Hello ladies and gentle (or not so) men.
Since I am new to this newspaper, though not new to journalism, an introduction of sorts seems to be in order.
My name is TJ Martinell. I am the new reporter for the Kirkland Reporter.
For some of you whose attention span is confined to that of a Twitter message, this may be a sufficient introduction. Those of you who prefer a more thorough description and greater elaboration, please feel free to continue reading.
I will be covering pretty much everything in Kirkland, including City Council, education, politics, wonderfully confusing controversies, and all other sorts of trouble that make life enjoyable. You may see me around town with my notepad tucked in my back pants pocket, a camera slung around my neck and a lost look about me, probably because I am actually lost.
They say journalism is a lifestyle – I actually have no idea if anyone said that, but I said it, so I guess that’s technically somebody. It’s also been a true statement for my life. Growing up on a nutritious entertainment diet of 1940 Max Fleischer Superman cartoons, the Superman Animated Series, and the occasional black and white film, I developed an unhealthy interest in being a newspaper reporter and superhero. Unfortunately, after several repeated attempts at flying that resulted in a bloody nose, I was forced to hang up the cape forever.
The reporter part, on the other hand, fit well with my incessant proclivity for asking questions that needed to be answered right away.
Think of that annoying kid from the film Home Alone (Does this have four-wheel drive? Do these vans get good gas mileage? How many people can this carry?). Now think of him grown up, slightly less socially aware, and asking the exact same questions for a living.
Of course, a more accurate description of me would be more along the lines of a 27-year-old going on 87. I am the not-so-proverbial young curmudgeon who still answers calls on his “dumb” phone while those who were around when phones were still confined to the kitchen wall engage in conversations with Siri on their iPhone that are slightly more intelligent and thought-provoking than a presidential debate.
I love technology. I really do. But I’ll adapt to change when I’m good and ready.
I got my first gig in reporting at the Sammamish High School newspaper in my hometown of Bellevue. I was a writer and then the news editor, wandering about hallways and in awe of my newly-found power to pull kids out of class to interview them, while confronting teachers during lunch hour in the hopes of uncovering a salacious scandal.
Fast forward to college, where in the midst of my sophomore year I realized that I actually needed to get a job once I graduated. Somehow, I decided getting a journalism degree was the sure-fire path to a viable career.
As they say, it sounded like a good idea at the time.
I wrote for an independent student newspaper on campus and then for the official student paper, where I cemented my desire to become a newspaper reporter and probably drove half the university insane in the process. Whether that had anything to do with my joy for reporting remains off the record.
After graduating, I spent two years at Sound Publishing’s newspaper in Maple Valley, Covington and Black Diamond. Inasmuch as the cities contrast greatly with Kirkland in just about every way, some things never change. They grappled with people wanting to sell marijuana despite a city moratorium, and school bonds that fail.
Apparently it’s a Washington thing.
In addition to reporting, penning columns and editorials has always been a special joy of mine. Expect to see them often.
On a side note, I also have a far worse obsession with writing fiction, an addiction I developed in college. I recently signed a book contract with a Spokane publisher for a science fiction novel I wrote. It deals with – surprise – newspapers in an age where information on the Internet is completely controlled and monitored. Some of you are probably wondering “How is that science fiction? It happens every day!”
Last year, I left journalism for a while and wasn’t certain if I would return. In the meantime, the hiatus gave me the chance to step away from stories I had immersed myself in for months and reflect on them from a distance. Sometimes, stepping away and examining something, whether it be a moment in life or a situation you’re in, gives you a better perspective on it and greater clarity. If you stare at a mountain too closely all you will see is rock.
But enough of the philosophizing. I’m here and eager to write stories that I’m sure will have you jumping out of your bed every Friday morning and picking up that newspaper before you’ve even had the chance to fill up that coffee mug.
TJ Martinell is the city reporter for the Kirkland Reporter.