There’s a new business reporter in town. Joe Martin, a recent graduate of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, is the new tech and health reporter for the Houston Business Journal. What are his thoughts on Houston so far? Read below to find out.
Startup Houston: What are some major differences you’ve noticed between health care and tech, your two beats at the Houston Business Journal, between Houston and Phoenix already, even though you’ve been here for two weeks?
Joe Martin: I think the big thing for me is the health care industry here is massive. Even a place like the Texas Medical Center, which a lot of Houstonians – they see it and its just a part of their daily lives – but for someone who’s not a native of Houston, that’s a very, very, just amazing concept, to see that much health care in one location. Being able to be a part of that, and being in a city that focuses so much on health care research and the searching for new cures of several different major diseases is different from what I’ve seen in Phoenix. As far as the technology field, I mean obviously it changes a little bit from section to section. So, when you’re in a city like Phoenix that is leading the industry in solar and wind power, that’s where a lot of the technology’s going to focus. When you’re in a city like Houston, that does a lot of oil and gas, that’s where a lot of the technology’s going to focus.
Most of the technology development that happens in a city is focused around the major industries. And so, that’s the big difference. Both cities are interesting in the sense that they do have a strong entrepreneurial spirit, in the way that they’re designed, and the communities that are around these new technology companies, so that’s fun to cover.
SH: Within health care and technology, is there anything in particular you like to cover?
JM: I just like to know what’s happening. I mean, I’m not biased or picky in the sense that I’m not going to cover something over something else. I just like to see, in the health care field, what is the next best thing, how are they improving the lives of the patients, how are they bettering the service that they’re offering customers or [visitors of a hospital]. It’s still healthcare, but it’s still a business. There’s a good or a service being offered to a customer, so it’s interesting to see how that dynamic is changing.
The other big topic that’s always a big issue is the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. To see how that affects every aspect of that industry is interesting. From the hospitals to the healthcare providers to the employees of a hospital to the patients who are there – it’s interesting to see how the Affordable Care Act affects people, because it affects everybody differently. And so there’s hundreds of stories to tell there.
SH: Has your beat always been business?
JM: So when I started in college, I originally wanted to be an ESPN anchor, but as I developed, I realized that I liked sports too much as a fan to want to have to cover it [and] make it a job. So, I kind of just did the general news, and then I was approached by a professor over at the Cronkite school about kind of looking into the business section of journalism because of how well it’s doing and how it’s growing as an industry. I did a couple of classes with him and got that opportunity; landed the internship at the Phoenix Business Journal.
I really kind of understood how important business news was to a community, and to readers, and things like that. So that’s how I got the interest in business coverage.
SH: What do you like about Houston so far?
JM: There are so many different neighborhoods here in Houston, I mean in the greater metropolitan Houston area. Phoenix as a community is nice, but in my opinion, Houston has way more culture. And it has all these different little neighborhoods and communities that are scattered around the city.
It’s kind of like a treasure map, trying to find all these different little neighborhoods and restaurants and places to go and visit. So that’s really, really cool to be able to see all that and explore.
I also went down to Galveston; it’s nice to be able to be on the beach. That’s something that I haven’t been able to do for a while. Being able to go back quickly to a beach is nice. Also, the rain is nice. Arizona doesn’t rain very often, so it’s nice to have a little rain fall every once in a while.
SH: Do you envision yourself staying in Houston for the long term, or do you hope to eventually use the experience you [will have] gained at the Houston Business Journal and go somewhere else?
JM: Oh, I mean I really haven’t thought that far.
To me, right now, my goal is really establishing myself here at the Houston Business Journal, developing my beats, being a trusted source for my readers, and really making sure that I can provide the information to the right people about the industries that they want to know about. That’s really what I’m focused on.
I’m not focused on my career 5, 10, 15 years down the road. I just really want to make sure that I’m doing the job that I’m supposed to be doing right now.