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Cahn: A reintroduction of sorts

Posted: June 4, 2015 9:09 a.m.
Updated: June 5, 2015 1:00 a.m.

One of my “rules” about journalism is to always write a story with the assumption there is at least one person who has never read about the subject before. If you’re writing about an ongoing debate over, say, school taxes, assume there’s someone who has no idea what you’re talking about.

There are at least some of you reading this today who have read my columns -- which used to appear on Mondays -- for years. Perhaps some of you have even read them since I joined the Chronicle-Independent 15 years ago in July 2000. However, with today being a Friday, I’m also willing to bet there are a few people who have never read my columns.

To those faithful readers who have stuck with me during these years, please indulge me for a moment. To those of you who are seeing my face in the paper for the first time, allow me to introduce myself.

As you can see, my byline reads “Martin L. Cahn.” The L. stands for Lawrence. I added in my middle initial to my byline years ago after realizing there are actually some other Martin Cahns in the world. I think one of them’s a doctor.

More importantly to me, however, Lawrence is a long-standing middle name in our family. I am the fourth of five Cahns to have the middle name Lawrence. My grandfather’s grandfather was the first; it then skipped a generation to my grandfather, Ira Lawrence Cahn, publisher of The Massapequa Post on Long Island, N.Y; my father is David Lawrence Cahn; and my eldest son has Lawrence as one of two middle names.

Born in New York, I have lived in several places in the U.S. Being the son of a former U.S. Department of State employee, I have also lived overseas, notably Kabul, Afghanistan, and Guadalajara, Mexico. I also spent my high school years on Saipan, the principal island of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. I believe these experiences have provided me with a different perspective on some things which help me as a journalist.

I love science fiction and fantasy in all its forms -- books, television, movies -- including superhero-related material. But I also enjoy certain mysteries (John Grisham) and procedural TV shows (Castle, the CSI franchise).

I love jazz music, having been introduced to America’s musical art form during the 1980s while serving as the program director for my college radio station in Memphis. I worked in radio for a total of 15 years, ending in the mid-1990s, and have barely looked back.

I actually enjoy most music genres, ranging from Mozart to Prince, movie soundtracks to (some) techno-pop, and “New Age” to Daughtry.

When it comes to writing, I started out with fiction, writing -- what else? -- science fiction and fantasy stories. I wrote one complete fantasy manuscript (never sold it, though), chapters of some other novels and a number of short stories. Perhaps, one day, I’ll return to them.

I also worked in the corporate world, helping to craft reports and a few in-house publications.

Unfortunately, I never got the chance to work with my grandfather, Ira, the publisher of the weekly newspaper on Long Island. Coming to the C-I offered me to do so, in a way, long after his passing.

Ira instilled in me a passion for reporting what people need to know and standing up for them when they couldn’t themselves.

Two of my passions are the freedom of information (FOI) and open government. Many people believe FOI and open government laws are written to help the press. They are actually written to help all of us. You have the same rights I do to get public documents, insist certain business be done in open session and to know exactly what your elected and appointed officials are doing.

So, I’m a 50-year-old guy who edits this newspaper, writes stories about healthcare and education and loves Superman and smooth jazz.

And I write this weekly column, now on Fridays. I hope to make you smile or think or question or, sometimes, just help you get ready for the weekend.



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