Profile: EMU senior Andrew Lenzo’s career path takes him to editor-in-chief of the Eastern Echo

When Andrew Lenzo headed down I-94 toward Ypsilanti from his hometown of Jenison he didn’t really know where he was headed. Sure, he knew his destination was Eastern Michigan University but his career path wasn’t as clear – and while Google Maps could get him to Pittman Hall he would have to figure out the rest on his own.

Lenzo did have his cello in the backseat – he was going to EMU on a music scholarship. But something else began to “echo” in his head and once he headed in that direction, his career path became a one-way street to journalism.

“I changed my major from music to political science and communication, and got more involved in the journalism program,” said Lenzo, who graduated from Jenison High School in 2016. “Satirical work, like the Colbert Report and the Daily Show, got my interest in following politics and world events. As I learned about more opportunities to cover these with the Echo, I discovered that journalism was my perfect career path.”

Lenzo will begin his senior year at EMU as the editor-in-chief of the highly respected and long-standing Eastern Echo. “I wrote as an opinions columnist for two years before eventually taking up opinions editor,” he said. “I took over as managing and sports editor in December 2018 and as editor-in-chief in April.”

Lenzo, 21, is very excited about not only being the boss but also forming a strong team and helping the Echo continue to change and evolve in a media world that looks much different today than it did yesterday – and will look much different tomorrow.

“We started making big changes to our news organization when our former Editor-in-Chief Malaya Elgarico was hired last semester,” says Lenzo, who writes mostly on higher education, local politics and breaking news. “It was a lot of fun helping them recruit an editorial board and staff, and numerous changes were made to make our organization better.

“I’m hoping to continue what we started last semester. I’d like to focus more on our digital media presence and continuing to provide great online content. We hired more staff to help us build our social media and are partnering with different organizations to give our readers a variety of options to get our stories.”

The Echo is unique in the sense of its culture and purpose on the EMU campus. The publication is independent from the university and is completely student run. It was founded in 1881, originally known as the “Normal News” for the Normal College, that would later be renamed Eastern Michigan University.

“Our paper has been around for so long we’ve built a large network of alumni,” Lenzo says. “We did a large investigation on the Best Hall incident that was very well covered by Malaya Elgarico and Arica Frisbey.”

In February, a student staff member discovered a black baby doll hanging from a noose in his shower in Best Hall. EMU students gathered at Best Hall (photo, right) the following day for a rally put together by the Michigan Student Power Network. SEE STORY

Lenzo said the Echo did an outstanding job covering that disturbing story.

“I’m also very proud of the piece I did on the Ann Arbor Welding Fire,” he said. “I really enjoyed the sense of urgency and knowing the community needed the full context of that story as soon as possible. And we plan to cover other events at EMU just as thorough.”

While Lenzo had options coming out of high school, he is glad he found his way to Ypsilanti. His decision to attend EMU has set the table for the rest of his life.

“My time here has been great,” he says. “I got involved in campus organizations early, one of the best decisions I made, which got me connected with the community. It feels like Eastern students largely look over the community but I feel the community plays such a large role in shaping the culture at Eastern.”

His advice for incoming freshman would be to get involved and take advantage of everything EMU has to offer.

“The amount of ways you can get involved in the university and student life are exponential here at EMU,” he says. “I started at the newspaper, but I’ve also been involved in student government, the Rotaract Club and several other organizations. If you have an interest, there will be something for you to get involved in.”

Lenzo is adding another item to his already busy schedule this year – helping cover Ann Arbor City Council for WeLoveAnnArbor.

“I really enjoy covering local government because it is often overlooked,” he says. “It provides the unique opportunity to provide more visual coverage, whether that’s a live blog on Twitter or an interactive data set, to issues that can sometimes be difficult to understand. What city council does affects members of the community directly, so it’s crucial that we, as journalists, give the community that outlet of coverage.”