Mother Jones published a lengthy piece Monday detailing the extensive connections between mysterious religious leader David Jang, the religious college he founded, Olivet University, and IBT Media, which purchased Newsweek in August of last year. Though the story does not suggest IBT’s ties to Jang’s religious movement have influenced Newsweek’s content, Business Insider has found signs infusing the “Gospel message” into media is central to Jang’s concept of journalism.
The story in Mother Jones detailed how the finances of Jang, Olivet, and IBT are all intermingled. It also included evidence Jang has been involved in business decisions made by IBT’s young co-founders, Etienne Uzac and Johnathan Davis. In addition to their other relationships with Jang, both Uzac and Davis have ties to Olivet. These connections are intriguing since injecting religion into media seems to be a major part of Olivet’s journalism curriculum.
Olivet’s website indicates the school is divided into seven colleges including Olivet College of Journalism. The journalism school’s web page includes an introductory page noting students there are “equipped to change the world for Jesus Christ.” It also features a mission statement where the main goal of the school is described as “equipping” students “with professional skills and an ability to apply knowledge in Christian media ministries to propagate the Gospel message through contemporary and traditional forms of media.”
Editors at Newsweek and IBT’s other mainstream media properties responded to the Mother Jones piece by claiming the religious beliefs of the magazine’s ownership do not influence it content. However, the company’s co-founders reportedly have deep ties to Olivet, where the journalism school is expressly dedicated to spreading religious messages through the media. Furthermore, according to a New York Times report published in October, the school’s president boasted that it has served as a feeder for IBT.
The New York Times said Uzac was a member of Olivet’s board of trustees. It also noted Davis’ wife, Tracy, who is also president of Olivet, said, “IBT has also provided internship and job opportunities for Olivet students and graduates.”
Christianity Today, which published a pair of articles on Jang in 2012, also said Uzac has been the school’s treasurer and Davis was its “director of journalism.” Those stories also accused Jang of preaching that he is the “Second Coming Christ,” a messianic figure. Olivet leaders have criticised Christianity Today’s coverage as inaccurate.
Business Insider reached out to Uzac, Davis, and Newsweek Editor-In-Chief Jim Impoco on Monday to ask them about Olivet’s concept of journalism and whether they brought similar values to Newsweek. As of this writing, none of them have responded.
View the Olivet College of Journalism’s mission statement below.
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