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Innovative Journalism and Professional Writing Programs

  • Mike Farris, Esq. President of Patrick Henry College
  • 2002 25 Jul
Innovative Journalism and Professional Writing Programs

Creative and Professional Writing

Patrick Henry College's Creative and Professional Writing program has been designed to provide Classical Liberal Arts majors with thorough training in a wide variety of writing venues and genres. Topics range from poetry and fiction writing to magazine feature writing and interviewing. Numerous specialty sessions, workshops, and seminars are also offered on such topics as travel writing, scriptwriting, devotional writing, children's books and stories, and research techniques. The core curriculum of the Classical Liberal Arts major provides excellent content for aspiring writers who want to communicate important ideas to their readers.

Students are shown how to market their various writings. Editors and publishers visit our campus to give guest lectures and to meet and work with students. Professors obtain writing assignments for the students from national periodicals. Internships and a practicum put the students inside the working operations of book publishers, magazine offices, public relations firms, and other media outlets.

This course of study has been designed specifically for the students of Patrick Henry College by Dr. Dennis E. Hensley, who has designed similar successful writing programs at such Christian schools as Taylor University and Regent University. Dr. Hensley supervises the curriculum, as well as visits campus to teach classes and lead seminars. He is the author of 40 books, including eight best-selling books on professional writing. He holds numerous awards as an academician, including the Indiana University "Award for Teaching Excellence" and the "Dorothy Hamilton Memorial Writing Award."

Working with Dr. Hensley is Professor Linda McGinn, author of 17 books and a nationally known speaker at writers' conferences, women's retreats, and church conventions. Ms. McGinn will not only provide quality classroom instruction for students, she will spend many hours each week personally mentoring each student. It is this one-on-one attention that makes the Patrick Henry program so beneficial to developing writers. Students are not numbers at PHC, they are individuals.

Upon graduating, students will have gained real world work experience, will have assembled a portfolio showcasing their published manuscripts, and will have made connections with key people in the outlets of publishing, film-making, and network media. For a 21st century program in writing and marketing, nothing can match what Patrick Henry College has to offer.


The purpose of Patrick Henry College's Journalism track is to prepare students to be outstanding journalists. While completing a broad and substantive series of courses in the Government major, students will gain the verbal and technical skills, knowledge and experience they will need to compete effectively for journalism positions with print and web-based news media in local, regional, and national markets. Most importantly, they will learn to apply a biblical worldview as they develop a philosophy of journalism that allows them to seek truth as the ultimate goal in all that they investigate and report.

All Government majors in the Journalism track will study News Writing, Basic Reporting, and Communication Theory and will have the opportunity to study Newspaper Design, Media Law, and Journalism History.

Seniors and juniors will earn apprenticeship credits (Directed Research and Writing) either by completing internships at local or D.C.-based news media or by designing and producing freelance print media projects to be submitted for publication at newspapers and magazines. All students in the Journalism track, including freshmen and sophomores, will participate in the production of the Patrick Henry College student newspaper.

The specific skills students will learn include finding story ideas and developing "beats," basic reporting and interviewing techniques, writing "hard" and "feature" news stories and editorials with good structure, color, and style, and finding markets for their work. Students will also develop a strong sense of professionalism, a respect for the institution of journalism and its role in the maintenance of a free society, and the ability to understand and evaluate trends and practices in contemporary journalism.

The program is directed by Les Sillars, who is completing a doctorate in Journalism at the University of Texas-Austin, where he also served as a graduate assistant to Dr. Marvin Olasky, editor of WORLD magazine. Professor Sillars is a working journalist with 10 years experience. His byline has appeared in many US and Canadian dailies and weeklies. He has taught at the WORLD Journalism Institute, and continues as a freelance writer.

Mike Farris is the founder and president of Patrick Henry College (www.phc.edu) and the founder and chairman of the board of the Home School Legal Defense Association (www.hslda.org).


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