalism students at Patrick Henry College excel in newsroom journalism—telling stories of a fallen world infused with grace—other journalism majors use the excellence in media and creative storytelling they learned at PHC and apply it to their passions to create a thriving business.

These passions-turned-business range from life-blogging, painting, or website design to wedding photography and videography.

Along with alumni of the Journalism program, current journalism students are also leading the nation and shaping the culture through their creative knowledge of storytelling, beginning their small businesses right on the campus of Patrick Henry College.

One current journalism student has taken what she learned through creative journalism classes at Patrick Henry College and applied it to start her creative company of watercolor painting. Turning her passion of panting into a profession, Adriana VonHelms (PHC ‘21) began taking varying painting commissions, the most popular being paintings of homes. VonHelms tells the story of a home through her watercolor painting; once receiving a photo from her client of their cherished home, VonHelms turns a blank page into a beautiful story of a home full of adored memories for her client to cherish forever.

Other current students have turned their passions of photography and videography into a business. One student became a part-time photographer while enrolled, telling the stories of couples in love through the art of photography during engagement sessions and weddings.

Stories define cultures and Patrick Henry College’s journalism major is for those that wish to learn how to be the best at seeing the world clearly and telling true stories.

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