A basic Indeed.com search for “print journalist” yields the alternate-reality returns.

Medicine man. Sorcerer. Alchemist. 

Because their words cast spells?

Try: Because they were better nineteenth century career choices.

I do love a good charitable interpretation, though!

You may now be able to get your prescription without mortar and pestle, eye of newt and tail of nutria. And your news without an IBM Selectric or correcting tape or the delivery boy. But are we really any better off?

Can nuclear medicine really compare with good ol’ fashion leeches?

(I really should’ve made print journalist rhyme with blacksmith or haberdasher or cobbler for the sake of this exercise. No “cutting edge” developments with shoe-fixing.)

What my family sacrifices in knowledge of emerging markets and, say, retirement possibilities, it makes up for in suggestions. Everyone has an article to pitch. 

I use my power of suggestion sparingly, believing my editor/dad has a pretty good idea of what local Catholics would like to read (he’s won a few awards to prove it).

So, in this sense at least, I’m not the prodigal son. I’m the one who has an earth-shattering idea only once every six months.

No fatted calf for my feasting, but I’m proud of CV of hockey assists.

Some were sweet little stories, like the seventy-year-married couple who died within sixteen hours of each other, their mutual responsibilities extinguished together.

Some involved a bit more reconnaissance, like the years of twenty-yards-away observations of a soon-to-be Hall of Fame quarterback who began many days striding up the pocket of the vestibule and down the church aisle, hitting paydirt when making it to some communion-rail prayer. (He also may have surprised the Communion line itself a time or two—doesn’t this guy favor Drew…Body of Christ…Brees? Guess not?)

Some even moved with more…pointed force. From the closing credits of the Gleason movie, I sent a text heard-round the family, insisting that the Clarion Herald make a two-hour trip to Grand Coteau for an interview with Fr. Raymond Fitzgerald, SJ, another local stricken with ALS.

Before. He. Died.

I think that’s how I put it—with a few other choice words peppered in.

After reminding me of proper text thread decorum, my dad went. And he wrote. And it all makes me grateful and reflective and sad.

For one, Fr. Fitzgerald’s dear mother has since died, making even more poignant her quote of acceptance at her son’s battle with a disease he could never physically win.

For another, both mother and son were Loyola grads. Mary was revered for her teaching; Fr. Fitzgerald was unquestionably the most intelligent person I have ever met.

And now, I’m at Loyola—the law school at least—fielding article pitches rather than throwing them. As editor-in-chief of the law review, I’m always ready to listen.

The problem is people prefer the idea of a good piece to the painstaking work to produce it.

An interesting story, a gap in the law, a circuit split. Generally, they don’t have the saved drafts themselves—much less the months of research and sourcing and weaving. Few article alchemists out there. Cobbling a print volume together requires many hammers, many more nails.

There’s something about us in that: it’s easy to suggest, harder to do.

Maybe that’s the weekly reflection, on what we’re suggesting for others and on what we’re doing ourselves.

Sounds a bit more like a product from a living industry than a dying one.


In a profound act of courage and self-awareness, Fr. Fitzgerald addressed the Jesuit student body about his ALS diagnosis. There are more than a few suggestions to do found in there. “The longer-term future will be what it is. This day each one of us has the task in becoming the person that God calls us to be today. Let us now be about this task. This concludes this morning’s assembly.”