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Walking a tightrope

Top Ten BSU grad, WSJ intern proves one can be a faithful Catholic and a committed journalist

The following story appeared in the June 23 Idaho Catholic Register.

Andrea Teres-Martinez was a Top Ten graduate from Boise State University and is interning this summer at the Wall Street Journal.

(Courtesy photo/Andrea Teres-Martinez)


By Gene Fadness

Editor


Andrea Teres-Martinez walked what she calls a “tightrope,” during much of her college experience. She did not tell her fellow journalists on the staff of the Boise State newspaper, The Arbiter, that she is Catholic. And she did not tell her fellow Bible study students at the St. Paul Catholic Student Center that she is a journalist.


In her mind, the two worlds didn’t mix. And she didn’t want to deal with the inherent biases that each group has for the other. In fact, when she did tell someone in her BSU faith group that she wrote for the The Arbiter, his response was blunt: “I don’t read that stuff, it’s biased.”


Over time, Teres-Martinez, who would eventually become editor of The Arbiter, knew that she could not keep the two worlds apart. She went about as public with her story as she could. When Boise State named her one of their “Top Ten” graduates, she used the “Boise State Listens” forum to tell the world that, yes, she is a faithful Catholic and, yes, she is a committed journalist; and that one can be both without compromising one’s principles. In fact, she told the audience, being a Catholic has made her a better journalist and being a journalist has made her a better Catholic. (Her remarks are recorded on YouTube and can be found by going to boisestate. edu/americanvalues/boise-state-listens.)


Teres-Martinez, at a youthful 21, has already demonstrated that she can live out her Catholic faith and be committed to her craft. This summer she is in New York City serving an internship for the Wall Street Journal, the largest-circulation newspaper in the United States.


While attending the National College Media convention in Washington D.C. last year, Teres-Martinez got an email from Scott McIntosh, her journalism professor at BSU and the opinion page editor at The Idaho Statesman. McIntosh wrote her about internships offered by the Dow Jones News Fund, the company that owns the Wall Street Journal. “I assumed this was meant to share with our whole newsroom at BSU, so I told Scott I would pass it along. He responded, ‘No, I sent this to you because I think you should apply.’ ”


She quickly put an application together. “I didn’t even know at the time that Dow Jones was with the Wall Street Journal.” Later, while visiting her grand-parents in her native Mexico, she “just happened” to check her spam folder where there was an email telling her she was a finalist for a copy editing internship. From her grandparents’ bedroom, she answered questions via Zoom from WSJ editors.


“It was a cool interview, but I told myself that no way was I going to get selected over someone from a school with a bigger journalism program or an Ivy League school.” Three hours later, while getting her nails done, Teres-Martinez got a call informing her of her selection. “Everyone in that salon was confused as to why I was shaking.”


Teres-Martinez was born in Guadalajara, the capital city of the state of Jalisco. When she was 4, she moved to the United States with her parents and sister. Her father, Marcos, is a software engineer for Hewlett-Packard and her mother, Lupita, is a bookkeeper at St. Mary’s Parish in Boise.


She attended schools in Meridian, graduating with an International Baccalaureate from Renaissance High School, already equipped with one year of college credits.


She started at BSU undeclared for a major. “I knew I wanted to do something with writing because of the writing club in high school, where I entered writing and poetry competitions.” During her freshman year, she took a journalism class, writing for The Arbiter.


After her first assignment – writing a story about a non-profit organization that encourages young girls in physical fitness – she was hooked. During that freshman year, she declared journalism as her major. Three-fourths of college students change their majors as they advance toward a degree. Teres-Martinez did not. She loved it because journalism proved to be the perfect confluence “of doing something that I loved, but also was a tool to improve the community and society in which I live.”


During her college years, her faith life got stronger. “That, to me, was surprising,” she said, noting that many college students abandon their faith. “But there is such a strong, faithful presence at the St. Paul’s Center on campus.” She attended Mass almost every day, and recently completed the Camino de Santiago (“Way of St. James”) trail with her fellow students.


She finished her studies at BSU, graduating with a degree in media, with an emphasis in journalism.


Last summer, she was a general assignment reporter for The Idaho Statesman. She wrote stories about labor shortages, housing insecurity and the opening of a center for Ukrainian refugees. Then, as she tells the BSU Listens audience, June 24 came, the day “I found myself in the middle of a battlefield.” The Supreme Court, in its Dobbs v. Jackson decision, overturned Roe v. Wade, sending abortion regulation back to the states.


Fortunately, she said, others were sent to cover the main story, although she was assigned to get reaction from organizations that had strong views on one side or the other.


But, on that fateful day, Teres-Martinez said she asked herself for the first time, “What if I can’t be both?” What if she couldn’t be a practicing Catholic and be a journalist, able to tell both sides of an issue that has extremely passionate viewpoints on both sides.


At that same journalism conference in Washington, D.C., where she heard about the Dow Jones internships, she attended a session called, “God and Journalism,” and “bared my soul to 26 complete strangers.”


“I told them that my job was a constant battle with my conscience; that I signed and published stories that I didn’t always agree with and that it was hard.” One of the attendees responded to her concern with, “As Christians, we are called to give voice to the voiceless.”


Her initial reaction to the comment was that it made her angry. It was not helpful, even trite. But, now she says, if she saw that attendee again, she would thank her. It led to her to a verse in the Bible, Proverbs 31: 8-10: “Speak out on behalf of the voiceless and for the rights of the vulnerable. Speak out in order to judge with righteousness and to defend the needy and the poor.”


“Never before did I think I would look at a Bible verse and say, ‘What a beautiful way to describe journalism!”


She has no illusions that, during the course of her career, she will find herself in the middle of that battlefield many times, constantly balancing that tightrope.


So she’s arming herself with the tools – the scriptures and the Eucharist – to help her in the battle. One of her first purchases was a compact Bible. (“I won’t have a lot of room for luggage.”) And, “The first thing I did when I found out where I would live is to see where the closest church is. No matter how busy I am, I want to make time for my faith.”


“I see Divine Providence in everything,” she says. “I used to say, ‘I believe everything happens for a reason.’ Now I say, ‘God gives everything that happens a reason.’ ”


“I don’t think it’s an accident that I’m going to New York. I don’t think it’s an accident that this is happening at this time in my life. I do see this as part of God’s plan. Even though New York City is so loud, I hope I will still be able to listen to God’s voice.” And, in the process, continue to give voice to others.


If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more like it, please consider buying a subscription to the Idaho Catholic Register. Your $20 yearly subscription also supports the work of the Diocese of Boise Communications Department, which includes not only the newspaper, but this website, social media posts and videos. You can subscribe here, or through your parish, or send a check to 1501 S. Federal Way, Boise, ID, 83705: or call 208-350-7554 to leave a credit card payment. Thank you, and God bless you.




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