Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 16, 2003
God's call led me to the newspaper trenches
By GLEN ARGAN
On June 15, I will mark an anniversary that has some importance to me, even though no one else (until now) knows about it. That day will be my 25th anniversary as a professional journalist. On June 15, 1978, I began work as a reporter at the Red Deer Advocate.
I had just finished two years of teaching philosophy and logic at the University of Regina and becoming a reporter represented a major cultural shift for me. Some might view the journey from academia to journalism as a step or two down in society's intellectual hierarchy.
I never saw it that way. I had occasionally been put off by a certain snootiness I found in some corners of academia and was glad to move far away from that. I rejoiced in the egalitarian attitudes of the newsroom.
But it was much more than that. When I was a pre-adolescent, it had been my dream to become a newspaper editor and now I was beginning to realize that dream. That dream had been almost forgotten through my long years of high school and university, but when it came time to make a career decision, there was little question about where I wanted to go.
I was fortunate to be hired by Ted Bower, The Advocate's editor, who felt my master of arts would be at least as valuable as a journalism degree to his newspaper. Not many editors felt that way. I spent three years in Red Deer, reporting mostly on politics and city hall, and falling in love with Central Alberta.
Since then, I've been editor of the WCR for more than 16 of the remaining 22 years. All I can say is thank you to God for bringing me here and supporting me as well as to two archbishops and the more than 100 people who've served on our board of directors for putting up with my mistakes and idiosyncrasies. Then, of course, there are the staff who have put up with those idiosyncrasies on a daily basis and act as though they don't exist.
Journalism is a noble calling, one that is today being cheapened by media owners whose main interest seems to be in slashing staff and increasing the bottom line. We can have disagreements over the direction our society ought to be headed - that's part of the core of journalism - but when highly profitable newspapers are being gutted of their most experienced staff to save a buck, it is a sad day for all of Canada.
For myself, I have no regrets. I learned a lot from each of the daily newspapers where I worked - The Advocate, The Winnipeg Sun and The Edmonton Journal. And I am proud to have been part of an experiment in community journalism in Winnipeg - Inner City Voice - where for three years I edited a newspaper that told the stories of some of society's most forgotten people.
Of course, the crowning jewel in my career has been the WCR. It has been a privilege and a challenge to work for a newspaper committed to telling the stories of the followers of Jesus Christ and which aims to help those followers increase their understanding of the Church's teachings in today's world.
In my heady days as a university student, I wanted to change the world in line with some ideas I had. Now, I realize that the only desirable change is that which is in accord with the Church's teachings. The Catholic journalist is a proponent of dialogue, but also a servant of the Church. That doesn't mean you shut your conscience down and let the Church do your thinking. If anything, it means your conscience works on overdrive, always trying to be sensitive to both life and morality.
There are many worthy callings in God's kingdom - God calls each of us to a unique personal vocation. Each is important in making the Good News more of a reality in our world. I believe I have answered God's call to me and I try to live that out as best I can on a daily basis.
But being a journalist is only part of my call. It is of significance to me that June 15 this year falls on Father's Day, the day where another large part of my call is honoured. That day we will be celebrating, not my career as a journalist, but my life as a father to four darling girls. Such a celebration may well fall into the category of keeping my priorities straight.
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