By Dave Hughes
People that know Matt Zenitz say he has the right stuff. Zenitz is the new Ravens beat writer for the Carroll County Times, which covers a big swath of Baltimore's western suburbs. He landed the gig after Aaron Wilson left the Times for The Baltimore Sun in August.
Zenitz had been freelancing for the Carroll County paper for four years. He grew up in the Baltimore area and is a 2004 graduate of Pikesville High School.
Just out of high school, he linked up with Stan "The Fan" Charles, publisher of PressBox.
"Matt came out of nowhere when he started with us," Charles said of Zenitz, now 26. "He always comes very prepared, with the necessary stats and insight.
"He had an encyclopedic knowledge about many topics, including the college draft. That kind of product knowledge for someone so young and for someone who is not a classically trained sports journalist was very impressive."
Zenitz skipped four years of college and the traditional journalism degree, opting instead for broadcasting school. He said he thought he could learn more on the job, having already started writing for PressBox and co-hosting a weekend radio show on ESPN 1300.
"He's got a great work ethic," said Wilson, who worked at the Times for 11 years. "This is a good opportunity for Matt. Yes, he's young, but he's a hard worker."
Wilson said a traditional journalism degree isn't as essential as it used to be, because there are so many diverse elements of media, including Twitter, Facebook, podcasts, and blogs.
"You need to be able to communicate well, and Matt has the proper training for that," Wilson said.
Bob Blubaugh, sports editor of the Carroll County Times, said he gave Wilson's job to Zenitz because of his excellent record and hard work for the paper as a part-timer for four years.
"Matt already worked for us four years, [so] we knew him," Blubaugh said. "Matt really gets into sports. He's a tremendously hard worker, very enthusiastic, with high aspirations."
Most of Zenitz's pieces also run in the Annapolis Capital, because both are owned by Landmark Community Newspapers.
Zenitz has been writing for Patch.com and the Associated Press, in addition to the Carroll County Times, and been seen on Comcast SportsNet and on "Inside PressBox," PressBox's local-sports weekend show on Channel 2/WMAR.
On the radio side, Zenitz has been heard all over the local dial, hosting shows on ESPN 1300; doing fill-in hosting on the old Fox Sports 1370; and making guest appearances on WNST 1570 and 105.7 The Fan, where he's often heard with Scott Garceau, Jeremy Conn and Rob Long.
Zenitz also uses social media, including Facebook and Twitter.
Although Ravens football is his main meal ticket these days, Zenitz has covered more, including University of Maryland sports, the Orioles and area high schools.
"I try to be as well-rounded as possible," Zenitz said.
Longtime media columnist Jim Williams, who writes for the Washington Examiner, said he was aware of Zenitz's work.
"He's very knowledgeable, a very good beat reporter," Williams said. "He's very concise, knows his topics well, understands the team and where it's headed."
Both in print and on the radio, Zenitz provides information in a short, informative and accurate way, Williams said.
"That's clearly a throwback to old print-style journalism," Williams said. "He understands accuracy, and doesn't speculate. … That's refreshing. They provide information that's vital. It's a kind of Jack Webb style -- just the facts."
Despite keeping editorial distance from the team he's covering, Zenitz is good friends with Mark Clayton, a wide receiver who played for the Ravens from 2005-10.
"Matt is a human dictionary, a sports resource," Clayton said, "and it's not just football. He's a stat machine. That's impressive, and he's passionate about it."
When not in the gym or talking about football, Zenitz and Clayton are a team of their own.
"We hang out, go places, meet girls," Clayton said.
Zenitz may have aspirations for an even bigger gig as his career continues, but right now, he's enjoying his work with the Times.
"I am very happy where I am right now," he said.
Issue 177: September 2012