Archive for November, 2011

Memories, like the corners of my…doorways?

Posted on November 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

I don’t consider myself old, exactly, but I am at the age when I’ve begun to notice some changes that I’ve always associated with, well, old people.

 Like aching joints. Wanting to go to sleep at 7:30 in the evening.  And forgetting.  Lots of forgetting…

 So I was both heartened and fascinated by some new research by Notre Dame Psychology Professor Gabe Radvansky that shows that doorways – not aging – may be responsible for those times that I’ve walked into a room and completely forgotten why.

 C’mon. You know what I’m talking about.

 Turns out that the brain considers doorways “event boundaries” and files away information, separating episodes of activity into different compartments, making it difficult to retrieve a decision or thought that was created in a different room.

 Makes sense to me.

 Now if only I could find research showing that wanting to eat dinner at 4:30 is a sign of superior intelligence, not aging…


“…where the Catholic Church does its thinking”

Posted on November 11, 2011 in Uncategorized


As the tragedy of the Penn State scandal unfolded this week, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to the sex-abuse crisis that has plagued– and to an extent, still is plaguing — the Catholic Church.  The silence. The denial. The pain of innocent vicitms.

The worst of the sex-abuse crisis in the Catholic Church seems to be over — and whether or not you agree with the punishments and consequences, at least it’s out there. It’s acknowledged.  It’s changed the Church forever.

Father Ted Hesburgh has been famously quoted as saying, “Notre Dame is where the Catholic Church does its thinking.” 

In the wake of the Catholic Church’s transformative tragedy, Notre Dame economist Dan Hungerman has crystallized Father Ted’s saying with his recent study on the effects of the sex-abuse crisis on the Catholic Church, which show that the Baptist Church in America has benefitted most — both financially and in terms of new members.

Hungerman’s study suggests that instead of Catholics substituting their religion for a similar tradition, such as Episcopal or Anglican as would be expected, the majority of Catholics chose the Baptist faith — a Protestant faith most distant in culture and tradition from Catholicism.  Tragic on so many levels and understandable on just as many — this need to get as far away from the pain and betrayal.

Yet through it all, Notre Dame continues to encourage its scholars to create new knowledge and engage the Catholic Church in its thinking. Even if it’s painful and exposes tragedy and sickness and betrayal.  That’s what being a university means. 




The Danger of Pitching a Trend Story

Posted on November 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

It wasn’t something I’d thought too much about —  until it happened to me…

I had pitched a great Notre Dame trend story to a journalist at a top newspaper. Not only did he go for the pitch, he wanted an exclusive — Yay me!  So I thought…

After arranging several phone interviews between the journalist and the director of the program being featured in the story, then being copied on their email exchanges, I began to notice a shift in the focus of the story.  Hmmmmm. Subtle at first, then clearly a new, sexier angle that  had only a little bit of a Notre Dame connection began floating to the top.  Then the shift  began pushing Notre Dame farther and farther into the background of this story.

It was a runaway train and there was nothing I could do about it.

The story came out a few days later, and as I had feared,  Notre Dame had been relegated to two lines on the second page of the story, just one of several institutions contributing to this national trend.

 I wanted to scream. Then cry. I had done the leg work. I had developed a compelling pitch. Notre Dame was on the cutting edge of this trend, so how could we NOT be central to the story?

So what did I learn from this?

  • First, don’t beat yourself up too much.  I mean, you tried, right? You can’t control what the journalist decides to write about.
  • Don’t let one bad experience prevent you from pitching a great trend story again. Next time, you could hit the jackpot!
  • You’ve made a new media friend. Appreciate that the journalist is likely to open your next email and read your pitch since you provided such a great idea, even if it didn’t go the way you had hoped.
  • Don’t be afraid to cash in…”You owe me one” is a phrase that I’m not afraid to use.