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Inside NCR

Paul Jeffrey has a passionate regard for people who, through war and other awful circumstances, find themselves on the margins. That’s why he was in Pakistan recently, visiting Afghan refugee camps. That’s why he can often be found in cultures that are in varying degrees of upheaval and disarray.

Often he reports on what the evening news has no time for, but it’s usually the most important part of the story. For instance, long before others, Jeffrey was following the work of the late Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera and the Catholic church’s Memory Project in Guatemala. He was on-site to report the protests of U.S. bombing practice on the island of Vieques and in remote Colombia to chronicle the U’wa Indians’ dispute with Occidental Petroleum. In his report in this issue (Page 12), he weaves a compelling tale of life in the refugee camps with the refugees’ concerns about the future of Afghanistan.

We treasure his reporting and his courage. I would be remiss if I didn’t also confess that one of the delights of working with him, all high-minded idealism aside, is the wonderful wit that often surfaces in exchanges with an exasperating editor. So, from a recent missive over some niggling detail: “I just want to write stories, take pictures, and survive the relentless lentils. Wouldn’t that make a great name for a rock band? Relentless Lentils.”

Come home soon, Paul.

The world of religion journalism will lose one of its best when Managing Editor Pamela Schaeffer changes careers at the beginning of the New Year.

NCR will certainly miss her uncompromising standards and her willingness to challenge everything from story ideas to the proper tone of a subhead in the middle of a story. Her commitment to clarity, accuracy and good writing some would say borders on the fanatical. But it’s good fanaticism, and NCR has been the beneficiary.

In her five years here, she has contributed not only distinguished writing on a host of issues, but has overseen the editing of some of the most demanding projects, including the award-winning investigative report on Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and the Philadelphia archdiocese and, more recently, the reports of sexual abuse of nuns by priests. See more about her future plans in her Perspective piece on Page 24.

Finally, I make a simple request for help.

NCR is in the midst of its annual Christmas campaign for new subscribers.

The strong outpouring of reaction in recent weeks made it clear that NCR offers many of you a view of church and world -- a mixture of reporting and opinion -- that is simply not available elsewhere. Many of you have expressed your appreciation in countless generous ways over the years.

If NCR is a significant part of your life, help us maintain our commitment to top-flight journalism by giving a gift subscription to that someone you know who could get excited over a grownup, intelligent discussion of faith and culture. Thanks for your help and support.

-- Tom Roberts

My e-mail address is troberts@natcath.org

National Catholic Reporter, December 14, 2001