- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 12, 2000

One of Marvin Olasky's lesser-known accomplishments is that he edits World, a scrappy 102,000-circulation news magazine out of Asheville, N.C.

Publisher Joel Belz made Mr. Olasky editor in December 1994, an auspicious hire in that a month later on the floor of the House of Representatives, Speaker Newt Gingrich touted Mr. Olasky's book, "The Tragedy of American Compassion."

From then on, World was increasingly in the public eye. Although the magazine covers mostly secular news events, it's also known for its religion reporting. One of its more notorious stories was an expose of the planned New International Version of the Bible by Zondervan, an evangelical publisher in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Written by Mr. Olasky's wife, Susan, the article charged the publisher with secretly planning to unveil a gender-inclusive, politically correct version of the Bible. Zondervan denied the charges, but the article caused such a furor that the publisher curtailed its plans for a new version.

World has gone on to critique other aspects of the Christian world. The reason: the 1987 debacle surrounding former PTL televangelist Jim Bakker.

"I knew and lots of Christians knew he was a phony," says Mr. Belz, "but we didn't say so. We left it to the Charlotte Observer, a Knight-Ridder newspaper, to expose one of our own. I wrote an editorial saying 'never again.' " Founded in 1986, World has operated in the black since 1997, thanks to its sister publication, God's World News, a series of profitable Christian children's magazines with a weekly circulation of 320,000. The magazine comes from a Reformed Presbyterian tradition and practices "directed reporting," in which staff writers inject a point of view into a story.

"We have a high priority on truth and fairness, but we totally abandon any claim of objectivity," Mr. Belz says. Case in point: World's highly unfavorable Feb. 19 story on Sen. John McCain's run for the presidency.

"McCain had enjoyed nonstop cream-puff coverage for 10 weeks, all on the other side," he says. "There was not an evil word said against him. In context, journalists should have been proud of us."

Many were not. Mr. Belz does not apologize.

"[Columnist] Bill Safire devoted a whole column to us in the New York Times," he says. "That put us on the map."

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