Staff profile: Meet reporter Matthew Rink of the Erie Times-News and GoErie.com

·5 min read

Get to know the local journalists behind the bylines in the Erie Times-News.

Meet Matthew Rink

I cover politics with a focus on watchdog, accountability and community engagement journalism for the Erie Times-News. I work on in-depth reporting projects that are often based on public data, including the U.S. Census. In addition to politics, I focus on stories about poverty and non-profits.

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I was born and raised in North East and graduated from North East High School in 1999. I received a bachelor's degree in English with a focus on communications and a minor in journalism from Gannon University in 2003. At Gannon, I also served as the editor-in-chief of the student-produced newspaper, The Gannon Knight.

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After interning at the Erie Times-News in the summer of 2003, I relocated to Massillon, Ohio, for my first job in the industry. I worked for more than eight years at The Independent in Massillon, before transferring to its sister paper, The Canton Repository, in 2013. In Canton, I covered city hall and local government. I was promoted to editorial page editor in 2015. I wrote daily editorials, edited local and syndicated columns and letters to the editor. And I also served as a member of the newspaper's editorial board at a critical juncture in the Hall of Fame City's history.

I returned to Erie County with my wife, who is also a North East native, and our three daughters in the summer of 2017. Our beautiful girls Sophia, Roslyn and Maryn are students in the North East School District.

Erie Times-News staff writer Matthew Rink.
Erie Times-News staff writer Matthew Rink.

Why I became a journalist

To give a voice to the underdog, the poor, the crime victim, and those who've suffered injustices and discrimination at the hands of the government, corporations too big to fail, or the racists, sexists and bigots who are a plague to society. To "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable," as the saying goes.

What I like best about my job

I've had the opportunity to meet interesting people of all walks of life, from presidential candidates, senators and celebrities to the working poor struggling to put food on the table and refugees who've escaped their war-torn countries and resettled in Erie. Talking with ordinary people who've entrusted me to tell their stories is not only a privilege but an honor. This career awards me every day by allowing me to learn new things, encounter different people and engage in the important conversations that will shape our community's future.

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A story I worked on that has had a lasting impact on me

There are too many to list here, but I'm especially proud of the work we did covering the local angle of the 2020 presidential election. And I'll never forget talking to grieving mothers and fathers, heartsick siblings and friends after they learned that their sons or daughters had lost their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan when I started my career in Ohio in 2004. I'm proud to have shared the stories of these brave men and women — many of whom were my age or younger at the time — who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

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What is the biggest challenge I face?

Competing with cable news pundits and propagandists and social media know-it-alls who've demonized the media as "the enemy of the people." While I have my own criticisms of the national media, I know there are too many people who paint with a broad brush and don't understand or value the work of a local newspaper. Having read local papers from all over the place, I think a lot of people take for granted or fail to realize just how truly fortunate we are in Erie to have such talented journalists working at the Erie Times-News. While some journalists strive to work for The Washington Post or The New York Times, I always wanted to return to Erie to work alongside the incredible reporters, editors and photographers at my hometown paper. Landing this gig in 2017 fulfilled that career goal for me. And I'm forever grateful.

What I like to do when I’m not working

Dinner dates with my wife. Collecting and listening to vinyl records. Going to concerts, especially Pearl Jam shows — nearly 20 in 25 years. Shooting hoops. Sunday dinners at Mom's with my sister Emily and our families. But mostly, anything with Leea and our girls. Even days stuck inside the house often result in some kind of silliness.

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Favorite event or Erie-area tradition

Slow drives with the windows rolled down along Route 5 in North East at the height of grape harvest season. Wings and beer with buddies at Park Tavern. Summer cookouts with Smith's dogs on the grill. Walking barefoot on the hot sands of Presque Isle for the first time after a long, cold winter. Waiting outside for hours with random strangers in a line that wraps around the corner of Graham's Record Store before the doors open for Record Store Day. Helping my girls find tiny shells and beach glass at Freeport Beach. Wine Fest. And anything Concord or Niagara.

Why journalism matters

If truth is currency, then journalism is a means of enriching the lives of the people it serves.

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Contact Matthew Rink at mrink@timesnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ETNrink.

This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Staff profile: Meet Matthew Rink of the Erie Times-News | GoErie.com

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