Q-and-A with Mary McConnell

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 13 2015 6:57 a.m. MDT

Question: Describe a formative moment or circumstance in your life:

Answer: The year I was turning 40, my husband and I decided to take a yearlong "timeout" in Utah. He accepted a visiting professorship at the University of Utah College of Law, and I left my corporate job and began home-schooling our three children. Our year off turned into 14 years as we fell in love with Utah and the way we lived in Utah — the hiking, the skiing, the family togetherness.

Another formative moment was when I — almost inadvertently — became a teacher. The director of the International Baccalaureate program at West High School called me at the beginning of the school year, in a panic, because the IB history teacher had just quit. Since I had studied 20th century diplomatic history (the subject covered by the exam) in graduate school, I stepped in … and discovered to my surprise that I loved teaching high school students. I joke that when I had the inevitable mid-life crisis, instead of getting a convertible or a new spouse, I really went crazy and became a teacher. But I loved it, and still love my ongoing relationship with students.

Question: Why did you agree to serve on the Deseret News Editorial Advisory Board?

Answer: I am deeply interested in, indeed invested in, the debate over educational reform. I think that as a nation, we are finally ready to embrace serious change, and Utah — with its long-standing commitment to families and children — is a great place for this debate to flourish. I'd like to see the revamped Deseret News play a role here.

Question: Where do you see the future of journalism?

Answer: I read the lead articles from four newspapers every morning — and I read all of them online. I also follow a number of blogs that cover politics, economics, education and religion. Journalism is increasingly electronic and increasingly interactive. Journalists have a potentially much wider audience, but they have to expect that audience to talk back and even challenge their facts and assumptions. I believe this will improve the quality of journalists, and journalism … but the transition will not always be comfortable.

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