A glossy photo on the wall above my messy desk is worth a thousand words, at least to me: three middle-aged white guys in jackets and ties smiling at the camera. I’m in the middle.
On my right is Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and on my left is Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. The former a Democrat, the latter a Republican, both leaders facing tough fiscal challenges trying to get their counties on firm fiscal footing following the recession, which I’ve spent time and energy reporting for the Long Island Press.
That all three of us are clearly enjoying the moment—we were posing at the Press’ Power List Party held at The Carltun in Eisenhower Park last summer—means a lot to me because I’ve peppered both guys with hard questions, you know, speaking truth to power.
In my reporting I’ve always tried to be gracious and fair, and if there’s a bad pun to be made, I uttered it shamelessly just because I could. Those men are my witness—and they still haven’t issued an executive order expelling me from the Island.
Thanks to the Press, I’ve been able to dig deeper into the stories that matter to me at greater depths—and longer lengths (oh, the patience of our poor readers!)—than at any other venue I’ve had the honor to work for in my checkered career. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity, or what we’d call the platform in today’s digital world. And there’ve been other perks. Where else would I get 250 words to give Jets owner Woody Johnson a Pink Slip and vent my frustration in print as he’s made the team a joke on late-night TV?
My time here counts for only a fifth of the Press’ first decade in its present incarnation but I’ve been able to build on the editorial foundation laid down by those who’ve come and gone before me—and those veterans who remain. How we evolve through this rapidly changing, unforgiving marketplace is a daunting task, but I trust we will, in some way or another. There’s something intrinsically rewarding in knowing that the journalism we practice at the Press resonates with our audience and has earned the respect of our peers because it’s not easy to do well.
But sometimes it’s fun as hell.