Alumnus to analyze the role of the press in Trump era at Writers@Work residency

Roger Coda
Scott Martelle

Scott Martelle (photo by Margaret Mercier-Martelle)

The role of the free press in the Trump era will be explored and perhaps even scrutinized by Los Angeles Times journalist Scott Martelle, a 1984 Fredonia graduate, during a Writers@Work residency on Sunday through Tuesday, March 24 to 26.

In the context of residency’s upfront theme, “Skipping through Chaos: Journalism in the Trump Era,” Mr. Martelle will highlight the function and importance of an aggressive press, especially during the age of Trump, as well as discuss the art of writing books about history through a journalistic prism for a general audience.

Martelle is an editorial writer for the L.A. Times, one of the most widely circulated newspapers in the country, where he writes about capital punishment, climate change, immigration, gun policy and labor issues. Prior to writing opinion pieces, Martelle served more than three decades in newsrooms where he handled assignments that ranged from local features to three presidential campaigns to post-war Kosovo.

Also an accomplished author, Martelle has written six history books, including “William Walker’s War: How One Man’s Private Army Tried to Conquer Mexico, Nicaragua and Honduras,” published by Chicago Review Press in 2018.

On Sunday, March 24, at 4 p.m. in Williams Center Room S204, Martelle will engage in an open dialogue, “An Enemy of the People,” about the role and importance of an assertive press as a truth-check on President Donald Trump. Martelle, who will be joined by Journalism Associate Professor Elmer Ploetz, will respond to questions from the audience. Buffalo News columnist Sean Kirst, also a Fredonia graduate, will introduce Martelle.

On Monday, March 25, a student-writing workshop will be held in McEwen Hall Room 106 (Story Lab) from 3 to 4:20 p.m., where Martelle will discuss the craft of writing and different techniques to rely on in hard news stories, features (long- and short-form) and opinion pieces.

On Tuesday, March 26, from 8:30 to 9:20 a.m., in Fenton Hall Room 127, campus and community members can join Martelle for a light breakfast as he reads the day’s headlines and opines on them.

Martelle will also offer two open-office hours sessions, giving campus and community members the opportunity to speak with him in a smaller setting, on Monday, March 25, from noon to 1 p.m. in Thompson Hall Room E329, and on Tuesday, March 26, from 2 to 3 p.m., in Fenton Hall Room 127. Students will have a chance to speak with Martelle one-on-one, and are welcome to bring current projects for feedback.

All events are free and open to the public.

Martelle, who received a B.A. in Political Science from Fredonia, began working as a journalist in his teens for the Wellsville (N.Y.) Daily Reporter. After graduation, he became a journalist in Jamestown, Rochester and Detroit before moving to California in 1997 to write for the L.A. Times, a top-tier daily.

Martelle’s residency is sponsored by the Department of History as well as the Writers@Work series’ ongoing sponsors: Faculty Student Association, Fredonia Alumni Association, the Fredonia College Foundation, the Fredonia College Foundation’s Carnahan Jackson Fund for the Humanities, Fredonia Convocation and The Mary Louise White Fund, also established with the Fredonia College Foundation.

Campus partners include the departments of Biology, Business Administration, Communication, English, History, and Theatre and Dance, as well as Admissions, Alumni Affairs, Career Development Office and the Fredonia College Foundation.

For more information on this event, please visit Writers@Work, email Dr. Natalie Gerber or call the Department of English at 716-673-3125.

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