By Matt Lewis
The sudden and unknown circumstances around the death of Armando Montaño, an intern with the Associated Press, makes it more difficult for those who cared about him to find some sort of closure. I did not know ‘Mando’ well, but I knew him enough to know that the world lost a great soul. I had the distinct pleasure of working on a story with this young man at The New York Times Student Institute.
Montaño’s parents decision to sign him up for journalism in high school would forever alter the trajectory of his life. As a young man, he aspired to be an actor.
For those who knew him better than I did, I am sorry for your loss. I too know the heart-ache of losing this wonderful young man.
Here is an excerpt that Time Magazine ran about his death:
There is no greater dishonor when reflecting on the death of a young journalist than by referring to them as “aspiring.” It happened on Monday when news broke that Armando ‘Mando’ Montaño, a 22-year-old recent graduate of Grinnell College and intern with the Associated Press in Mexico City, was found dead in an elevator shaft. Word of his death rocked social networks and prompted friends to write tributes to him that went viral in minutes.
It was the second time in six weeks for news like this: Marina Keegan, also 22, had just graduated from Yale when she was killed in a late-May car accident in Massachusetts. Within hours of her death, she, too, was heavily portrayed as an “aspiring” or “promising” writer. Yet, in both cases, they had more than proven themselves: Keegan, a longtime Yale Daily News columnist, had already landed a staff position with The New Yorker; and Montaño, who was an editor at Grinnell’s Scarlet & Black and had interned with The Chronicle of Higher Education, New York Times and Seattle Times, voluntarily threw himself into one of the world’s most dangerous reporting spots. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that since 2006, at least 45 journalists have either disappeared or been killed in Mexico.
What’s “aspiring” about that? At 22, they both had careers that many of their peers envied.
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