To the Reader:
While the journalist’s work is simple—write the truth—it is not easily accomplished. Augustine wrote, “The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it lose; it will defend itself.” The aphorism extols a certain boldness. But there’s a fundamental challenge: how do we relay the truth clearly when the facts are complicated and seem to require interpretation? We’re faced with a slippery dichotomy. Either everything becomes relative, or there’s no room for individuality. I think storytelling dissolves the tension—which might sound funny coming from a journalist.
I grew up in Cedar Grove, Wis. It was a largely rural community. I was taught to value simple things: dirt, sweat, laughter. Beyond the night sky and rippling corn fields, we didn’t have much exposure to art. We did, however, tell stories.
Good storytelling, in my experience, requires both a scientific grip on the facts and an artist’s knack for delivering information meaningfully. Journalism is a kind of storytelling that seeks to report truth plainly. Per Augustine’s advice, the truth’s power isn’t in manipulating the story to affirm an agenda. It’s not in catering to trends for profit or praise. It’s powerful as an honest, earnest, careful translation of reality. In “The Journalist’s Creed,” Dr. Walter Williams wrote, “The supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service.” The power of the written word is its ability to convey the truth beautifully.
A Wheaton professor explained, “Making art… if done in the fear of the Lord and done from a place of concern for the lives and experiences of other people, can be an act of resistance, of stubborn acceptance of… irrepressible hope.” Journalism can then be regarded as an act of resistance to obscurity, to oppression, to lies. It is hope’s manifestation.
It seems like the current historical moment is fraught with quarrels over facts and interpretation. Contrasting stories and opinions, even those with excellent intentions, can lead to explosive disagreement. Not only does it seem like everyone has their opinion, but their own set of facts. It divides to the point of polarization politically, socially, even theologically. The Bible displays the power of truthful storytelling. As Christians, we are given the truth.
At Wheaton, we have the opportunity to be part of a community founded “For Christ and His Kingdom.” In the Student Publications Constitution, the Record’s governing policy, we are tasked with maintaining a “high type of scholarship” and a “high plane of conduct” that are “consonant with that high Christian purpose.” But I’d like to offer that writing and reporting for Christ and His Kingdom is not only a call for excellence but also a mantra for hope. Work for the Kingdom is a heavy burden, but our burden is light because Christ has carried the weight on our behalf. As sinners, we produce flawed creations. Yet, our humblest offerings honor Christ.
This marks the Record’s 130th year as a student-run publication but the Record’s legacy is difficult to trace because there is no such thing as the Record apart from the students who make it. For more than a century, Wheaton students have been laboring to tell the community’s story. While Covid-19 imposes strange circumstances on campus life, it’s hardly the first time Record staff have persisted in their work amidst adversity. During World War I and the Spanish Flu epidemic, students produced a newspaper. During the Civil Rights movement and in the days after 9/11, they did, too. As the student body faces novel circumstances, the Record is also adapting.
Instead of printing weekly, the Record will publish exclusively online and release a print edition quarterly. The online frontier establishes an opportunity to publish more often and more extensively. We are also adopting a new compensation policy to pay freelance contributors for their work. This is a season of distance and isolation. Never have stories had more power to connect us.
In the coming weeks, you can expect stories about how students are adjusting to a Covid-Safe campus and how athletes are thinking about canceled seasons. Our reporters are working on pieces to investigate Wheaton’s current enrollment and to introduce the college’s new leadership. In partnership with Tennyson Bush, Carolina Lumetta, and Valerie Halim—the ‘20-’21 senior editing team—I aim to provide the Wheaton community with a platform to foster clarity and reflection.
Following Maddie Cash and Eliana Chow, it’s my desire to answer the call to join in Christ’s truth-telling work. As it was prophesied of Christ, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” That is the basis of our irrepressible hope: Christ and His Kingdom.
Katy Coley ‘21
Editor in Chief | The Wheaton Record
Wheaton College, IL