New York Daily News
Lisa Colangelo has been a staff writer at the New York Daily News since 1999. Most recently, she has been part of the team leading the Hometown Heroes series which recognizes inspirational educators in the city.
Tell us about Hometown Heroes.
My colleague Ben Chapman created Hometown Heroes three years ago. We hear about all the problems in education, and Ben wanted to shine a light on all of the good that happens in our schools. Hometown Heroes isn't just about teachers but principals and other educators who are making a difference. A panel of educators including Chancellor Carmen Fariņa will select winners who will be honored at a star-studded breakfast in October.
What makes a story stand out?
We look at all of the nominees, but seek those stories about people who go way beyond their job description. These are people who really are driven and passionate about what they do - but often aren't recognized for their work.
This has personal meaning to you?
Yes. My father worked for the city of New York for more than 40 years and my husband is a public servant as well. So I value the work of those who devote their lives to such service.
Why did you pursue a career in journalism?
As far back as I can remember-when I was about 8 years old-I discovered that I loved to read and write. I read newspapers, comics and lots of books, especially Harriet the Spy. I started keeping journals and notebooks.
What was your first journalism job?
I grew up in Jamaica and Glendale in Queens. After I graduated from Queens College with a dual major (political science/communications and English writing) I went to work for the Queens Tribune.
What stories interest you most?
I'm interested in compelling stories about people and stories that can help someone who may be in a difficult position. I am always interested in stories about people who don't get a lot of attention, which is why I love working on the Hometown Heroes stories. There are a lot of people doing great work who don't get the attention they deserve.
You've also become the go-to reporter for animal stories.
I love animals, and seem to have always written about them. Often journalists focus on the quirky story. But I like to look at those stories that could raise awareness about animal cruelty and focus on a small group or rescuers that are doing good work.
What's a common mistake people make when pitching a story?
Pitches need to be concise, but often they are not. People need to get to the point quickly, but they also need to explain why their story would resonate with the Daily News' audience. We get so many emails throughout the day that I can't get to them all immediately.
What's the best way to pitch you a story?
I'm not able to answer cold calls because often I'm already working on a story. Emails are the best way to reach me, and I don't mind follow up emails. I can be reached at email@example.com.
And if someone wants to make a Hometown Heroes nomination?
We are accepting nominations until July 24th and they can be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, faxed to (212) 643-7831 or mailed to P.O. Box 5047, Bowling Green, NY 10274.