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Meet the Addy Indy’s newest reporter

MARIN HOWELL

MIDDLEBURY — Marin Howell knew from a young age she wanted to be a writer.

In her early years, growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Howell would sometimes accompany her mother to work, where she would “sit on the ground with pieces of paper and make books,” she recalled.

Soon enough, she was keeping a journal and writing stories and poetry.

“But I didn’t have much of a conception of a writing career beyond being an ‘author,’” she said. “And I didn’t know if I wanted to do that or if I could.”

One of the early turning points in Howell’s writing career came in high school, a few years after she and her family had moved to Addison, Vt., and she’d begun attending Vergennes Union High School.

In 10th grade, she entered U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’s annual State of the Union Essay Contest.

“I wrote about the socioeconomic divide in New York City,” she said. “It was my first sense of being a ‘messenger,’ in a way. I was writing about these factual things that were already there, rather than coming up with material from my own imagination.”

That fall, Howell started paying closer attention to journalism during the 2016 presidential election.

“I was consuming more and more news,” she said. “And I saw that not only could journalism become corrupted, but that it also had a lot of power to inform and inspire change.”

By then, Howell knew she wanted to be in journalism, so the experience had a profound effect on her.

“Being a consumer of news first really drove how I navigated the field later,” she said.

More immediately, however, there wasn’t a school newspaper for her to work on.

But “not having a direct opportunity to look into journalism in school turned out to be a good thing, in a way,” she said. “It gave me the push to pursue it in other ways.”

During her senior year at VUHS, Howell took a project workshop course in which she developed a proposal for a school newspaper and guided it far enough to get administrative approval and a faculty adviser.

That fall, she also took a community-based learning class that allowed her to intern with the Addison Independent.

Here, she worked with veteran reporter Andy Kirkaldy to craft school- and education-related stories.

After graduating from VUHS in 2019, Howell headed off to college in New York City, studying journalism at the Lincoln Center Campus of Fordham University.

“The great thing about college was that my professors were also journalists themselves,” she said.

Having New York as a journalistic laboratory wasn’t bad, either.

“There were so many amazing opportunities, and I felt a freedom to pursue cool stories,” she said. “Journalism seemed like a limitless career.”

When the pandemic hit, Howell moved back to Vermont and spent most of 2020 studying remotely.

That fall, while the 2020 presidential election was heating up, she got the chance to intern with the Independent again.

This time, Howell wasn’t just consuming the news. She was also producing it.

She told local stories about things local readers cared about: businesses thriving despite the pandemic, neighbors helping neighbors, cool people doing all sorts of cool stuff.

Upon resumption of in-person classes at Fordham, Howell returned to Manhattan, where she wrote for the Fordham Observer and interned for New York City Wired, a digital publication focused on tech industry news.

Among the many highlights of her college career, Howell cited a course called “Interviews and Profiles,” which she took this past fall.

The final class project called for interviewing and writing about someone “remarkable.”

Howell chose a musician she admires — Vermont-born folk-pop singer-songwriter Noah Kahan — scored a press pass from his publicist, and scheduled an interview during Kahan’s tour through New York.

“Here I was, 19 or 20 years old, thinking, ‘I get to do stuff like this, I’m allowed to be here, I belong here,’” Howell said. “It was the first time I was talking to someone I admired, but in a professional role rather than as a fan.”

She felt like a “real journalist,” she said.

And although Howell thinks of herself more as a general assignment reporter than as arts & culture reporter, the story she wrote about Kahan for the Fordham Observer is probably the story she’s most proud of — to date, of course.

Last month, Howell graduated from Fordham University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, which she earned in just three years.

“Marin has great instincts as a journalist,” said Julianne Welby, Advanced Lecturer in Communications and Media Studies at Fordham. “As one of her professors … I enjoyed seeing her dive into stories about dance, subway music, and environmental activism. She approached each one diligently with a lot of creativity and humanity.”

This week, Howell replaces Christopher Ross in the Addy Indy newsroom, where she’ll be covering the Bristol 5-Town area, the Mount Abe school district, agriculture, energy and the environment, Middlebury College, and other stories as they arise.

She’s looking forward to the variety, she said, and is excited to return to the Independent.

“I get to come to a place where I don’t have to compromise and where people care about the paper’s position in the community,” she said. “It’s a special place. The work here is impactful. And I get to be a part of that now.”

Howell imagines she’ll sometimes feel like an outsider at first, but she’s looking forward to getting to know the community and telling its most important stories.

And she hopes her enthusiasm and dedication to the community will be evident in her work:

“I hope to show it, not tell it.”

To welcome Howell to the local journalism scene or to pass along a news tip, email [email protected].

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