STORY TELLER

Long­time area re­porter col­lects fa­vorite tales in book form

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Glenn Grif­fith ggrif­[email protected]­gian.com

TROY, N.Y. >> Af­ter 25 years in print jour­nal­ism re­porter Michael DeMasi has taken a step back, looked at his work, and pub­lished a col­lec­tion of his fa­vorite sto­ries.

DeMasi is a Troy na­tive who got the itch for re­port­ing while at­tend­ing Troy High School in the mid-1980s. Af­ter start­ing work pro­fes­sion­ally as a free­lancer, he worked his way up the ca­reer lad­der on daily news staffs in Glens Falls and Sch­enec­tady.

He remains true to the pro­fes­sion by work­ing as a busi­ness writer for the Al­bany Busi­ness Re­view.

His book, “What They Said: 25 Years of Telling Sto­ries” gives the pub­lic a chance to read 40 of his sto­ries with­out the in­ter­fer­ence of ad­ver­tise­ments, wire sto­ries, po­lit­i­cal car­toons or other re­porters’ work.

It’s also a time cap­sule for his twin, ele­men­tary school-age daugh­ters.

As an au­thor with a freshly printed book, DeMasi is mak­ing the rounds of read­ings and book sign­ings. On Sat­ur­day he gave a read­ing in­side the warm and comfy quar­ters of the Mar­ket Block Book­store at 290 River Street.

With its corner lo­ca­tion, large win­dows, hard­wood floors and cush­ioned seat­ing, the Book­store was the per­fect spot for a re­porter who re­mem­bers the days be­fore cut­backs, buy outs and lay­offs took the heart out of news staffs.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Troy High School in 1987 where he worked on the school news­pa­per, DeMasi headed off to Ithaca Col­lege as a Com­mu­ni­ca­tions ma­jor. He had de­signs on a ca­reer in broad­cast jour­nal­ism. As part of his class­work he spent time in front of the cam­era as well as be­hind it.

“What I re­mem­ber was I didn’t like it,” he said. “I found I didn’t like be­ing on cam­era and I missed writ­ing for a news­pa­per.”

Switch­ing back into print news, he joined the staff of the col­lege news­pa­per and found much more sat­is­fac­tion. His story on the col­lege pres­i­dent re­ceiv­ing a sub­stan­tial raise while the fac­ulty got much less was cov­ered by a Syra­cuse news­pa­per whose story made the AP.

“It was my big splash and a les­son for me on the power of the press,” he said.

Upon re­turn­ing home he be­gan free lanc­ing sto­ries to the Record and sev­eral oth­ers. Af­ter send­ing out nu­mer­ous re­sumes he was even­tu­ally of­fered a job as a re­porter with the Post Star where, af­ter pay­ing his dues, he was given the city hall beat, a ma­jor coup on any news­pa­per.

Af­ter sev­eral years there he was hired by the Daily Gazette in Sch­enec­tady where he once again started at the bot­tom cov­er­ing the smaller towns in the county. Again, af­ter pay­ing his dues, DeMasi was moved up to the city hall beat and later was the state cap­i­tal beat.

He made the move to the Al­bany Busi­ness Re­view af­ter get­ting mar­ried and buy­ing a home in Clifton Park.

“When you’re young and sin­gle and you live in an apart­ment you can go to work and not know when you’re go­ing to re­turn home,” he said. “It’s dif-

fer­ent when you’re mar­ried and you have a house. “You want to get home.” Asked about the con­trast be­tween writ­ing for the Busi­ness Re­view and a daily news­pa­per DeMasi said he didn’t be­lieve there was much dif­fer­ence.

“The move was a lit­tle in­tim­i­dat­ing be­cause I didn’t have a lot of busi­ness back­ground but I viewed it as just a dif­fer­ent beat. Af­ter all, I had cov­ered the city hall beat,” he said.

DeMasi viewed the new po­si­tion as a new beat.

“Get to know the know the peo­ple on your beat, un­der­stand their needs and in­ter­ests, try and im­merse your­self in their world, and not think you know more than them, be­cause you don’t,” he said. “I found I en­joy writ­ing about ev­ery­one from peo­ple who are en­trepreneurs and are try­ing to get some­thing off the ground, to es­tab­lished busi­ness peo­ple, all the way up to CEOs of a large suc­cess­ful com­pany.”

In the end, DeMasi said, re­port­ing is re­ally about peo­ple. To do the job prop­erly one has to be a peo­ple per­son.

“The process is vi­tal for sure, but years later the sto­ries that will be re­mem­bered are about peo­ple,” he said.

In his book DeMasi has taken that po­si­tion and pushed it to the max­i­mum reach­ing back through all 25 years of his pro­fes­sional jour­nal­ist’s life.

There is a story about a tough street-smart Ir­ish priest with a good heart who works at Great Mead­ows Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity. While an­other is cen­tered on Uri Kauf­man, an at­tor­ney who was fired three times and be­came the CEO and Pres­i­dent of the Har­mony Group, the com­pany that re­de­vel­oped the Har­mony Mills in Co­hoes.

At the read­ing on Sat­ur­day DeMasi read the story on Kauf­man and one about camp­ing out in the front yard with his two daugh­ters.

“I found my­self a quar­ter of a step be­hind my com­fort zone as I walked out of Dick’s Sport­ing Goods with an $80, fourper­son tent,” he read.

At­ten­dance for the read­ing was light, around 10 peo­ple, most of whom knew DeMasi in some way. There were lots of hugs and hand­shakes. One who at­tended was Ryan Led­dick, a friend who has known him just four months.

“He has a con­sis­tent, fact-based voice to his writ­ing,” Led­dick said. “There’s a lot of hu­mor to it, like in the camp­ing story.

The book, “What They Said,” can be pur­chased at sev­eral in­de­pen­dent book­stores in the Cap­i­tal Dis­trict, on Ama­zon, and from DeMasi him­self. The price is $20. His web­site is: www.michaelde­masi.com.

GLENN GRIF­FITH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Re­porter, and now au­thor Michael DeMasi reads from his book Sat­ur­day at the Mar­ket Block Book­store in Troy.

GLENN GRIF­FITH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Au­thor and re­porter Michael DeMasi, stand­ing right, at a read­ing of his book on Sat­ur­day at Mar­ket Block Book­store in Troy

GLENN GRIF­FITH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Au­thor and re­porter Michael DeMasi, stand­ing right, chats with a friend who came to Mar­ket Block Book­store Sat­ur­day for a read­ing from his book.

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