To paraphrase a line from the film Dr. Strangelove, I’m a print journalist who learned to stop worrying and love the World Wide Web. I came of age in the 1980s, working at a daily newspaper, the equivalent of a boot camp for journalists. I started at the Austin American-Statesman as the “Sixth Street Beat” music columnist, dance critic and general assignments arts and entertainment writer. I was 25 years-old, interviewing rock icons Frank Zappa and Joni Mitchell, choreographer Twyla Tharp and performance artist Laurie Anderson, to name only a handful. I got paid to do what I loved. And then I grew out of it. By the time I left the paper in 1990, I wrote long-form, magazine-style cover stories.
For the next 15 years, I freelanced, writing articles published in all major Texas newspapers and alternative weeklies, including a cover story for The Austin Chronicle titled “Interview with a Rapist.” I wrote for many now-defunct wonderful publications including McCall’s magazine (in business for over 100 years until its demise at the turn of the last century when Rosie O’Donnell bought it), Civilization (for the Library of Congress) and noofanglemedia.com‘s shopperati.com (although it is now GreenRightNow.com and is prospering). I covered the school shootings at Columbine and Jonesboro, Arkansas for Teen magazine, which still is in publication, I think.
I earned a B.J. (Bachelor of Journalism — specialization: magazine writing) in 1984 and a Master of Arts in American Studies (interdisciplinary American history and literature) in 1999, both from the University of Texas at Austin. In 1999 I was honored to become a member of the esteemed American Society of Journalists & Authors, which requires peer review and editor recommendations for membership, and is the oldest group for magazine writers in the country.
Throughout my tenure as a freelance writer, I taught part-time either at Austin Community College or St. Edward’s University. At ACC I taught journalism and developmental writing. At St. Ed’s I taught interdisciplinary American history, journalism and academic writing.
While in graduate school earning a second master’s degree, I have worked part-time as a tutor at the Learning Lab at the ACC Round Rock campus.
When I return to the classroom, I visualize incorporating student media literacies in my work with them in Developmental Writing and English Composition courses in a community college or state university environment. I also plan to continue working independently developing various digital ventures including austindogandcat.com. To see samples of my published print stories, visit the Writing Portfolio section of my website: www.debimartin.com
- Updating credentials for digital era by earning second masters degree: M.A. in Rhetoric and Composition and Digital Media Literacy from Texas State University. Graduation: December 2013
- Work part-time as “Tutor III” in Learning Lab at Austin Community College (Round Rock location). Tutor nontraditional students from diverse backgrounds using College Learning and Reading Association certified methodologies designed to increase student retention and development of higher order learning strategies. Primary areas: English Language Arts, Developmental Writing, English Comp I and II, Literature, Brainstorming ideas, Organization, Composition strategies, and ESL, Reading and Study Skills. Also tutor introductory level Psychology, History, Philosophy, and Government
- Most recently, worked as freelance writer for print and online outlets, and as an independent consultant/ghost-blogger to manage social media for Austin entrepreneurs too busy to do it themselves. Provided links of interest in a timely and topical manner, encouraged interaction with their clients
Masters of Arts degree in American Studies, an interdisciplinary American History and English program, May 1999, The University of Texas at Austin. Specialized in American journalism and historical coverage of social and mental health issues in women’s magazines, and the rise of the alternative press and the Sixties Counterculture.
Bachelor of Journalism, (Magazine sequence), May 1984, The University of Texas at Austin.
2009 – 2010. Adjunct Instructor, Journalism, Austin Community College.
Taught “Introduction to Mass Communications” to give students a foundation for understanding mass media and the messages it transmits, particularly in a time of convergence. Covered dynamics that affect the messages the media transmit, historical development of all major media, and emphasized critical “reading” of content disseminated by media.
9/2000 – 8/2006. Adjunct Instructor, St. Edward’s University.
Contract renewed for over five consecutive years, including summer sessions. Served as a McNair Scholar Mentor, supervised Honors Thesis and Independent Study in English/Journalism, and taught:
- “The American Experience,” (based on the PBS series of the same name), a core requirement on America’s multicultural history with a writing component
- “Magazine Journalism” for New College, St. Ed’s program for non-traditional, older-than-average students
- Proposed and taught Sociology/History/Journalism course on the Sixties Counterculture and the emergence of underground newspapers
- Initiated and taught “Cultural Foundations” course on The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
- Also briefly taught sections of “American Dilemmas,” an interdisciplinary course on writing about social issues and moral/ethical dilemmas, and other required interdepartmental freshmen survey courses “English Comp I” and “Intro to the Liberal Arts.”
9/92 – 5/98 and 8/99-5/2000. Adjunct Instructor, Austin Community College.
Contracted as a “MSTA” (Multiple Semester Term Appointment) for more than six years depending on my availability and department’s needs. Taught several sections of “Writing Skills II” designed for students inadequately prepared to enroll in English Composition I. Covered primary compositional modes, the writing process, grammar, spelling, punctuation, editing and proofreading, critical thinking, journaling, MLA and APA research paper documentation styles.
9/90-present: Independent Writer/Blogger/Content Provider/Social Media Manager.
- Wrote feature articles in a variety of formats, including dramatic, personal “as told to” narratives for women’s and teen publications – McCall’s magazine and Teen Magazine — and on general interest topics for other mass media including The Houston Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News, Civilization (formerly the magazine for the Library of Congress), American Way (in-flight for American Airlines), Austin Chronicle (an alternative weekly), The American News Service, a Knight-Ridder distributed national wire service that specialized in news stories on solutions to social problems, and The Advocate.
- For McCall’s from 1994 to 2001 covered: survivors of the Oklahoma City Bombing and Jonesboro, Arkansas school shooting, heroin addiction, child custody disputes, grieving the murder of a child, and the impact of inadequate treatment for the mentally ill on communities.
- Transitioned into 21st-century media as a website “content provider” and paid blogger for variety of outlets including noofanglemedia.com, and consultant/ghost-blogger for variety of clients.
- Maintained own blog since March of 2008; www.austindogandcat.com for “Austinites who love their pets like family.”
- 8/91-11/91: Associate Editor, Austin Texas Magazine.
Sharpened editorial focus and helped create departments for planned city magazine never published due to lack of funding and local economic downturn. Work as an editor with freelance writers lead to love of teaching.
2/91-8/91: Associate Editor, Texas Medicine Magazine, Associate Editor.
Wrote cover stories and edited law and medical economics departments, supervised work of freelance writers, at AMA-affiliate the Texas Medical Association.
6/87-9/90: Lifestyle Feature Writer, the Austin American-Statesman.
Conceived, researched and wrote magazine-style feature stories long and short on wide range of human-interest topics for the cover of the Sunday “Lifestyle” section. Specialized in profiles, social trends, psychological health issues, self-help, personal essays and the offbeat text equivalent of “wild art.”
10/82-6/87: Arts & Entertainment Feature Writer/Columnist, the Austin-American Statesman. Covered dance, pop music, and experimental art as a news beat. Wrote features, reviews, advances of upcoming show, celebrity profiles. Covered Madonna’s first tour! Interviewed elusive Joni Mitchell.
1980 – 1982: Various freelance writing positions.
Wrote feature articles for Breakthrough, the Austin Chronicle and The Daily Texan, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
RELATED WORK EXPERIENCE:
1981-1982: Crisis Hotline Counselor, University of Texas at Austin Telephone Counseling and Referral Service.
Counseled students dealing with variety of serious concerns, including thoughts of suicide but more commonly feelings of isolation and confusion about love and definition of the self. Made appropriate referrals to college and community resources for long-term assistance and support. Intensive training included weekly videotaped supervision, which helped me gain awareness of my “affect” on others, and improve ability to express empathy and gain trust with clients.
1980-1981: Youth Advocate, Family Connection, Inc./Houston Metropolitan Ministries. Houston, Texas.
Worked one year full-time in crisis intervention at halfway-house for runaways from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds. Caseload typically five youngsters all under age 17. Helped them explore options using “reality therapy” approach. Worked with family counselor to help youth return home. If that was not an option, worked with child welfare and other authorities to place youth in alternative independent living programs, enroll in GED and/or vocational studies. Regular shift work included cooking dinner for 15 teenagers, answering the hotline phone, facilitating group therapy, breaking up fights between residents, doling out generous helpings of “tough love,” enforcing “the rules” with tact and compassion.
Summer 1979: Orientation Advisor, University of Texas at Austin.
Helped pre-freshmen learn the ins and outs of registration, navigate big state university bureaucracy, and become “oriented” to college life.
1978-1980: Peer Advisor, College of Liberal Arts, University of Texas at Austin.
Helped Liberal Arts majors and “undetermined” majors make sure they were making timely progress towards their degrees by taking required courses, advised on adds/drops and withdrawal procedures, and basically helped them navigate big state university bureaucracy.
1977-1978: Youth Advocate, Sanddollar, Inc. Houston, Texas.
Youth Advocate. Same job description as above under “Family Connection.”
1976-1977: Dance Teacher, YMCA, Houston, Texas.
Taught dance at performing arts summer camp for economically disadvantaged African-American youth
American Society of Journalists and Authors, exclusive New York-based advocacy organization that offers networking opportunities and professional development. Entry requirements include peer review, editor references, and professional publishing track record. Active member since 1999; served on several committees, including mentoring, Editor-Writer Liaison, Publications (newsletter and web) and 2002 conference committee. Moderator at 2002 annual conference in New York City at Grand Central Hyatt. Panelist, “What Do Women Magazine Editors Want?” at 2001 conference, also at Grand Central Hyatt.
OTHER TALKS, WORKSHOPS, SERVICE:
- Judge, Writers’ League of Texas, Manuscript Contest, Narrative Nonfiction, 2010.
- Nonfiction reader/panelist, Nebraska Arts Council writing fellowship, 2009.
- Panelist, “Freelance Writing: Tales from the Front,” Writers’ League of Texas, 2008.
- Speaker, “Voter Education and Merchandising the Hip-Hop Way,” at Center for Black Business History, Entrepreneurship and Technology at UT Austin, 2005.
- Speaker, Barnes & Noble, Westlake. Writers’ League of Texas. “Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Feature Writing and Freelancing,” 2002.
- Master of Ceremonies at Writers-Reading Book Tent, Texas Book Festival, 2001.
- Panelist, “Women Writing Creative Nonfiction,” “The Art of the Interview and the Elusive Truth” and “How to Stick to the Truth: The Ethics of Creative Nonfiction.” Exploring the Creative In Nonfiction, Texas Writers’ League Conference, Austin, Texas, 2001.
- Speaker. “Race, Class and Gender Issues in the Newsroom,” Professor George Sylvie’s University of Texas Senior Journalism class on “Minorities and the Media.” 2000, 2001.
- Austin Writers’ League. Taught two sections of writing workshop: “Breaking Into Magazines Is Hard To Do,” 1999.
- Panelist, “Media Ethics” at The Pulitzer Series Seminar, sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists, Austin Pro Chapter, The University of Texas School of Journalism, 1998.
- Austin chapter of Society for Professional Journalists: Mentored feature writers from small town newspapers during workshops and coordinated fund-raiser for Freedom of Information Act during 3-day National Writers’ Workshop for professionals presented by several major Texas newspapers at Austin Hyatt Hotel.
- Various talks on the writing process and breaking into freelance journalism to a variety of groups including elementary students, high school journalism classes, Daily Texan staffers, Society of Professional Journalists (Student Chapter), UT Journalism Student Division classes.