Monday, November 14, 2022

Please welcome Ocean State Stories!

I closed my November 4, 2022, farewell to The Providence Journal promising word soon of “adventures that await.”

Ten days later, I am thrilled to announce I have become director of Ocean State Stories, a new media outlet serving Rhode Island residents that will be devoted to long-form journalism about issues of importance to the many diverse communities that together comprise our state.

Based at Salve Regina University’s Pell Center in Newport – a place I know well, having been a visiting fellow since 2012 -- Ocean State Stories will be free (and clickbait-free), answering only to the highest standards of my profession.

The icing on this cake?

That I will be working full-time with the great Pell Center staff, all of whom share the mission of bettering the common good. As the university declares, “Salve Regina welcomes people of all beliefs, seeking wisdom and promoting universal justice.”

And thus, to paraphrase Mark Twain, I am happy to confirm that reports of my retirement were an exaggeration!

Read more at this link and stay tuned for further details as we move toward our launch early in 2023. 

Friday, November 4, 2022

One chapter ends, another begins


After 41 years and nine days at The Providence Journal, I completed my final shift on Friday, November 4, 2022. I left voluntarily, after deep reflection.

Last day at my newsroom desk. Photo by Michael Delaney.

During my long tenure, I was privileged to work with (and mentor) some of America's finest journalists, a few still at The Projo and others deceased, retired, or moved on to other opportunities. I owe all of them a huge debt of gratitude. I count many as friends. 

Writing for the paper brought me to places and people I never could have known otherwise -- publicly prominent people such as sociologist and author Tricia Rose, Civil Rights leader and Martin Luther King. Jr. associate Bernard LaFayette Jr., researcher and emergency room physician Dr. Megan L. Ranney, and White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha, and the far more numerous and diverse folk from all walks of life who did not have such prominence but whose circumstances, challenges, and triumphs reflected the rainbow of humanity.

So thanks to all of these people in the thousands of stories I wrote starting in October 1981. Stories that included breaking news, profiles, health and medical pieces (including primary Journal coverage of the coronavirus pandemic from January 2020 to October 2022), and my journalistic passion since 1983: mental health and developmental and intellectual disabilities. 

My first story: Oct. 28, 1981

Over the decades, I won many awards and honors, including being a member of the Journal team that was a Pultizer Public Service finalist for our coverage of the devastating 2003 Station nightclub fire.

The Journal was the launchpad for my non-fiction book career and even helped further my fiction writing, with several stories that were published in the long-gone Sunday magazine.

And it was also the launchpad for my visiting fellowship at the Pell Center at Salve Regina University, my founding and directorship of the Story in the Public Square program, and my position as co-host and co-executive producer of the multiple national Telly Award-winning PBS/SiriusXM show "Story in the Public Square," and much more. 

And so, departing is bittersweet. 

Bitter remembering all that was so good and now is behind. 

Sweet contemplating the adventures that await. 

Stay tuned for details about them as they are announced, and they will be soon!

75 Fountain St., Providence R.I., on my last day.