Good news for people who want government to be held accountable, bad news for politicians trying to pull a fast one:
Max Marin, a Philly area native with a background in investigative reporting and bylines in more than a dozen local outlets, is joining Billy Penn as political editor.
For the past year and a half, Marin has been associate editor and the lone staff writer for Philadelphia Weekly, helping coordinate the alt-weekly’s presence both in print and online. He has freelanced for publications such as the Philadelphia Inquirer, Next City, WHYY, PlanPhilly, Technical.ly, PhillyVoice, City & State PA and Hidden City, as well as for Billy Penn.
As a reporter and editor at AL DÍA News from 2015-2016, Marin covered Philly’s Latino community, with an emphasis on politics, immigration and development. He’s also proficient in Arabic, thanks to two years spent working in Amman, Jordan. That interest was piqued back in college: when Marin graduated Temple with cum laude honors in English, he was also awarded a certificate of specialization in the Middle Eastern language.
Though his experience includes writing everything from breaking news to lighthearted features, Marin recently began concentrating on longform investigations — and they’ve been making waves. His story with Ryan Briggs of City & State PA on City Hall’s sexual harassment reporting, for example, was cited by officials as a resource for the city’s recent policy overhaul. He has also done extensive reporting on police corruption, public policy and the opioid epidemic.
Not bad for a kid from Montco. Said freelance editor Sabrina Vouvoulias, who worked with Marin at AL DÍA, “I think he’s going to be a Philadelphia superstar.”
At Billy Penn, where he’ll officially start on Aug. 13, expect more of all of the above.
We caught up with Marin for a few questions that illuminate his views on Philadelphia, journalism and life.
If you could go back to one era in Philly history, which would it be?
The Gilded Age. For the Art Deco movie palaces, 19th century immigrant churches, the Furness buildings — all the architecture that the city will likely demolish and replace with condos over the next half-century.
Most interesting or frustrating thing you’ve learned about reporting on City Hall?
they all have stories
no one goes on the record
here’s a press release
— a City Hall haiku
Favorite street corner or intersection in Philly?
The Broad-Erie-Germantown convergence, for the hustle and bustle. Every intersection in Chinatown for the sensory overload. There’s a lovely grove of willow trees on some vacant lots near 2nd and Somerset in Fairhill which I hope the city converts into a park one day. Any corner where people sit around and build their own culture.
Your long lost childhood friend rings you up on a surprise visit to the city. You take them _____.
Most of my childhood friends are originally from the Philly area, so we just drink beers on someone’s stoop and take long walks through Nostalgiaville.
Out-of-town visitors are the best. A friend from Jordan came to town recently and he had already done the touristy stuff. So we went to some dive bars (citywide special introduction), ate a $4 shawarma at Liberty Choice (as good as any he’s had in the Middle East, he said), took the El to go dancing in the Gayborhood and then walked around downtown in the rain. A solid night.
Favorite books about the city?
Published nearly a century ago, Christopher Morley’s Travels in Philadelphia is still downright fun. Right now I’m reading a book called How It Works: Recovering Citizens in Post-Welfare Philadelphia, which I’d highly recommend for anyone interested in what happened to Kensington.
Your hope for the future of Philadelphia journalism?
The thinning of Philly’s media landscape over the last decade has created space for more collegiality and collaboration. There are great, multi-newsroom projects like Broke in Philly that I couldn’t have imagined happening even five years ago when I started reporting in Philly. The community is still growing despite its physical losses.
But long-term, we need more financial support. As the future of local journalism falls increasingly into the hands of millionaire and billionaire investors, my hope is their intentions stay pure and their business interests stay out of the newsroom.
The other part of our future belongs to our readers, and whether they choose to pay for the news or not. Suggestion: please do. We need your support more than ever.