03/07/2011 07:55 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Big Town, Small Town, Big Time, Journalists From Boston University

Boston University could not have produced two more different journalists than my friends Joe Nocera and Samantha Swindler.

Joe graduated from Boston University in 1974, seven years before Samantha was born. (Samantha was in the class of 2002.) Born in Rhode Island, Joe has spent most of his life in the Northeast, at the biggest of big time publications.

Samantha's journalism career has taken her from Jacksonville Texas, to Corbin Kentucky, where she served as editor of an award winning newspaper, to Oregon. At age 29, Swindler is the publisher and editor of the Headlight Herald in Tillamook, Oregon.

All of those cities and publications are a long way from Boston.

Before coming to the New York Times as a business columnist, Joe spent ten years at Fortune Magazine, including a stint as Executive Editor. He wrote A Piece of the Action, one of the best business books ever written, and co-authored All The Devils Are Here, a big time best seller about the financial crisis.

Joe is taking a big step forward when the joins the opinion page of the New York Times in April. That will make him one of the most influential columnists in the world.

Although Joe has made many people, including Steven Jobs, angry with things he has written, I doubt that he has had his life in danger.

Samantha was compelled to start carrying a gun and obtain a concealed carry permit.

An investigation that Swindler spearheaded lead to the indictment of her local sheriff on numerous counts of abuse of public trust and tampering with physical evidence.

For her "courage, integrity and tenacity in rural journalism," in both Kentucky and Texas, Swindler was awarded the Tom and Pat Gish award by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, which is based at the University of Kentucky.

"Samantha Swindler has demonstrated the tenacity, courage and integrity that we had in mind when we created the award," said Al Cross, Director of the Institute for Rural Journalism.

The Gish award is named for Tom and Pat Gish, crusading and fearless journalists who founded the Mountain Eagle in Whitesburg Kentucky. Their son, Ben Gish is editor of the Mountain Eagle and understood the tremendous pressure that Swindler was under.

"It would be impossible for a reporter/editor at a large metropolitan daily to understand the danger Swindler faced," said Gish.

Boston University has to be proud of Joe Nocera. He has had a tremendous career and moving into a position where he can influence world opinion. At the biggest paper in America's biggest city, Joe will move markets and help set the political and business agenda for the nation.

Boston University should also be proud of Samantha Swindler as well. She has hammered home a point we sometimes forget.

That one person, with courage, persistence and a strong sense of justice, can make a difference in their community. No matter how big or the city or the publication they represent.

I'm proud of both of them. And proud to be their friends.

Don McNay, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, CSSC of Richmond, Kentucky is the founder of McNay Settlement Group.

He is the author of the book, Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You Win the Lottery.

He has appeared on the CBS Evening News With Katie Couric along with numerous other television and radio programs.

You can read more about Don at