The Washington Post | Jim Romenesko | Metro Weekly | Aaron Edwards | Marissa A. Evans
Armando Montano was found dead in an elevator shaft near his home in Mexico City Saturday. He was 22. Montano graduated in June from Grinnell College, where he was an editor and writer at the student paper Scarlet & Black, and began interning for AP in June. Montano also held internships at The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education. He had planned to attend the University of Barcelona this fall to pursue a master’s degree.
Montano “was not on assignment at the time of his death,” reads the AP’s report about his death. “The U.S. embassy is monitoring the course of the investigation.”
That piece includes tributes to Montano from Marjorie Miller and Kathleen Carroll as well as The Times’ Richard Berke, who said Montano “accomplished so much and touched so many in a short time, and his potential was truly limitless.”
Jim Romenesko and Metro Weekly have rounded up some of Montano’s work and tributes to him, including a touching one from Aaron Edwards, who was in the Chips Quinn Scholars Program at the same time as Montano.
“I’m going to get married in the Newseum, Aaron. I’m going to get married at the freakin’ Newseum.” he would tell me. Sure, to some it might sound like a joke. But to Mando, this was going to be a beautiful and ironic reality. He would pull some strings, maybe lobby for a few months in D.C., maybe cut some bribes with the executives of the Newseum. (He was kidding on that last one…or was he?)
Mando was sure that he would stand on the balcony of that building one day and say “I Do” to a man who loved him enough to understand and cherish a guy whose quirky soul led him to want to get married atop a national journalism museum.
In a 2007 “Voices” column for the Denver Post, Montano wrote:
Journalism is changing, newspaper circulation is falling, and people are even turning away from broadcast news. So why do I want to be a journalist in this day and age?
For the thrill of getting a hot story. So I can inform the public about wrongdoing. So I can be part of a system that represents and protects democracy.
Just because journalism is changing doesn’t mean that we have to discard its best principles. From where I stand — a high school teenager looking for my life’s direction — those principles are easy to find.
Marissa A. Evans wrote about her friendship with Montano, which took place entirely over social media. Montano, she writes, “is one of the best people I never met“:
The idea of being able to truly connect with a complete stranger through an online avenue is beautiful to say the least. It’s not picking up the telephone and it’s not an text message but it can have great meaning beyond the superficial items we put out there. Whether one chooses Twitter or Facebook, Gmail or Yahoo!, Storify or YouTube our worlds have become so much more interconnected with these tools in existence. One cannot successfully be using social media and honestly say they don’t have a “Twitter buddy” or “Facebook acquaintance” whom they’ve talked to multiple times but never met.
Montano’s mother, Diane Alters, teaches journalism at Colorado College, where his father, Mario Montano, teaches anthropology. Katy Culver wrote last week about an email Alters had sent out asking “fellow educators for suggestions on how to give her students breaking news reporting experience — and also keep them safe in the process” while covering the Colorado wildfires. On Twitter this past March, she replied to one of her son’s tweets about kids who’d gone missing in Mexico City (the Distrito Federal, or D.F.).
@ArmandoMontano1 Si, triste. But is this supposed to make certain people feel calm about a certain person’s plans for D.F.?
— Diane Alters (@DianeAlters) March 13, 2012