Longtime area reporter collects favorite tales in book form
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.
Reporter, and now author Michael DeMasi reads from his book Saturday at the Market Block Bookstore in Troy.
Author and reporter Michael DeMasi, standing right, at a reading of his book on Saturday at Market Block Bookstore in Troy
Author and reporter Michael DeMasi, standing right, chats with a friend who came to Market Block Bookstore Saturday for a reading from his book.