Roger Ebert was "a newspaperman."
So said this paper's former publisher, John Barron, speaking at Monday morning's funeral for Ebert at Holy Name Cathedral.
And instantly that sentiment was tweeted out beyond the church walls, into the city and across the country, by a small army of current Sun-Times employees tapping on their smart phones from the pews.
We write our stories, just as ever. They appear in print but more quickly online. We blog. We tweet. We do radio and TV and podcasts. We're everywhere on Facebook.
Yet we slip and call ourselves newspapermen, not as Luddites or throwbacks, certainly not as sentimentalists. Not if we're smart.
We call ourselves newspapermen because the job title conveys more than that literal means of communication. It conveys, for a lot of us, our unabashed fascination with what's going on, our urgency to find stuff out and tell you just as fast as the latest technology allows.
To be a newspaperman is to chase the news and make sense of it and get it out, a calling that will barrel along after the last tree in Canada has been felled for the paper. To be a newspaperman is to love the whole game.
For Roger, the news business was always about "the fun, the unique set of characters, the pressure," Barron said, and the joy of being the first to know and tell.
A day will come when we are not newspapermen. The title will linger after the last printed newspaper rolls off the last press, the way an older generation called refrigerators "ice boxes" long after electricity and Freon replaced the block of ice. But as a working job title, the word will die. We know that.
In the meantime, though, forgive us if we cling to it -- newspaperman -- even as, like Roger, we tweet and blog and shovel out breaking news and investigations and features and commentary every which way.
Sonia Evans, Ebert's stepdaughter, affectionately joked at the funeral that Roger was "slightly obsessed" with Twitter.
Of course he was. He was a newspaperman.