Gallagher Martin-Chavez says his calling as a journalist is about showing appreciation for his home state.
“I love Kansas,” he said. “The smaller towns have stories that get overlooked.”
The Tabor College senior is joining the staff of the Marion County Record as a news and sports writer. The English major wrote for McPherson High School’s student paper, and joined the staff of the McPherson Sentinel in 2016 as a sports writer.
“The towns in Kansas, specifically in the McPherson and Hillsboro areas, have a lot of great sports teams,” he said. “They have great kids and coaches who deserve to have recognition. That’s what it’s all about, bringing recognition to the students.”
Martin-Chavez says sports writing is his specialty, but adapting to news coverage is a part of the job.
“There are a lot of similarities with sports and news, especially with how stories are structured,” he said. “News is more to the point, but I think it’s a simple transition.”
Three years as a staffer at a small paper have taught him how to manage his time and workload, Martin-Chavez said.
“I’ve learned to be more concise and efficient,” he said. “I’ve really learned how much I can get done in a period of time. At McPherson, we were covering seven schools in the county, and at the time it was just me.”
Martin-Chavez said he sees a need for small-town media coverage despite challenges faced by the industry.
“There’s still a demand for our product,” he said. “If we don’t cover these events, no one will. There are plenty of people in the community who want to come home, read the newspaper, and see what’s going on in the neighborhood.”
One of the places he evolved most since he started was photography, Martin-Chavez said.
“I look at the photos I’m taking now and it’s nice to see how far I’ve grown,” he said.
Martin-Chavez had no formal training with a camera, and instead had to learn on the fly at the Sentinel using a company camera.
“I really like outdoor sports,” he said. “You can see the outdoor elements, like if it’s a nice day or pouring rain. It’s important to a story.”
Martin-Chavez said his strong suit remains working with words.
“The two I’m best at are writing and editing,” he said. “Writing has always come naturally to me, so as I’ve gotten more experience, I’ve learned to improve that. Editing is something I recently discovered, but I feel like I have a talent for it.”
While editing his own work wasn’t ideal, it taught him to tighten his writing, Martin-Chavez said.
“That’s one of the most important things you can do in news or sports writing, is to be more efficient,” he said.