When I was teaching at St. Thomas, an old newspaper colleague - then the college relations director at Carleton - would regularly give me a not-so-gentle shot about how much smarter he thought the Carls (students) were than the Tommies.
I’d counter that while Carleton students were congratulating themselves about how smart they were 10 years after graduation, my Tommie students were out in the world kicking butt and taking names – trying to make the Republic a little better.
That old argument came to mind as I thought about the Republican National Convention last month. Four former editors of The Aquin had a role, from the inside or outside, in the gathering that attracted the country’s attention.
Bill Nowling, Aquin editor in 1991, came to St. Paul as the spokesperson for the Michigan Republican Party. He must have been important because he was interrupted a half dozen times during supper by urgent text messages on his Blackberry. Nowling, the insider, got his start covering the State House for the Fargo Forum. I gave him a little shot for selling out, but I picked up the check.
Chris Havens (2000), a Star Tribune reporter, also spent his time inside the Xcel Energy Center, talking with the delegates from Minnesota. “The convention was pretty scripted,” Havens said, “but it was exciting to see that mass of people in downtown St. Paul.”
Outside the Xcel on the last night of the convention, Amy Forliti and Jon Krawczynski, both reporters for the Minneapolis bureau of the Associated Press, covered the final anti-war march. Before it was over, police threw percussion grenades and tear gas and made nearly 400 arrests.
One of those grenades hit Krawczynski (2001), and police arrested him and Forliti (1995) for unlawful assembly. “We were on the on Marion Street bridge and couldn’t get out of the crowd,” Forliti said. “It was loud and scary, especially since I saw Jon go down.”
Forliti and Krawczynski contributed crisp, clear and concise coverage of the convention protests. Once they were arrested, their colleagues took over the reporting because the pair had become part of the story.
Krawczynski is back at his regular sports beat. Forliti is a spot news veteran who covered the murder of seven at Red Lake High School in 2005. “I love to be in the thick of things,” she concluded.
Precisely the point I was trying to make to my Carleton friend.