As the story goes, back when the Post
was changing from an afternoon to a morning paper, several writers were talking about how their lives were going to be altered by the new deadlines when John McGuire piped up: "Well, it won't bother me. My deadline's the same -- April, July, October ..." Not that John McGuire isn't capable of covering breaking news -- he once covered the county-police beat -- it's just that to do the quality of feature writing that McGuire is known for takes time. The news reporter wants the facts. So does the feature writer -- the facts, and all the nubby, poignant little details woven into the facts. The human side of the story, something you don't get in a 10-minute phone interview. He chooses meaty topics, often sweeping topics, such as Fairmount Park or the last working grain elevator in St. Louis County. His writing has style, verve and wit, and it holds reader interest. According to fellow Post
-ie Bill McClellan, McGuire's prowess comes from both personal and professional attributes: "People immediately trust John. They open up to him, as well they should, because though he often writes with humor, it's always a very gentle humor -- never, ever mean." Also, says McClellan, "He's always well prepared. Whatever his subject, he really looks into it before he writes, whereas so many of us tend to wing it. He's been around long enough that he has this institutional memory, and yet he's always in the morgue looking up old clips, finding connections between things." Other defining McGuire qualities are an eye for quirky details and a knack for turning a phrase. In a recent feature on Jesuit historian Rev. William B. Faherty, McGuire wrote of the priest's daily visits to the archival annex on the St. Louis University campus, "It's a quiet place, but then he's something of a quiet man." It's a nice touch, and it's something he does as well as anybody, if not better.