ROME – I write with sad news for Crux, in a sense, but terrific news for all those interested in Catholic journalism and Church affairs, and especially good news for one of our own: Chris White, heretofore our national correspondent, has accepted a new position as the national correspondent of the National Catholic Reporter effective June 15.
White decided he wanted a new challenge and decided that NCR is a good fit, and the position is a recognition of his compelling work for us over the last three years. Since NCR is the same paper with which I started my career, and where I worked happily for almost seventeen years, I certainly can’t contest his judgment.
When I first got to know White, he was the director of Catholic Voices USA, which is the American branch of the Catholic communications enterprise founded by Austen Ivereigh, now better known as Pope Francis’s premier English-language biographer, and Jack Valero, the spokesman in the UK for Opus Dei.
One of the things I’d always admired about Catholic Voices was its commitment to balance and transcending the left/right divides in Catholicism, and I found that richly echoed in White. More than that, I sensed real curiosity, tremendous gifts as a conversationalist, and a genuine desire to understand complicated situations rather than simply imposing a prefabricated personal framework.
In other words, I sensed he had all the makings of a talented journalist, and I felt tremendously lucky when we were able to bring him on board in cooperation with our partners at the DeSales Media Group in the Diocese of Brooklyn, where he also served as a correspondent for the Tablet and a commentator for “Currents,” their flagship nightly news program.
What I’ve seen from White since he joined us exceeded even my dream-case scenario.
In baseball, scouts sometimes talk about a “five-tool player,” meaning someone who can run, field, throw, hit, and hit with power, which are the basic abilities that make up the game. Most players, even the great ones, can only do one or two really well, so someone who can do all five at a high level is a rarity indeed.
Journalistically speaking, White is a five-tool player. He can write, speak, report, analyze and package news, all at an exceedingly high level, and he’s any editor’s dream. Ask him to have a story to you by noon, he’ll have it 9:00 a.m.; ask him to cover one copy hole, he’ll cover five. Ask him what he thinks of some new development expecting one good insight, and he’ll give you a half-dozen.
Given all that, White’s departure from Crux definitely leaves a void, though under the capable leadership of our Managing Editor Charles Collins and the support of our partners, we’ll be fine. We’ll be announcing a replacement soon, though whoever it is will have big shoes to fill.
In the meantime, White will be a great addition to NCR. All I can say, Chris, is that if they take care of you half as well as they did for me over almost seventeen years, you’re in great hands. Fans of Chris’s work, and they are many, can rejoice that all they’ll be able to continue finding it at a sister outlet.
So, to Chris, from Rome: Arrivederci, meaning “until we see each other again,” and in bocca al lupo, which is way too hard to explain but basically means “good luck.”
And to readers of Crux, please keep checking in with us for the very best in smart, wired and independent Catholic journalism … which, for the record, is a tagline I once worked out with Chris White!
Follow John Allen on Twitter at @JohnLAllenJr.