kp will edit Local journalism requires local journalists. Each week for the next few months, we will be highlighting the Beacon staff members who serve our community. Here’s how you can support the work we do.
Meet Eric Marotta
Position: Last minute journalist and general assignment. Previously, I worked for over 20 years as editor of weekly suburban papers in Portage and Summit counties. For a while, I delivered newspapers as a road hauler. I did everything except sell advertisements and run the printing house.
Why I became a journalist
After a few periods of service in the US Army, I worked while studying chemistry in college, but I dreamed of starting my own journal and the kind of information I would publish there. After working at night in a rubber factory, I would come home and write letters to the editor of my hometown newspaper in Ravenna. About a year later a journalist position opened and I have been writing ever since.
What I like most about my job
I like to work with people. Sometimes it’s like handing out candy. Usually when people find out that I work for the newspaper, they light up with a big smile and are eager to tell me their stories. On the other hand, it can be heartbreaking when people are faced with tragedies – but after so many years of doing this I think my articles can help sometimes.
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A story I worked on that had a lasting impact on me
All the stories that involve death. I see my role in telling their stories as a big responsibility. Most recently, I wrote about a local woman who died of heat exhaustion while hiking in a remote part of the Grand Canyon. I was grateful to find out that a religious essay she had written had been published online the day before her death. On the other hand, I was inspired by the stories I wrote for our series on black entrepreneurs. In some cases, they led to personal reflection: why couldn’t I have done something like this?
What is the biggest challenge I face?
Still, the biggest challenge is to be objective. It’s not hard to accomplish: When interviewing people I don’t agree with, it takes a little more consideration to make sure my articles are fair. I think it would be great if all of our readers took a look at the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists. People need to understand the code we all work under and take our jobs very seriously.
What I like to do when I’m not working
I love to cook all kinds of food, including barbecue, and I read a lot about science. I have a garden, I make wooden things, and I jog for a few months every year. Before the pandemic, I was a member of the Northeast Ohio Orienteering Club, which organizes land navigation (compass courses) events in the area.
Favorite event or tradition of the Akron region
The Cleveland Orchestra’s Blossom Music Festival and Klein’s Seafood on Grant Street. While there are many wonderful restaurants around, I really love the sushi at Golden Dragon Restaurant on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls.
Why journalism is important
In my first week on the job, I went to the old farm that once served as the Streetsboro Police Station to work on the Weekly Crime Report. The acting chief of police told me, “You can’t see the police reports. It took a phone call from my editor to fix it. As an editor and journalist in the years that followed, I ended up challenging many other government officials about open meetings and debriefing.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution puts the press on par with religion, freedom of speech, the right to peaceful assembly, and the right to petition the government. Can you imagine going without any of these protections?
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