June 7, 2017
Members of the media and PR pros can be friends. Yes, really.
That sentiment is the basis behind the “Media Moment,” a Q&A that gives our blog readers a better insight into some of our favorite journalists, reporters and media personalities. We ask some questions and our media pals weigh in.
Now, enough about us! Let’s welcome Dan Pietrafesa, reporter/writer for Catholic New York and an all-around pleasure to work with.
Dan, can you tell us more about Catholic New York?
Catholic New York became the first official newspaper for the Archdiocese of New York when Terence Cardinal Cooke decided to start an archdiocesan newspaper in 1981. Our office is located in the archdiocese’s New York Catholic Center in Midtown Manhattan. Catholic New York, a biweekly publication, is the largest Catholic Newspaper in America with a paid circulation of about 130,000 and has won the Catholic Press Association’s First-Place Award for General Excellence for four consecutive years.
How long have you been reporting for Catholic New York?
I started at Catholic New York in February 2016. Working for Catholic New York and the archdiocese has been a great experience and I look forward to what’s ahead.
Did you always intend to be a journalist? Tell us about your career path to date.
I actually was voted the top business student in my senior class of over 500 students by my teachers at Arlington High School and was an accounting major for almost three years at Marist College with a minor in communications. I was the sports editor of the Arlingtonian my senior year but believed I would not have gotten into a four-year college if I planned to major in communications or English.
At Marist, I was fortunate to have some excellent professors, especially my journalism professor David McCraw, who actually is now the attorney for the New York Times. Ian O’Connor, the sports editor of the school paper my freshman year and now of ESPN, taught me the basics so I could write for the school paper as a freshman and I learned more from reading his work as he uncovered the NCAA violations committed by the men’s basketball program that year.
In my sophomore year at Marist, I started working part-time at the Poughkeepsie Journal, left briefly to take an internship and focus on my academics, and returned to the Poughkeepsie Journal in 1990, remaining there until February 2015.
What are some of your favorite stories to cover?
I enjoy them all. I enjoy meeting people and hearing their stories. I approach each story the same unless it requires me to do something different. You never know where a story may lead. One summer, I was assigned to cover local auto racing for the Poughkeepsie Journal, not one of my favorite sports compared to baseball, football or hockey. But I found a niche and I was being recommended a few years later to write freelance stories for race weekend programs at racetracks in North America and magazines across the country.
Name one fun fact that the average reader would not know about you.
Going back through my family history, I’m related to St. Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori, C.Ss.R., founder of the Redemptorist Congregation. I heard stories as a young kid from my great-grandmother, who is a de’ Liguori from Naples. My wife and I actually took our Pre-Cana class at Mount St. Alphonsus in Ulster County where we saw relics of St. Alphonsus.
What is the most memorable interview you’ve done so far?
I’m a huge sports fan and hearing Vin Scully’s legendary broadcasting voice call my name on the other end of the phone in 2016 was amazing. Vin was raised in Manhattan, was a big fan of the New York Giants baseball team, attended Fordham Prep and Fordham University, and was a baseball player in the city. At the end of the interview, I asked him if there was something he wanted to say to the people of New York and he shared some great stories of his days in New York, growing up in the city and calling Brooklyn Dodger games.
Tell us – we promise not to hold it against you – what’s your PR pet peeve?
I do not have one. Between my time at the Poughkeepsie Journal and Catholic New York, I was starting a career in public relations and marketing, and really developed a deeper appreciation for what PR people do.
What do you love about living in the Hudson Valley?
The Hudson Valley has so much to offer visitors and residents such as the Walkway Over The Hudson, the FDR and Vanderbilt mansions, and beautiful college campuses like Marist, Vassar and the Culinary Institute of America. It’s also an easy commute from the mid-Hudson Valley to New York City and Albany.
Name one “hidden Hudson Valley gem” that all locals and visitors ought to check out.
Kingston. It was the first capital of New York State and there is too much history to write in a few sentences. I recommend doing some reading on the history of the city and then visit the old government buildings and churches in the city, some dating back to the 17th century.
If someone wants to follow Catholic New York and/or you, how can they connect socially?
You can check out Catholic New York’s website at www.cny.org, visit my archdiocese Catholic Sports Scene blog at https://catholicsportsscene.wordpress.com and follow us on Twitter @Catholic_NY, @DanPietrafesa1