“Architecture starts when you carefully put two bricks together. There it begins,” declared Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the famed German architect widely considered as the father of Modernism. Van der Rohe promoted his steel and glass designs, which he dubbed the “skin and bones” style, as simplistic yet inspiring edifices for the people who worked and resided in them.
Though my experience in architecture is limited to ineptly wielding a set of Lego blocks, I have to agree with the brick-by-brick method when it comes to Catholic journalism. This past week, I spent three days writing, proofreading, and assisting in some small ways at The Monitor offices and learned quite a lot about the gradual architectural work that goes into creating an issue of the biweekly newspaper.
As a freelance writer for a Catholic newspaper, I primarily work remotely, submitting my work electronically and keeping in touch via cell phone. I believe the last time I spent more than a few minutes in a newspaper office was while touring the local daily paper with my childhood Girl Scout troop. I remember a grizzled old-timer hand-laying type into galleys and noisy giant printing presses inking the information onto the large sheets of newsprint. (It just occurred to me: to my Brownie Scout eyes, a “grizzled old-timer” was most likely the age I am now!) I knew newspapers have come a long way, and I was looking forward to be a small part of the process to put the paper to bed and issue the large Back To School supplement.
The work pace amongst Monitor staff last week was as fast-paced as I had suspected. Local and national stories were proofread by three sets of eyes, then adapted to PDF form for publication. Graphics, photographs and captions were added to the page to bring the tales to life. Phones calls to sources clarified quotes and facts, and copy was written quickly and efficiently in order that the readers be moved, entertained, and inspired. (You’d be proud of me. I didn’t indulge my inner Lois Lane and yell “stop the presses”, but I did feel compelled once to address the acting managing editor as “Mr. Grant” in a Mary Tyler Moore-like quaver…)
The diverse topics covered in the issue and supplement had one thing in common: all were God-centered and reaffirmed our Catholic faith and way of life. Brick by brick, detail by detail, and story by story, The Monitor’s August 18 issue came to life and I became a small part of something important and beneficial to diocesan readers: a bit of the mortar between the bricks, I’d like to think.
Looks like van der Rohe had it right about building skyscrapers and Catholic media as well. The architect is known for another, more famous quote: “God is in the details”. This week, every week, Catholic press’ attention to dogma and details glorifies God for its readership. Pick up a copy and see what I mean.