About Elaine McArdle

Elaine McArdle
Elaine McArdle

I feel unbelievably lucky to be a journalist.

It's not only the greatest job on earth—fascinating, moving, poignant, fun—but an honor and a privilege to be a member of the Fourth Estate. Especially now, when its role in our democracy has never seemed more critical—or more under siege.

For the past 30-plus years, I've listened to hundreds and hundreds of people share their stories with me, often at very difficult points in their lives; witnessed the very best and worst of the human condition; labored over long feature stories and beat tight deadlines for news; and worked for months on difficult investigative pieces—stories that had to be told and kept me up late at night worrying that I'd done everything I could to get it right.

I've loved every second of it. Even when it was really hard, or painful, or exhausting. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I've seen the beauty of our world and its ugliness. I've met so many remarkable people all over the country, including my colleagues in the news industry—wise-cracking romantics posing as cynics.

As my childhood friends in Canberra, Australia, will tell you, I've always loved writing. At the wonderful Centenary College of Louisiana, in Shreveport, I was editor of the newspaper and dreamed of a career as journalist. Unsure of how to make that happen, I impulsively headed to Vanderbilt University Law School.

Loved law school—hated practicing law. After a year with a big corporate firm in Austin, Texas—a city I chose for its music and progressive politics—I quit. I didn't have a job but hoped to talk some newspaper somewhere into hiring me.

I got very lucky. The Register, a spectacular and storied alt-paper on Cape Cod, gave me a shot—and I've never looked back. My editors there—I mean you, Dan and Dana—were tremendous and exacting journalists who taught us old-school, feet-on-the-ground reporting, and helped us wrestle with thorny issues of journalism ethics.

Since that auspicious beginning, I've been a staff reporter or editor at a number of publications. I've also written for a long list of magazines and newspapers including the Boston Globe, Boston Globe Magazine, Boston Magazine, Harvard Law Bulletin, Harvard Ed. Magazine, Northeastern Law Magazine, and many more.

I've taught media law to law students and to practicing lawyers, with a focus on the Pentagon Papers case and other landmark decisions upholding the importance of a free press. I've taught non-fiction writing and "The Art of the Interview" at Grub Street, Boston's phenomenal writing center and community, and investigative interviewing skills to criminal defense lawyers and investigators at the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the public defender agency for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

For eight years at Harvard Law School, I was director of student journals and then Communications Director for the Clinical and Pro Bono Programs, where I had the privilege of working with inspiring students and faculty who gave free or low-cost legal services to thousands of people in need.

I've co-written two books, including, with the magnificent Barbara K. Lipska, The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery, about Barbara's remarkable journey into and back out of mental illness. It's been an exceptionally rewarding experience to help Barbara share her incredible story. It's our hope that the book will expand our compassion for, and understanding of, people who suffer from mental illness.

After many happy years in Boston, I now live in Portland, Oregon, with my husband Jack. I'm a senior editor at UU World, where my writing focuses on social justice issues and where I work with people deeply devoted to making our world a more just and loving place for everyone.

In addition to spending time with my family and friends, I love yoga, walking all over the city, and surfing whenever I can. And writing.