Someone once accused me of interviewing managing editor candidates as if I were interviewing for a friend. I stand convicted. And about 27 years ago in Tim McGuire’s case, as in others since then, I have been blessed by that friendship. Truly blessed.
I bring this up because Tim, editor of the Star Tribune in the Twin Cities for a number of years, has now left the newspaper business to enter a new phase of his life. Among other pursuits, he will be writing a syndicated column and consulting and speaking on spirituality and the workplace. And I didn’t want his departure to pass without saying something about his leadership. And about our friendship.
That friendship started in Corpus Christi, Texas. Tim was 26 years old, having been an editor for a couple of years by then, and wasn’t what you would call the shy and retiring type. What he was… was really smart. And talented, ambitious, opinionated, candid, caring, sensitive to others, and dedicated to excellence. Today, he is all of those things and more.
If, indeed, as Tim often says, what journalists do is a calling, then he answered that call, and answered it well, long ago. And because he did, the Star Tribune, the Twin Cities, and our industry benefited greatly. Because he did, the legacy he leaves in newsrooms across this land is one of compassion, of inclusion, of integrity. Because he did, he is leaving a clear sense, and a firmly grounded set of directions, on what quality leadership is all about.
Because he did, my life has been made richer and fuller. As have the lives of many others.
When I think of Tim, I picture him as a young boy, physically challenged and wearing braces, unable to do many things other children could do, like climbing a fence without getting stuck and having to battle to get over it, or being that middle linebacker he always wanted to be. But he never stopped trying to do and to be those things. And he never stopped learning.
When I think of Tim, I think of something he talks about a lot…stewardship. I speak of stewardship and its meaning in early Greek writings. Management of one’s estate, directly connected to responsibility, to service, to accountability for the use of power, directly connected to caring for others — concepts that exist at the very core of the personal and professional ethics and values of the news business. Concepts that exist at Tim’s core.
When I think of Tim, I think of his passion, his dedication, and his personal convictions that have been the pillars underlining his stewardship and his leadership. Tim has never been trapped in the net of fixed attitudes like so many others in our business. He has never lived in fear of change and has instead embraced it with the joy of discovery. He has never wallowed in the whining of so many of our colleagues, but rather preached against it and searched for solutions. He has never shied away from looking in the mirror to learn from his own failures so that he could help build a better tomorrow, for his paper, for his community, for his colleagues.
But to know the Tim behind the titles, all you need to do is to see him with his family. All you need to do is to witness the love and respect and admiration that he shares with his wife, Jean, and they in turn with their three children.
All you need to do is to see the excitement in his eyes when a good story is in the works, measure his courage when he faces another physical or moral challenge, or hear his ear-shattering laugh when he — or someone else — says something funny.
All you need to do is know how deep his spiritual beliefs are and how he has carried those beliefs from Sunday to Monday and beyond, always searching for the common good, always searching for new knowledge, always searching for answers to the toughest questions.
I indeed have been blessed with Tim’s deep and lasting friendship. The American Society of Newspaper Editors was blessed this past year with his leadership as its president. Journalism was blessed with his wise gifts.
And now may he be blessed as he climbs his next fence.