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Thanks, Mike

When I started at the Catholic Herald, Charlie Carruth was the editor. He was an older, gray-haired man who looked a lot like Perry White, the crusty newspaper editor in the Superman stories. Mike Flach looked a lot like Clark Kent — dark hair, glasses. One day I pointed this out to Mike, who said, “You know who that makes you?” I laughed and said, “Yeah.” But Mike was quick to say, “Jimmy Olson.”

Thus began our 35 years of working together.

The struggles in those days included trying to please Mr. Carruth, a no-nonsense, formidable, often-opinionated Southern gentleman, and keeping up with all the assignments. Mike and I divided up the work, tackled evening and weekend events, wrote, photographed and produced each weekly issue. Oh, and all this on typewriters; but they were IBM Selectrics, so we were styling with the newfangled backspace/erase key.

Sometime later, we bought Kaypros, a desktop computer with a detachable keyboard, which Mr. C insisted we cover every night with a plastic dustcover.

The production process was tedious then. We reported, took photos, wrote, edited and then sent our typewritten articles to the printing plant in Gaithersburg, Md., by courier at the end of every day. The following day the typeset copy would be couriered back to us in long strips that we would wax and carefully cut with Exacto knives to lay out on tabloid-size pages. At 5 a.m. every Wednesday we would go to the plant to make final edits and a couple hours later, we’d check the first copies, literally hot off the press.

As the years went by, we added to the staff, and when Mr. C retired in 1991, Mike became editor and I took over as managing editor.

Shortly after that transition, another transition happened — from paste-up to desktop publishing. It was monumental.

Looking back, we’ve always been on the cutting edge, with those first Kaypros and launching our website in 1996, one of the first Catholic publications to do so; we also got the domain name catholicherald.com.

I started the Catholic Herald’s Twitter account in 2008 and we were on Facebook shortly after. In 2016, I squeezed into a coffin-size supply closet outfitted with acoustic panels and a battery-operated light to launch our podcast.

We expanded our social media offerings, now on YouTube, Libsyn and Instagram, we haven’t missed a beat since those early days of backspacing to edit.

Mike and I have had many adventures with the Catholic Herald, some together and some on our own. In 1992, we traveled to the Dominican Republic when Pope John Paul II celebrated the 500th anniversary of Catholicism on the island. We made a side trip to the fairly new diocesan mission in Banica, where Father Gerry Creedon hosted us. We followed Father Gerry’s lead in eating goat, drinking well water (something we regretted for the next six months) and comparing notes on the size of the tarantulas in our respective quarters (the convent and the rectory). We rode in Father Gerry’s truck to the end of the road and then waded through narrow rivers up hills into places we’d never dream we’d visit. As journalists, the stories we told from there and our other travels were remarkable and, for us, life-changing.

Mike did turn down one travel opportunity to Germany in 2006. He asked if I wanted to go instead. It was on that trip I began dating my now-husband, Chris Gunty, also a Catholic journalist. Thanks, Mike.

For more than three decades, Mike and I have nurtured, refined and embraced all that the Catholic Herald encompasses and we’ve enjoyed the journey. But we endured tragedies too, some personal losses, and some public with the death of Bishop John Keating, the resignation of Pope Benedict, the church clergy sex abuse scandals, and the good men and women religious and laity who came and who we lost for one reason or another. We’ve been privileged to meet and work with so many incredible people along the way on our staff and in the pews.

Our work has not gone unnoticed. The numerous awards we have received are humbling and on boastful days, they confirm what we dare to think about the great work we have done.

Thanks, Mike, for all the great years doing what we both have loved for so long, telling the story of the diocese. You must know how very glad I am that we’ve had this time together.

Signed,

Jimmy 

 

 

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