By: Joe Strupp
Ron Martz, who had wanted to give up his post as president of Military Reporters and Editors because he no longer covers the military full time, has agreed to stay on for another year.
Martz, a former 26-year staff writer at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who left the paper in 2007 and has been freelancing and teaching since, admits no one else wanted the job.
“Frankly, nobody stood up and said ‘I want to be president of this organization,'” Martz told E&P, referring to the group’s annual convention late last week at the National Press Club where new officers were to be chosen. “I believe in this organization and I believe there is a real need for it. I wanted to see it succeed and prosper.”
MRE members also elected a new vice-president, Don North, a Washington-area freelancer and veteran television journalist; as well as a combined secretary/treasurer, Otto Kreisher.
MRE, which launched in 2002 as a way for military correspondents to improve relations with the Pentagon, had expected a complete change in top leadership, beginning with Martz who became president unexpectedly earlier this year when former president James Crawley died of cancer.
Martz has served without a vice-president, while both Treasurer Rebecca Christie and Secretary Carl Prine announced plans to leave the organization weeks ago because they, too, are no longer covering the military.
In addition, two of the organization’s eight directors stepped down. Leif Skoogfors, a freelancer, is recovering from a car accident, while Pam Zubeck of The Gazette in Colorado Springs is no longer on the military beat, Martz said.
Still, Martz said the organization is moving forward in a positive way and he hopes to have a new president take over after a year or so: “My thought is to bring in some new blood and have them move up into the position.”
During the next year, Martz also wants MRE to provide more seminars, especially in regional locations; expand the Web site to include more information about military procedures and policy; and boost fundraising.
“We need a Military 101 for reporters who do not necessarily cover the military on a regular basis,” Martz said. “There are people covering some things who call us frequently with questions.”
Martz said about 80 people attended the conference in Washington, D.C., out of some 150 MRE members. He added that several new board members were named. They are: Kelly Kennedy of Military Times; Mike Francis of The Oregonian in Portland; Steve Komarow of Associated Press; and Tom Roeder of The Gazette in Colorado Springs.
“We have also picked up a couple of dozen new members,” Martz said.