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Photo (above) courtesy Bethany Schwan

March 27, 2003
Scripps Howard Visiting Professional Chair brings professional world to the classroom
By Ciare Thorn

Getting the story and getting it right has always been the professional objective of journalist Bradley Martin. As the 2002-03 Scripps Howard Visiting Professional Chair, he is sharing this passion with students studying at Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

In 1997, the Scripps Howard Foundation committed $1.5 million to the endowment that supports the Scripps Howard Visiting Professional Chair. Earnings from the endowment support the chair during his or her stay at the University. Judy Clabes, CEO and President of the Scripps Howard Foundation, says that the visiting professional gains much from the classroom experience because, "no one teaches without learning."

She is extremely satisfied with the caliber of the professionals to which Ohio University students have been exposed. "I am very proud to be participating in something so positively related to our foundation's namesake," she says.

quoteAs the chair holder, Martin committed to a one-year stay at Ohio University to teach courses pertaining to his field of expertise. This unique position allows students the opportunity to have meaningful interaction with an individual currently immersed in their chosen career.

Martin is pleased to be this year's recipient. "E.W. Scripps was a fascinating guy," he says, laughing. "I am delighted to know that his money is paying my salary."

A graduate of Princeton University with a bachelor of arts in history, Martin had well-defined goals of becoming a lawyer, politician and diplomat - just not necessarily in that order. His career plans took a bit of a detour when, at the age of 22, he joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to Bangkok, Thailand.

He became engrossed with journalism after realizing the "mass untruths" that were being published in popular American periodicals concerning what he termed "our nation's war" in Vietnam. It was then that he made it his goal to get the story and to get it right.

Martin, determined to stake a claim in the journalistic profession, returned to the United States, seeking a job with the Charlotte Observer. He had no formal journalistic background - no clips, no portfolio. Looking past his inexperience, the paper assigned Martin to a beat.

During his undergraduate years at Princeton, Martin had acquired an affinity for all things Asian. He studied Chinese for a year, falling in love with the language and the culture. Once his interest in journalism grew, he fostered a desire to hone his journalistic skills in an Asian setting.

Martin realized his dream when the managing editor of the Baltimore Sun sent him on an assignment to Tokyo. There, Martin opened a new bureau for the Sun. It was during this time Martin began writing a book about North Korea, a tome due to publishers this July.

Since first whetting his whistle for the Sun, Martin has built an impressive journalistic resume. When China opened its doors to journalists in 1979, he was there. He has worked for the Wall Street Journal's Asian edition, later becoming Newsweek's Tokyo bureau chief. Martin was most recently the editor and bureau chief of Asia Financial Intelligence as well as a co-founder and managing editor of Asia Times Online.

Martin's initial contact with Ohio University came in 1992, when he spoke about Asia on campus. At that time, he began to toy with the idea of teaching journalism, staying in contact with the University. Later, he applied for and became the Scripps Howard Visiting Professional Chair for the 2002-03 school year.

His goal in the classroom is for his students to "learn to write the more complex stories, those that will keep the reader reading instead of getting their news from the television or radio." Due to his own experiences with faulty media, he places weighty emphasis on being well versed in world history.

Martin designs his lesson plans so that students must learn the history behind what they study. "If you don't know the history you cannot report on the current events correctly," Martin says. This, of course, translates to some heavy reading.

Ning Pan, an international student from Shanghai, China, in Martin's foreign correspondence class, isn't complaining. "He is an extensive reader and encourages his students to be so as well," she says. "His book list is excellent - very informative."

A former English teacher who, in his own words, "frankly wasn't very good at all," Martin is certain that his life experiences and the sheer longevity of his career have added to what he is now able to contribute in the classroom. "People in the business know if they have the knack for teaching," he says. "You have to want to share what you know. Martin whole-heartedly encourages those who have this "knack" to take advantage of opportunities like the Scripps Howard Visiting Professional Chair.

Through his position, Martin has allowed some of his colleagues to get a taste of the classroom experience as well. "Mr. Martin knows quite a lot of people in the field and this, in turn, helps students," says Pan. "We had many guest speakers who were friends of Mr. Martin's and they were able to share their rich experiences with our class."

Martin believes that the chair presents students with a unique and much needed opportunity to learn from those who "have been there and done that" and who can provide much insight into the reality of their field of interest.

Ciare Thorn is a development communication assistant for the Division of University Advancement


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