Armando Montano was not only a journalist. He was a storyteller.
“Mando defined journalism as an act of good faith in revealing, retelling or unraveling the basic understanding our world,” said Aaron Edwards, one of his closest friends who met Montano at a journalism institute for minority reporters. “He was very open about his love of journalism that worked toward a common good — exposing corruption, giving a voice to people without one, and working against the status quo.”
Montano, son of CC professor and Chair of the Anthropology Department Mario Montano and Diane Alters, Academic Communications Specialist in CC’s Communications Department and CC visiting journalism professor, was found dead early in the morning of June 30 in Mexico City, Mexico.
A story by the Associated Press reported, “Montano’s body was found in the elevator shaft of an apartment building near where he was living in the capital’s Condesa neighborhood.”
The cause of Montano’s death and the surrounding circumstances are still under investigation.
“The investigation is active and ongoing, and we have been monitoring it closely in consultation with law enforcement officials in Mexico City,” said Paul Colford, the director of AP Media Relations, in a recent email correspondence. “There is nothing further to add at this time.”
According to a report in the Denver Post, “He was there working as a summer news intern with The Associated Press, but Montano was not on assignment at the time of his death, AP executive editor Kathleen Carroll said.”
Whatever the cause, the outcome is devastating for both the local and the national journalism community.
A newly graduated student from Grinnell College in Iowa, Montano was pursuing his passion for journalism and Spanish with an internship at The Associated Press. He was then planning to attend The University of Barcelona to earn his master’s degree in journalism this fall.
After his death, popular news outlets flooded with tweets, Facebook posts, and pictures about the life of an extraordinary young man whose life was cut short.
Edwards posted a story he wrote about Montano on Facebook after the news came out, writing, “What makes his death so confusing is the fact that Mando as a human being embodied the very essence of life. He was the person we called, texted and cried to when no one else seemed to care. He would know exactly when to push you to be better – and he knew exactly when you had dealt with enough.”
Hundreds of families, friends, and journalists gathered in Shove Chapel at CC in July to celebrate Montano’s life. Students and friends from all facets of Montano’s life were represented, including classmates from Grinnell College who caravanned from Iowa — even through Nebraska, one student mentioned –to show how important Montano was to their community.
Family, Editors and reporters from many news sources, including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The LA Times, and The Associated Press mourned alongside Montano’s family and friends at the memorial.
Not only was Montano a special person with an infinite supply of energy and joy, but he had traversed many paths as a journalist, holding internship positions at The Seattle Times, The Colorado Independent, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Associated Press, as a Chips Quinn scholar, and as a member of The New York Times Student Journalism Institute Class of 2011.
Montano still had stories to share.
One lasting message from the memorial service was that journalists now must spread the many tales Montano was bursting to tell. Each story was important to him and the world in some way.
“…Mando saw journalism as a way to emphasize and revel in the quirks and faults of the world,” Edwards said. “Features, profiles and even the smallest blurbs about local ice cream shops were all ways in his eyes to offer a slice of life that people often see all the time but don’t necessarily take the time to examine and discuss. Journalists, to him, were the people who chased those stories in an effort to better inform the public and to keep us enlightened, entertained and engaged as a populace.”
Staff writer Ellie Cole attended The New York Times Student Journalism Institute with Armando Montano and considered him a friend. Cole is also close with CC professor Diane Alters, and was in attendance at the July memorial service in Shove Chapel held for Montano.