Michael Martinez: Recent graduate — aspiring journalist
Imagine a journalism undergraduate who has already achieved more than many professional journalists. Enter Michael Martinez ’12, who received a dual degree in journalism and history this May. During his four years at University of Detroit Mercy, he served as sports editor, co-managing editor and, finally, editor-in-chief of The Varsity News. In addition to numerous prizes and scholarships, his accomplishments include an internship for Major League Baseball (MLB.com). Throw in a New York Times guest blog, plus a weekly Fox Sports column, and it all adds up to a promising career – before graduation. As an expression of gratitude, Martinez did a Scripture reading at the Inauguration Mass for UDM President Antoine Garibaldi. “UDM’s given me so much. This was a very small way I could give back,” he said.
For Martinez, writing is a lifelong passion. “I liked the idea of documenting events and having tangible evidence that something took place,” Martinez said. “I love everything about journalism; the thrill of deadline-writing, the importance of keeping those in power honest and accountable, the interaction with so many different people and the stories they’re willing to share. I’m typically a quiet, reserved person but I feel like when I put on my press pass I almost have super powers. It opens doors and introduces me to so many people I wouldn’t meet otherwise.”
Despite constantly evolving technology, Martinez does not think a writer’s essential mission will deviate. “Journalism will center around the ability to instantly share information that the Internet provides,” Martinez said. ”For all the change, though, some things will remain the same. People will still need to be given the news in a socially responsible way. Journalists just have new ways and new challenges in doing so.”
Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Tom Stanton, who served as both Martinez’s academic and The Varsity News advisor, concurred. “A journalist today must be able to report, write and promote a story in multiple ways: with text, photos and video; online, on the air and in print; through blogs, Twitter and Facebook,” he said. “Mike does all of those things well.”
In 2008, Martinez was a freshman in Stanton’s first class, “News Writing and Reporting.” According to Stanton, their rapport was immediate. “It was obvious from day one that Mike was going to be a special student,” Stanton recalled. “His talent was apparent in the first story he completed, and he possessed a drive to learn and improve.”
Stanton’s influence on Martinez was equally profound. “He’s been my mentor since I first arrived at UDM. He’s guided me through every story I’ve ever written,” Martinez said. “He’s kept me motivated and focused when I needed it and has pushed me to be the best for four years.” Under Stanton’s VN guidance, Martinez broke several important stories and also implemented significant editorial changes. “I am proud to say that in my four years, we were able to get news racks to display the papers and won more awards than we had in quite some time,” he said. “I wanted to make The VN a respected and visible presence at UDM.”
Martinez has fond recollections of other courses, too. “I particularly loved the documentary filmmaking course with Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Jason Roche. I took it my sophomore year, and it was the first time I had ever used a camera,” he said. “I also enjoyed my media ethics class with Adjunct Professor of Communications Dan Shine. There were no lectures or tests; we just talked about issues and real newsroom decisions that had to be made. Looking back, I probably learned more that way than any quiz or assignment.”
During recent summers, Martinez interned at the Cheboygan Daily Tribune and Mackinaw Journal, as well as Detroit’s Metro Times. He spent last summer at MLB.com in New York City, which he called "an experience of a lifetime.” According to Martinez, “I did a lot of work with the social media team, covered a Yankees game and filed a few stories on deadline, helping out the regular beat writer.” There were other bonuses. “It doesn’t get much better than walking around the Yankee clubhouse and interviewing guys like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Curtis Granderson,” he said. Martinez’s numerous achievements also include Michigan Press Association Foundation Scholarship; Society of Professional Journalists/Detroit, Larry Laurain Scholarship, and UDM’s own Communication Excellence Award and Neal Shine Excellence in Journalism Award.
Now, it is a bittersweet farewell to UDM, as Martinez prepares to start an internship at The Detroit News. “He grew from a quiet freshman to a self-assured senior, practicing and improving his craft, gaining deserved confidence along the way, taking on increasing levels of responsibility, becoming a mentor to others and building a reputation that led The Detroit News, Channel 7, foxsportsnet and The New York Times to use his expertise,” Stanton said. “In part because of Mike's achievements, we have a stable of young journalists eager to step into his shoes. And many of them are going to accomplish amazing things in their own right. But I'm going to miss Mike terribly. He has brought a lot of joy into my life.”