McGuire: find meaning in work
By JASON McFARLEY
While his family and friends held manual labor jobs, a high school- and college-aged Tim McGuire was pursuing one of his passions — writing — behind a typewriter in the newsroom.
For McGuire, now editor and senior vice president of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis-St. Paul, it was always important to do work that included not only his passion, but work that was also important.
"Important work was significant to me because my dad didn't do important work," McGuire, Notre Dame's journalist-in-residence, said in a lecture Tuesday. "He worked because he had to work. My dad's work always seemed to get more from him than he got from it."
In his lecture, "A Search for Calling — Can It Be Found in Journalism?" McGuire recounted to a Carey Auditorium audience Tuesday his own search for meaning in more than 30 years in the profession.
Few people would consider journalism a calling, according to McGuire, the current president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
That's because most people don't understand fundamental truths about the industry, he said. Discussing, for example, officials' dislike of newspapers that disclose the officials' secrets and confidential information, McGuire said: "A newspaper doesn't know what will come from sunshine. It only know that sunshine makes truth grow."
But McGuire, who has held newspaper management positions since he was 24, learned early in his career that, despite public criticism, journalists contribute to the "common good."
"Being editor of a newspaper is a calling to serve the common good," McGuire said. "After 30 years in American newspapers, it's clear to me that this is important work. It's work that makes society better."
And it's work that is distinctly a calling, not a job or career, the veteran editor said, because it links journalists to the communities they serve and promotes the common good.
"It can also be a calling because it can be a profoundly moral and spiritual exercise of meaning," McGuire said. "Somewhere along the line, my work journey collided with my faith journey in a way that allowed me to find special meaning in my profession."
"Gradually, I began to articulate for myself an insistence on fairness and balance in coverage. When you think about God in your work, you think more about how your stories affect people. You look differently at mistakes. You move mountains to create a faith and values section [of the newspaper] because you know it's the right thing to do," he said.
McGuire urged students interested in careers in journalism to make their work in the field about others — and not themselves.
"The only way to find meaning in your work is to understand that your work has to be for others," McGuire said.
He said he would vacate his position at the Star-Tribune in June 2002 to help others find meaning in their work.
He praised the media's coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes, saying his "personal sense of calling was reinvigorated by the sensational performance of my colleagues." He lauded the honesty, fairness and ethics in newspaper reports of the attacks and their aftermath.
"What we did during the horrible hours following the attacks seems so much more important than anything we did before," McGuire said.
The result was coverage that better linked newspapers to the communities they serve, according to McGuire.
And that's reinforced McGuire's confidence that his work was just as he always considered it — important.
All News Stories for Wednesday, October 10, 2001