USA Today Reporter Patrick O'Driscoll Lands on His Feet

Thank goodness the market for public-relations experts appears to be holding steady, or else all those journalists who've left their newspaper jobs of late would be in even tougher shape than they already are.

Witness Patrick O'Driscoll. As noted in this December 20, 2007 Message column, the longtime USA Today scribe was among 43 editorial types at the publication to accept a buyout offer. Since then, he's been looking for a new gig, in between undergoing a pair of total-knee-replacement surgeries, and he just succeeded. He is now a public affairs specialist with the National Park Service, operating out of the Lakewood branch office, and he sounds mighty happy about it, in part because he sees connections between his duties and his previous career.

"Even though I have now (as half of the flacks I sent this message to have joked to me in their replies) 'gone over to the dark side' (not a characterization I agree with, BTW; it's different for every person), I was hired because I AM a veteran newspaper journalist, not in spite of that," O'Driscoll notes via an e-mail that followed his initial announcement. "I'll bring the same sense of inquiry, questioning and perspective to whatever I'm working on. But more, I am bringing an unafraid-to-take-a-call attitude of common sense and straight talk in dealing with reporters and editors, too."

O'Driscoll concedes that "I'll sorely miss the only other job I held as an adult: newspaper journalist." However, he adds that he's "excited that I'll get to work in the field that, far and away, I have enjoyed covering the most in 33 years of newspapering: public lands, natural resources, wildlife and wilderness, recreation and natural and human history."

As the enthusiasm of these observations makes plain, O'Driscoll has landed on his feet, despite the gimpy knees. -- Michael Roberts

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