posted on: Thursday January 14, 2016
I came to Providence College as a wide-eyed freshman in the fall of 1974. The country was still reeling from the Watergate scandal and President Nixon’s resignation one month earlier. I was enthralled with the idea of becoming a great investigative journalist. It was still two years away from the movie All the President’s Men featuring Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford as the two Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story, but I was riveted reading much of the newspaper coverage about it. Back then, there were two newspapers in Providence, the Providence Journal, published every morning, and the Evening Bulletin, which came out in the afternoon. I was an Evening Bulletin guy and I devoured the paper, reading it cover to cover every day.
I had been writing for my high school newspaper and my best friend was an aspiring sports writer. We talked journalism all the time. There was no journalism major at PC, so I majored in English. (The College did offer one course in journalism at the time, taught by the now-retired Professor Jane Lunin Perel, who brought her own unique style and personality to the subject.) It took me a few years to get squared away balancing academics and a part-time job, and it wasn’t until my junior year that I began writing for The Cowl. By then, I had already turned away from the thought of a career in investigative journalism, and the paper had a need for feature writers, so that was where I landed.
I worked under Mike Delaney (who later became the long-time photography editor of the Providence Journal) and Richard Ratcliffe, now a local attorney. Senior year, the Editor-in-Chief was Frank Fortin, a good friend and the son of legendary PC Shakespeare professor Dr. Rene Fortin. Frank later became the editor of Providence Business News.
In those days, newspapers were typeset with lead type. Deadlines were earlier in the process to allow for the proper lead time, and there was very little margin for error. I remember the editorial staff “living” in The Cowl office during the several days it took to edit each edition of the paper and get it produced.
I was given great latitude with much of my writing, and produced a number of columns and features for the paper. None of them were particularly memorable, nor did I achieve any great recognition on campus as a writer of note. (My former English professors can vouch for that!) Still, I learned discipline in completing assignments, writing to a word count, and how to write on deadline. All of that was good preparation for what, thus far, has been a 35-year career in public relations.