Pat Mulcahy and Dorothy Grigg know why they believe abortion is wrong and know how to stop it. Just ask them.

I did. That’s what I do.

I’m a newspaperman – have been since the Carter administration, thank you.

Tagging along on the bus with Mulcahy and Grigg to March for Life in Washington, I got a crash course on the pro-life movement from two well-versed advocates.

They are not discouraged that, after they have been fighting the issue for 33 years, Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land.

They have a passion for the issue.

It’s what makes my job exciting.

Don’t get me wrong. I have interviewed pro-choice advocates who are just as impassioned. They believe abortion should remain legal and know how to preserve the right. Talking to them is just as exciting.

And I get paid for it.

Remember how great it was when your high school social studies teacher brought in the Civil War re-enactor to talk about the Battle of Gettysburg?

Not only did you get a break from the boring lectures and reading assignments, but you heard about violence and action from someone committed to preserving the events.

My job is like that. Almost every day I talk to people who are informed and fervent about everything from acid mine-drainage pollution and spot zoning to abortion and the war in Iraq.

Are we going to be tested on this?

In my case, the answer is always yes. And it’s always an essay exam.

The test is to present issues and convey sources’ passions without taking sides.

Often, that means finding an authority or expert just as impassioned and informed, but with an opposing viewpoint.

If I write about a controversial issue and get praises from one side and hate mail from the other, I haven’t done a good job. The best I hope for is to have both sides later tell me that I was fair.

I like it better when the person to be interviewed is fired up about something less controversial.

People such as:

Scientists Michael Liebman at Windber Research Institute or Richard Somiari at his ITSI-Biosciences lab talking about their search for cancer cures.

Richland Township zoning officer Mark Walker discussing community planning, constrution codes and land management.

Barry Bittman of Mind-Body Wellness Center in Meadville, Crawford County, promoting music therapy research and treatments.

Irving Cure, CamTran executive director, extolling mass transit’s role in traffic-choked, polluted cities – or even Johnstown.

Dr. Matthew Masiello of Memorial Medical Center making plans to combat public health issues and improve our quality of life.

Fouad ElBayly, president of the Islamic Center of Johnstown, fighting misconceptions about Muslims and their peaceful religion.

F. Nicholas Jacobs, Windber Medical Center and Research Institute president, talking about anything Windber.

Virtually anyone talking about a loved one for an obituary story commemorating the person’s life.

Humans like to talk about things they value. It’s interesting and educational to let them share.

I recently was on the other side of the table when a college student stopped by the newsroom to interview a few of us about journalism.

Surrounded by ink-bleeding, veteran newspaper professionals, I thought she probably was having trouble keeping up with our barrage of information.

Leaning back, I said something like:

“You are experiencing what I love about a reporters’ job: Talking to people who are excited about what they are doing.”



Randy Griffith can be reached at 532-5057 or rgriffith@tribdem.com.

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