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Path to Fellow: Marty Shelton, 1986

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We return with another Path to Fellow, a recurring feature here on STC’s Notebook to highlight the rich contributions of our honored members. For more information on this feature and on the honor of being named a Fellow or Associate Fellow, click here. If you’re a Fellow or Associate Fellow and haven’t been contacted to participate in this feature, please email Kevin Cuddihy.

S. Martin (Marty) Shelton

STC’s Board of Directors conferred Fellow status on me at the International Technical Communication Conference (ITCC) in 1986. I would suggest that awarding this honor to me was significantly unusual. I am not a technical writer or editor. In fact, I had almost nothing to do with technical communication as it is defined by STC. I was an information filmmaker and had been for the past thirty years. My primary focus was producing films dealing with scientific and technical subjects, especially those dealing with research and development.

At the urging of some of my associates, who were technical writers and members of STC, I joined our Society in 1972. At their coaxing, I hosted sessions at the annual conferences and wrote papers on filmic design, audience analysis, and the psychology of film to influence audiences. Writing for the conference’s Proceedings, and Technical Communication was painstakingly tedious and difficult. I was indeed fortunate to have my scribblings reviewed by top-notch editors who transformed my gobbledygook into coherent and publishable papers. Working with these editors over the years was the learning experience for what expertise I have developed in writing. With experience, I expanded my involvement in STC:

  • member of several committees: Recognition Advisory Committee, International Policy Committee and the Publications Review Committee, for examples
  • manager for the Graphic Stem at our 1978 ITCC
  • presented 22 papers at various ITCCs, and had them published in the Proceedings of these conferences
  • published four refereed papers dealing with motion media in Technical Communication
  • referee for manuscripts that dealt with filmic communications for Technical Communication
  • guest editor for the 4Q, 1993 special issue of Technical Communication titled “Graphic Communications”
  • contributing reviewer with 170 articles for the column “Recent and Relevant in Technical Communication”
  • president of the Sierra Panamint chapter
  • founding member and chairman (Grand Pooh-Bah) of the Audiovisual Competition Committee. For eleven years I managed this competition. In 1990, my last year as chairman, we had over 300 technical video entries.
  • leader in seventeen all-day workshops dealing with scripting the information motion-media show at our ITCCs and at various chapters, including Milwaukee, Vancouver, Toronto, and San Diego, for examples.

In 1989 the president conferred on me the honor of the President’s Award.

The more involved I became in STC activities, the more confident I became in my written-word communicating skills and overall professionalism—a rewarding learning experience I treasure dearly. Of singular import was meeting and making life-long pals. The benefit in joining and participating in a professional organization is exponentially proportional to the effort one contributes to that organization.

Perhaps my ultimate reward was earning the Best of Show award in STC’s 2004-2005 Southern California Spotlight Award Publication Competition for my book titled Communicating Ideas with Film, Video, and Multimedia.