Remembering Doug Martin

In the 2003 Cursor alumni magazine, alumna Lou Ellen Gatlin recalled her days as a student under Douglas D. Martin, head of the UA journalism department from 1951 to 1956:

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"Observe! Question! Listen! Remember!"

Exhorting his students to strive for high levels of professionalism, Professor Martin leaned forward over the lectern on his tiptoes, peering over the top of his glasses with his protruding eyes at the novice journalists in his class for beginning reporters. He often delivered lines at the beginning of his lecture as prelude and emphasis to what he considered the most basic of rules for journalists.

He urged us to add to the rules of accuracy, brevity and simplicity. The school of experience had honed the professional standards he brought with him to share with his students and inspire them to strive for the best.

Just listening was an inspiration as he told how he had come up through the ranks from copy boy on small town papers in the Midwest to managing editor of the Detroit Free Press.

That newspaper won a Pulitzer under his leadership, a big accomplishment for an editor with only a high school education.

We listened intently, paying homage to a man who was a real-life Horatio Alger in our eyes, as he outlined his reporting and editorial rules.

Ill health had forced him into semi-retirement from the newspaper game and prompted his relocation to Arizona. The university gave him an honorary degree and made him head of a new department where he was to mold a generation of newspaper reporters.

He was small in stature and pudgy around the middle. He used a gentle but firm hand to guide his students.

His offices and classrooms were in the basement of the liberal arts building, where his students produced two campus newspapers each week. He ran them like a city newsroom, shouting orders and exhorting students to get all the news. We had beats to cover and were expected to unearth every gem of news from the departments in our charge.

Those who survived the sophomore year of reporting moved on to the copy desk. Finally, in the senior year, we were editors entrusted with making news assignments, doing page makeup and readying each edition for publication.

Along with the jobs, we developed camaraderie inherent in joint pursuits and a shared pride in producing a prize-winning newspaper. We also shared a reverent affection for our mentor and leader.

Professor Martin built that journalism department from a state of non-existence to one of note. In the 10 years before his death, the campus newspaper he helped develop achieved professional standards that resulted in recognition among colleges as well as the professional journalism community.