One lucky ride as a Newsday reporter

Today is my last news article for Newsday, a print-TV investigation about the high cost of police misconduct. It's on the front page, ironically just like my first in 1984. This month, I began my 40th year by joining Newsday's editorial board, and next year, I look forward to a new Paramount TV show based on my last book, a brand new nonfiction book coming out in the spring and also a new novel next summer. But today it is fun to look back at my time as a reporter at Newsday, where I did more investigations of all sorts and sizes than anyone in the paper's history, and realize how fortunate I've been. Back in 1984, Bob Greene recruited me from the Chicago Sun-Times and I wound up the last member of Bob's famous investigations "Greene Team" before he retired in 1992. Along the way, I worked on many other investigations for New York Newsday, and the Long Island, business, national, Health and science desks. Generally, I preferred to do multi-part investigations by myself, but I was part of Newsday's investigative teams four separate times in my career. Newsday sent me to such places as Rome (abducted children), Berlin (return of WWII German Jews, thanks to a Columbia fellowship Tony Marro allowed me to do on Newsday's time), London, El Salvador (immigration), and the Marshall Islands in the Pacific (H-bomb victims mishandled by Brookhaven national lab). Working with Rich Galant, I did several multi-part series, including the 1986 Suffolk homicide series with Rex Smith that indicted a top crime lab official and won the national Sigma Delta Chi Award, and a 2001 five-day series about the NY immigrants getting killed on the job that won the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists top prize. (Rich even signed the expense forms when I picked up the $20,000 check in London). I enjoyed doing a wide range of in-depth stories like the five cover stories for the Newsday Sunday magazine (including one that became my first book), an investigation for the LI History project of how Montauk Native-American lands were stolen, and as a lead reporter on the 20-member "garbage team" that resulted in a TWO-week Newsday series and eventually a Newsday book "The Rush to Burn"! That project began after I broke the story of the wandering Long Island garbage barge out in the Atlantic that wound up in a Johnny Carson monologue a few days later. Newsday ran excerpts from my seven books as well, including the exclusive about the Jesuit priest who counseled Jackie after JFK's assassination (which wound up with my appearance on the Today show and the CBS Evening News). Under the health and desk overseen by Les Payne, I went to Michigan to examine all of the autopsy records involving Dr. Kevorkian for a front-page investigation. And since 2010, I've done 10 separate TV-print projects for Pat Dolan at News 12 and Newsday. Pat sent me to Buffalo to interview a convicted body snatcher as part of our investigation with the ICIJ that also won a national Sigma Delta Chi Award, and to Colorado for a 4/20 pot convention, part of our probe of the emerging marijuana industry (I didn't inhale). There's some investigations I'm proud of that didn't win major awards or indict someone. Like the 1997 five-day series about the underwater land speculation and building along Long Island's fragile shoreline. Not many people paid attention. But when Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012, destroying millions in coastal properties, we looked like geniuses, lol! I feel the same way about our series about coma and head injuries that help push President Clinton to sign legislation, and the five-day series about immigrant worker deaths where I wound up testifying before the US Senate about our findings. For a kid who delivered Newsday starting in 1968 at age 12, I've been incredibly fortunate to have such fun as a reporter for the past 40 years, always trying to be at the cutting edge. One series was Newsday's first computer-assisted investigation, and another in 2009 became Newsday's first NY Emmy nominee. Most importantly, I've worked with wonderfully talented people like Brian Donovan, Kathy Kerr, Mark Harrington, Allan Sloan, Laurie Garrett, Jim Dwyer, John Williams (our Emmy winner on 2019's Innocent Man story) and many other members of Newsday's investigative team. Of course, that includes the super talented Sandra Peddie, who fittingly shares her byline credit with me on my last story for Newsday. For a variety of reasons, I was planning on retiring this month to devote myself full-time to my outside projects, but editorial page editor Rita Ciolli offered this new job opining for Newsday. So the ride continues, with more fun to come, lol!