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Providence Phoenix 2013 Year in Review Questionnaires - UNEDITED

We know that you finished this week's Phoenix Year in Review cover story and said, "I need MORE of local reporters talking about the events, quotes, and changes that made 2013 memorable in Rhode Island." So, as promised, here are the unedited versions of the questionnaires we received. As we mentioned, please, feel free to sound off in the comments section, via Facebook, or Twitter with your own 2013-tastic memories and analysis.

So, pop that bottle of $8 champagne and read on, friends. We'll do a better job of everything in 2014, we swear.

NAME: Tony Gugliotta

NEWS ORGANIZATION: WJAR-TV NBC 10

PROFESSIONAL TITLE: Digital Journalist

WHAT SUBJECTS AND/OR GEOGRAPHICAL TERRITORY DO YOU COVER? General assignment news in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts

WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE QUOTE YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR? WHO SAID IT AND WHEN/WHY?

Back in July, I was tasked with the assignment of doing a story about why female celebrities are seemingly flocking to Rhode Island (i.e. Taylor Swift, Paula Abdul, Christina Aguilera, etc…) As part of the piece, I wanted to feature some home-grown talent and decided to check in with American Idol Finalist and South Kingstown native Erika Van Pelt. When I asked her what is so great about Rhode Island that is making celebrities choose to come here, she summed up everything RI had to offer by saying this:

EVP – “I went on the American Idol Tour, we hit 46 cities, went to a bunch of different countries, and at the end of it I really missed being home.”

WHAT WAS THE MOST MIND-BOGGLING FACT OR STATISTIC YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR?

Sometime during the overnight hours of October 30th into the 31st, a woman’s car drove off the road and crashed into a ditch in Cumberland. Neighbors heard it but when they peaked out their doors and windows they didn’t see anything because of the grade of the ditch. It is thought that she lay suffering or already deceased in the ditch for more than SIX hours before someone saw her vehicle and called rescue crews.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE A PARTICULARLY SURREAL, INFURIATING, INSPIRING, OR OTHERWISE MEMORABLE MOMENT FROM YOUR REPORTING THIS YEAR? THIS CAN BE A SINGLE MOMENT OR A PATTERN OF EVENTS PLAYING OUT OVER A PERIOD OF TIME.

I think the work I did covering all aspects of the Boston Marathon bombings can fit all of these elements. I have never experienced something so surreal as I did when I was standing just a block from the finish line about an hour after the blasts. A city usually filled with excitement and feelings of victory and accomplishment was completely changed into a quiet, eerie, ghost town.

Having been born and raised in a Boston suburb, witnessing this act of terror and everything that followed was and still is infuriating. A city I hold near and dear to my heart was attacked. At the same time, how the city picked itself back up and worked together to bring the evil-doers to justice was inspiring. Driving into Watertown during the manhunt and seeing how all the residents were obeying the wishes of law enforcement by staying inside and reporting anything they see was incredible. Being right in the middle of a truly spontaneous celebration on the streets of Boston and Watertown after Dzokhar Tsarnaev was captured is something I’ll never forget. And since that day, having spoken to bombing survivors like Heather Abbott of Newport about their struggles learning simple things like walking again, and witnessing their can-do attitudes while doing so, is incredibly inspiring.

WHAT WAS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF 2013 FOR THE CITY, REGION, OR BEAT THAT YOU COVER? HOW WILL YOU LOOK BACK ON THIS YEAR? FEEL FREE TO USE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES – PEOPLE, BUSINESSES, EVENTS, ETC. – IN YOUR ANSWER.

Looking back on this year, I think I will see it as a positive step forward for the region and the city of Providence along with surrounding communities. The year started so stressfully with the hurricane and blizzard, but everyone got through those and got back to everyday life soon thereafter. I think the economy has taken a turn for the better and continues to trend upward; and perhaps most importantly, I think 2013 will signify a year of tolerance in our region as same-sex marriage has been legalized and the public has seemingly welcomed it with overwhelming support. That is something great to see.

LASTLY (AND YOUR ANSWER HERE DOESN’T NECESSARILY HAVE TO RELATE TO RHODE ISLAND) WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE POP CULTURAL ARTIFACT OF 2013 AND WHY? THE ANSWER CAN BE A SONG, A BOOK, A TV SHOW, A VIRAL VIDEO, A FILM, ETC.

The thing that stands out to me pop culture-wise in 2013 is the always-growing crush of social media. Specifically though, I think the growth of video sharing apps like Vine is my favorite. Obviously, I enjoy visual media, and I really enjoy seeing the creativity of Vine users showcasing what they can do in a 6-second clip!

*****

NAME: Kim Kalunian

NEWS ORGANIZATION: WPRO-AM

PROFESSIONAL TITLE: Reporter, Digital Producer for 630WPRO.com

WHAT SUBJECTS AND/OR GEOGRAPHICAL TERRITORY DO YOU COVER? I'm a general assignment reporter who has covered Aaron Hernandez in Fall River and reviewed musicals at Theatre by the Sea in Matunuck.

WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE QUOTE YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR? WHO SAID IT AND WHEN/WHY?

Although a year’s worth of zingers is currently whirring through my head – House Speaker Gordon Fox telling Rep. Karen MacBeth to “sit down and eat your cake” or URI business professor Ed Mazze saying 38 Studios’ unfinished “Project Copernicus” should go into a “museum…of the stupidest things you can do” – I have to tip my hat to one of my favorite interviewees of the year. Henry Wood, 84, is the owner of the iconic “house on the rock” off the coasts of Jamestown and Newport. Wood is a child at heart, and loved recounting stories of mooing passing boats from the roof of the three-story mansion. But he made me blush when he blurted out this quote, talking about the house’s elongated vacancy starting in the 1940’s: “I think more virginity was lost out here than any other house in Jamestown.” I bet he’s right.

WHAT WAS THE MOST MIND-BOGGLING FACT OR STATISTIC YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR?

One thing that still sticks with me is the number of beach closures we had during the summer of 2013. Rhode Island’s beaches were closed 119 days this summer season, more than double the number of days beaches were closed in 2012. Though beach closures have decreased significantly since 2003, it’s a reminder that keeping our beautiful Bay clean and free of pollutants is something we can never put on the back burner.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE A PARTICULARLY SURREAL, INFURIATING, INSPIRING, OR OTHERWISE MEMORABLE MOMENT FROM YOUR REPORTING THIS YEAR? THIS CAN BE A SINGLE MOMENT OR A PATTERN OF EVENTS PLAYING OUT OVER A PERIOD OF TIME.

Standing on the steps of the State House while the Governor signed the same-sex marriage bill into law was an inspiring capstone to my coverage of the law. Watching advocates and opponents argue their stance in committee and then following the bills through both the House and Senate was an incredible opportunity for a young journalist. I was able to watch history being made and was humbled to share that experience with readers and listeners.

WHAT WAS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF 2013 FOR THE CITY, REGION, OR BEAT THAT YOU COVER? HOW WILL YOU LOOK BACK ON THIS YEAR? FEEL FREE TO USE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES – PEOPLE, BUSINESSES, EVENTS, ETC. – IN YOUR ANSWER.

For me, 2013 felt like a major transition year. Governor Lincoln Chafee announced he wouldn’t seek re-election; the aftermath of 38 Studios continued to cast a shadow over our state; unemployment remained high and the economy was still stunted. Many questions were raised: Who will be our next governor? What will happen to the Superman Building? Are our schools safe enough? How will HealthSource RI enrollment and the Affordable Care Act play out locally? As 2013 was a year of questions, perhaps 2014 will be a year of answers.

LASTLY (AND YOUR ANSWER HERE DOESN’T NECESSARILY HAVE TO RELATE TO RHODE ISLAND), WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE POP CULTURAL ARTIFACT OF 2013 AND WHY? THE ANSWER CAN BE A SONG, A BOOK, A TV SHOW, A VIRAL VIDEO, A FILM, ETC.

While Miley Cyrus and her twerking no doubt come to mind, I think I’ll go with a pop culture faux pas with local ties. I absolutely got a kick out of President Obama calling British Chancellor George Osborne “Jeffrey” several times during their visit. Of course, Jeffrey Osborne is the Rhode Island native and R&B singer of classics like “On the Wings of Love.” Obama later called Jeffrey Osborne his “favorite R&B singer,” to which Jeffrey said he was “flattered.”

*****

NAME: Kate Nagle

NEWS ORGANIZATION: GoLocalProv.com

PROFESSIONAL TITLE: News Editor

WHAT SUBJECTS AND/OR GEOGRAPHICAL TERRITORY DO YOU COVER? GoLocal reports on issues of importance statewide. Politics, current events, investigative reporting, opinion, community and high school rankings, sports, music, lifestyle, food -- whatever's going on locally that's critical, relevant and timely to our readers, we provide in a free, all-digital format.

WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE QUOTE YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR? WHO SAID IT AND WHEN/WHY?

The most memorable quote of the year was when Providence City Councilman Davian Sanchez said to me, "I was told if I didn't vote for the budget, the pool would be cemented," regarding the closure of the Davey Lopes Recreational Center pool that dominated much of the city's attention this summer. GoLocal broke the story when we went around to the neighborhood rec centers and talked with the kids and families affected, who were upset their opportunity to swim in their neighborhood pool was being taken away. The fact that the Councilman alluded to the possibility that politics was at play was a major allegation to make. It was one of this past summer's most hot button issues -- we'll see how it gets addressed in 2014.

WHAT WAS THE MOST MIND-BOGGLING FACT OR STATISTIC YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR?

GoLocal's investigation that uncovered that a Providence firefighter made over $215,000 in total compensation in 2013, with more than half that amount coming from overtime was a mind-boggling statistic for most -- and the 40 highest paid city employees in Providence collectively earned $6.3 million in pay and benefits over the same year. In addition,twenty three firefighters and four police officers earned almost as much, if not more in longevity, detail, and overtime than they did in their regular base pay. At least two three Mayoral candidates -- Lorne Adrain, Brett Smiley and Dan Harrop -- told GoLocal that they pledged a comprehensive personnel review of the city if elected.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE A PARTICULARLY SURREAL, INFURIATING, INSPIRING, OR OTHERWISE MEMORABLE MOMENT FROM YOUR REPORTING THIS YEAR? THIS CAN BE A SINGLE MOMENT OR A PATTERN OF EVENTS PLAYING OUT OVER A PERIOD OF TIME.

When Lincoln Chafee announced at the DMV that he would not be running for reelection in 2014, it was a surreal moment indeed. The press corps was there for what we thought would be a "major" announcement, although we had no idea what that would be, and I think for most, it was completely out of left-field and unexpected. Those kinds of truly surprising moments are game-changing -- in a nanosecond, you Tweet the news out, and it sets the wheels in motion in all sorts of ways.

WHAT WAS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF 2013 FOR THE CITY, REGION, OR BEAT THAT YOU COVER? HOW WILL YOU LOOK BACK ON THIS YEAR? FEEL FREE TO USE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES – PEOPLE, BUSINESSES, EVENTS, ETC. – IN YOUR ANSWER.

I think 2013 will be looked at as a year of transformation in media. The Boston Globe selling for 5% of what it sold for 20 years earlier. The Worcester paper sold and now for sale again - and there may be no buyers. The Providence Journal now for sale and it too will be sold at 2%-3% of what it sold for twenty years ago. This is truly the year that media changed to digital and it is never going back.

LASTLY (AND YOUR ANSWER HERE DOESN’T NECESSARILY HAVE TO RELATE TO RHODE ISLAND) WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE POP CULTURAL ARTIFACT OF 2013 AND WHY? THE ANSWER CAN BE A SONG, A BOOK, A TV SHOW, A VIRAL VIDEO, A FILM, ETC.

While she's hardly an artifact, Rhode Island pop culture got a shot in the arm with Taylor Swift buying her property in Watch Hill. Between Swift sightings, coverage in national magazines, and chatter in the state, having one of the world's biggest stars in our own backyard was a boost to RI -- she could have chosen anywhere, and decided RI was the best. And Rhode Island got its own rock star coverage in the way of Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi article "Looting the Pension Funds" on the Rhode Island pension system [and the architect, General Treasurer and 2014 gubernatorial candidate, Gina Raimondo - suddenly what was a local debate on pension reform became an issue of national attention by one of the biggest publications in cultural commentary.

*****

NAME: Frank Carini

NEWS ORGANIZATION: ecoRI News

PROFESSIONAL TITLE: Executive editor

WHAT SUBJECTS AND/OR GEOGRAPHICAL TERRITORY DO YOU COVER? Environmental and social justice issues in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE QUOTE YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR? WHO SAID IT AND WHEN/WHY?

“I realized I was driving an hour a day to live off the grid. It became complicated. I was using more gas than if I lived downtown and walked or biked to work. Isn’t the gas system a grid? Does bringing in propane count as off the grid?”

— Jamestown resident Ethan Timm in September taking about the year he spent in New Mexico living off the grid.

The quote makes you think and that’s actually what we need to be doing when it comes to better protecting the environment we need to survive. A one-size-fits-all approach it’s the answer. We need to make better informed individual decisions. We need to think about what we are doing and how it impacts the world around us.

WHAT WAS THE MOST MIND-BOGGLING FACT OR STATISTIC YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR?

Since 1995, $19 billion in tax money has subsidized junk-food ingredients, such as high-fructose corn syrup, compared to only $688 million in subsidies for growing apples.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE A PARTICULARLY SURREAL, INFURIATING, INSPIRING, OR OTHERWISE MEMORABLE MOMENT FROM YOUR REPORTING THIS YEAR? THIS CAN BE A SINGLE MOMENT OR A PATTERN OF EVENTS PLAYING OUT OVER A PERIOD OF TIME.

Rhode Island’s continued infatuation with ripping up farmland and/or open space and replacing it with impervious surfaces. Work on the two tiers of new parking to the east of the Statehouse, along Smith Street, in Providence will replace 2,000 square feet of grass with some 40 parking spaces. At URI, work crews dug up grass and trees in front of the Greenhouse building on the Kingston campus to make room for more parking off Flagg Road. This work followed construction last year at Flagg Road and Plains Road to remove a significant portion of agricultural land for a 330-vehicle parking lot.

WHAT WAS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF 2013 FOR THE CITY, REGION, OR BEAT THAT YOU COVER? HOW WILL YOU LOOK BACK ON THIS YEAR? FEEL FREE TO USE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES – PEOPLE, BUSINESSES, EVENTS, ETC. – IN YOUR ANSWER.

I would like to think southern New England is slowly incorporating environmental and social justice issues into discussions concerning economic growth, sustainability, development, etc. We can no longer afford not to address these vital issues.

LASTLY (AND YOUR ANSWER HERE DOESN’T NECESSARILY HAVE TO RELATE TO RHODE ISLAND), WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE POP CULTURAL ARTIFACT OF 2013 AND WHY? THE ANSWER CAN BE A SONG, A BOOK, A TV SHOW, A VIRAL VIDEO, A FILM, ETC.

TV show “The Following” — the wickedness is evil.

*****

NAME: Dee DeQuattro

NEWS ORGANIZATION: ABC6

PROFESSIONAL TITLE: Digital News journalist / Assignment Manager

WHAT SUBJECTS AND/OR GEOGRAPHICAL TERRITORY DO YOU COVER? Rhode Island Southeastern Mass., A little bit of everything, mostly politics on my blog.

WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE QUOTE YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR? WHO SAID IT AND WHEN/WHY?

When Governor Chafee wished accused murderer Jason Pleau good luck. When asked for comment on the day Jason Pleau was in Federal Court arguing why he should not face the death penalty, the governor said he wishes him good luck. What the governor meant was that he wishes the lawyers good luck in arguing against the death penalty but how it came across was not so tactful. Once again a PR nightmare for the Chafee team.

WHAT WAS THE MOST MIND-BOGGLING FACT OR STATISTIC YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR?

70% of African Americans do not know how to swim. This starling statistic came to light as Ray Rickman and his group, “Swim Empowerment Rhode Island” battled it out with Providence Mayor Angel Taveras over the closing of the Davey Lopes Pool in Providence. Rickman demanded the pool stay open so minority children in area could learn how to swim and Taveras argued the city could simply not afford the repairs.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE A PARTICULARLY SURREAL, INFURIATING, INSPIRING, OR OTHERWISE MEMORABLE MOMENT FROM YOUR REPORTING THIS YEAR? THIS CAN BE A SINGLE MOMENT OR A PATTERN OF EVENTS PLAYING OUT OVER A PERIOD OF TIME.

The Republican Chairman’s election. Calling this event surreal is an understatement. After being barreled over by the Democrats in the last election, the Republicans couldn’t help but make a spectacle of themselves with an intense chairman’s race. The fact that there were one too many delegate votes was bad enough but in typical fashion the Rhode Island GOP took to the blogosphere and talk radio to air their dirty laundry. Someone even sent out an email accusing members of the GOP of being racist.

And they wonder why they can’t win elections.

WHAT WAS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF 2013 FOR THE CITY, REGION, OR BEAT THAT YOU COVER? HOW WILL YOU LOOK BACK ON THIS YEAR? FEEL FREE TO USE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES – PEOPLE, BUSINESSES, EVENTS, ETC. – IN YOUR ANSWER.

I call 2013 the year of Chafee. Our unpredictable governor kept things interesting in 2013 with several announcements. First, if you didn’t know it already, he is a Democrat. Second, he is not going to run again but don’t forget the great work he did shortening the line at the DMV and finally, after battling the issue for two years: it is a Christmas tree after all.

Like him or hate him Governor Chafee made sure the political landscape kept shifting in 2013. The announcement that Chafee was a Democrat changed what would have once again been a four way governor’s race and he surprised many people when he announced that he didn’t want to be governor again.

Going forward we can look at Governor Chafee’s actions in 2013 as the foundation of the 2014 political season.

LASTLY (AND YOUR ANSWER HERE DOESN’T NECESSARILY HAVE TO RELATE TO RHODE ISLAND), WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE POP CULTURAL ARTIFACT OF 2013 AND WHY? THE ANSWER CAN BE A SONG, A BOOK, A TV SHOW, A VIRAL VIDEO, A FILM, ETC.

It’s not necessarily my favorite but it is the one thing I will not forget: Miley Cyrus’s tongue. WHY?! I can’t get the image of a little girl singing about over coming mountains in her life and now she is on stage naked licking everything including construction equipment (wrecking ball). You are not a dog, Miley. You have a beautiful voice, please stop licking everything. It is just creepy and now it is burned into everyone’s brain.

*****

NAME: Sarah Francis

NEWS ORGANIZATION: Rhode Island Monthly

PROFESSIONAL TITLE: Editor

WHAT SUBJECTS AND/OR GEOGRAPHICAL TERRITORY DO YOU COVER? Rhode Island, the good, the bad, and the quirky

WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE QUOTE YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR? WHO SAID IT AND WHEN/WHY?

There are so many, it's hard to come up with a favorite, although this quote by Warwick resident Carol Charron-Perry, about her five hens and a rooster, has a certain Zen appeal. "Chickens are beautiful, harmless, giving pets." (A Superior Court judge sided with a zoning board decision that she couldn't keep them, because they're labeled livestock, according to a municipal ordinance.)

WHAT WAS THE MOST MIND-BOGGLING FACT OR STATISTIC YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR?

I don't know if it's mind-boggling but one of the more interesting facts we ran was that this year's flyover by Air Force jets at the Bristol Fourth of July parade was canceled due to "sequestration." (And of course, the 2013 Quonset air show was also a victim of the sequestration fight.) It illustrated how far-reaching the effects of the D.C. budget battle and Congressional paralysis could extend.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE A PARTICULARLY SURREAL, INFURIATING, INSPIRING, OR OTHERWISE MEMORABLE MOMENT FROM YOUR REPORTING THIS YEAR? THIS CAN BE A SINGLE MOMENT OR A PATTERN OF EVENTS PLAYING OUT OVER A PERIOD OF TIME.

We ran a story on Sister Ann Keefe, who has led the social justice ministry at St. Michael the Archangel church in South Providence for more than thirty years. Even after battling serious illness, she's still a master schmoozer championing the cause of the Sophia Academy, Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence, Community Boating Center, Aids Care Ocean State, Providence Human Relations Commission, and many other organizations. A truly amazing woman.

WHAT WAS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF 2013 FOR THE CITY, REGION, OR BEAT THAT YOU COVER? HOW WILL YOU LOOK BACK ON THIS YEAR? FEEL FREE TO USE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES - PEOPLE, BUSINESSES, EVENTS, ETC. - IN YOUR ANSWER.

Can't really pinpoint one specific example for this year; those moments tend to become clearer after the dust has settled.

LASTLY (AND YOUR ANSWER HERE DOESN'T NECESSARILY HAVE TO RELATE TO RHODE ISLAND) WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE POP CULTURAL ARTIFACT OF 2013 AND WHY? THE ANSWER CAN BE A SONG, A BOOK, A TV SHOW, A VIRAL VIDEO, A FILM, ETC.

The book , "This Town," by Mark Leibovich; fun, snarky, gossipy read about the circus that is Washington D.C. politics.

*****

NAME:

 John Taraborelli

NEWS ORGANIZATION:

 Providence Monthly/East Side Monthly

PROFESSIONAL TITLE:

 Special Projects Manager

WHAT SUBJECTS AND/OR GEOGRAPHICAL TERRITORY DO YOU COVER? I cover lifestyle in and around Providence, including food, drink, music, art, culture, etc. I do cover more serious subjects like the economy, politics and education from time to time, but even then it’s coming more from the lifestyle/human interest angle, as opposed to news reporting. Unless there is a major, late breaking development on the local cocktail scene, I’m probably not reporting the news.








WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE QUOTE YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR? WHO SAID IT AND WHEN/WHY?

It’s hard to pinpoint the most memorable quote I reported this year – not so much because there are too many good ones to choose from, but rather because I simply don’t pay attention to what people are saying most of the time. I’m sorry… What was the question?



WHAT WAS THE MOST MIND-BOGGLING FACT OR STATISTIC YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR?



I did a piece on the Central Falls Chess Team, and their efforts to raise enough money to attend Supernationals this year. Alec Baldwin even gave them $2500 towards the effort. It was impressive and inspiring to find out that these kids made it to the US National Championships four out of the last five years, and placed in the top 10 each time. It was also impressive to see how the coaches are using this team as a way to build up the kids – for example, their tournament team’s math proficiency rating on NECAP testing was 100%, while the district average was 16%. At a time when there is still so much bad news coming out of Central Falls, it was great to report on something positive.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE A PARTICULARLY SURREAL, INFURIATING, INSPIRING, OR OTHERWISE MEMORABLE MOMENT FROM YOUR REPORTING THIS YEAR? THIS CAN BE A SINGLE MOMENT OR A PATTERN OF EVENTS PLAYING OUT OVER A PERIOD OF TIME.

I didn’t do any direct reporting on the controversy over cluck! opening on Broadway, but I did write a couple of pieces of commentary on it. Delving into that story was a fascinating experience, to say the least. After proprietor Drake Patten finally got the green light to open, I penned what I can now admit was a finger-pointing and needlessly spiteful take on the whole affair. I stand behind the substance of what I said, but I was definitely playing the sore winner. I didn’t think the folks I was criticizing would be interested enough in what I had to say to even pay attention, let alone respond – suffice to say, I was wrong.





WHAT WAS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF 2013 FOR THE CITY, REGION, OR BEAT THAT YOU COVER? HOW WILL YOU LOOK BACK ON THIS YEAR? FEEL FREE TO USE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES – PEOPLE, BUSINESSES, EVENTS, ETC. – IN YOUR ANSWER.



This is an interesting time to ask me this question, as I’ve only just put the finishing touches on our first big story of the new year: our annual 10 to Watch list. It’s our roundup of the rising stars in areas like business, community service, education, etc. Between the 2013 and 2014 editions, it’s kind of like those stories bookended the calendar year 2013 for me. Meeting, interviewing and telling the stories of 10 such impressive people always leaves me bullish on Providence’s prospects – even in spite of all the problems. Usually, more than half of the people on this list are not Rhode Island natives, so they’re innovative, over-achieving young professionals who are in Providence by choice. It’s always great to have the opportunity to see Providence through their eyes, because they tend to look on it more favorably than a lot of us natives. Their perspectives just reinforce something that I try to weave into the narrative of everything I write: that Providence is the shit and we all need to work together to build on that.

LASTLY (AND YOUR ANSWER HERE DOESN’T NECESSARILY HAVE TO RELATE TO RHODE ISLAND), WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE POP CULTURAL ARTIFACT OF 2013 AND WHY? THE ANSWER CAN BE A SONG, A BOOK, A TV SHOW, A VIRAL VIDEO, A FILM, ETC.

I guess this is stretching the definition of pop culture, but the cache of files that Edward Snowden has been slowly releasing was tops for me. He’s become like Tupac, where he mysteriously rolls out another batch of material every once in a while, and continues to confuse and confound us. The mix of patent absurdity, Big Brother paranoia, government secrecy, Information Age moral conundrums and larger than life story lines really captured the spirit of 2013. This would be funny if it wasn’t so fucking scary.

*****

NAME: David Pepin

NEWS ORGANIZATION: The Call/The [Pawtucket] Times

PROFESSIONAL TITLE: Managing Editor

WHAT SUBJECTS AND/OR GEOGRAPHICAL TERRITORY DO YOU COVER? Woonsocket, Pawtucket…northern RI

WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE QUOTE YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR? WHO SAID IT AND WHEN/WHY?

“This is an issue of fairness, and I have to uphold this principle, despite the threats made against me.” State Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algiere on his vote to legalize same-sex marriage, despite being a target of intense lobbying by NOM RI and even a Westerly priest from the pulpit.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE A PARTICULARLY SURREAL, INFURIATING, INSPIRING, OR OTHERWISE MEMORABLE MOMENT FROM YOUR REPORTING THIS YEAR? THIS CAN BE A SINGLE MOMENT OR A PATTERN OF EVENTS PLAYING OUT OVER A PERIOD OF TIME.

Being at the Statehouse the day the House voted to legalize same-sex marriage and Chafee signed the bill. It was that rare occasion that happy people gathered at the Statehouse to see government do something that affected them positively. It was a taste of what being a Berliner in 1989 must’ve been like – that wall fell so suddenly after so long, and that bill was passed suddenly after all that time, too.

LASTLY (AND YOUR ANSWER HERE DOESN’T NECESSARILY HAVE TO RELATE TO RHODE ISLAND), WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE POP CULTURAL ARTIFACT OF 2013 AND WHY? THE ANSWER CAN BE A SONG, A BOOK, A TV SHOW, A VIRAL VIDEO, A FILM, ETC.

One: Nationally, about two weeks after that Sharknado movie came out (which I still haven’t seen), Sports Illustrated did a cover story on the Pittsburgh Pirates with a subhed on the cover referring to their “Sharknado bullpen.” Think that editor will look at the cover next year and say “What the #@$% was I thinking?”

Two (and I participated in this one): The Providence Newspaper Guild Follies’ “Lincoln Chafee Style” number, starring James Brown, the hardest-working Linc Chafee impersonator in show business. We married political satire and the the epitome of a viral video, and brought down the house.

*****

NAME: Dan McGowan

NEWS ORGANIZATION: WPRI.com

PROFESSIONAL TITLE: Digital Reporter

WHAT SUBJECTS AND/OR GEOGRAPHICAL TERRITORY DO YOU COVER?

Providence, politics and education policy

WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE QUOTE YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR? WHO SAID IT AND WHEN/WHY?

Restaurant owner Gianfranco Marrocco on Providence’s plan to crackdown on bars that allow indoor hookah smoking: “Outlaw hookahs and bottle service, what a world-class Mickey Mouse city.”

WHAT WAS THE MOST MIND-BOGGLING FACT OR STATISTIC YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR?

I’ve got two of them.

Chronic absenteeism in schools: At least 30% of the students at more than two dozen elementary, middle and high schools across the state were absent 18 days or more during the 2011-12 school year, according to a WPRI.com review of data provided by the Rhode Island Department of Education.

In all, 17% of all Rhode Island students were labeled chronically absent – the term for students who miss 10% of the 180-day school year– in 2012 and 29 schools from nine communities saw at least 30% of their students absent at least 18 days.

The national average for chronic absenteeism is 10%, according to a study released in 2012 by the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University.”

Providence parking tickets: “Records show the city is owed $31,207,499 for more than 400,000 parking tickets that are at least a month overdue.”

CAN YOU DESCRIBE A PARTICULARLY SURREAL, INFURIATING, INSPIRING, OR OTHERWISE MEMORABLE MOMENT FROM YOUR REPORTING THIS YEAR? THIS CAN BE A SINGLE MOMENT OR A PATTERN OF EVENTS PLAYING OUT OVER A PERIOD OF TIME.

I think one of the most memorable moments was watching Angel Taveras make the leap from a first-term mayor of Providence to a serious gubernatorial candidate. This, of course, wasn’t surprising to anyone who pays attention to politics, but I still remember sitting in the cold rain in an Olneyville parking lot back in 2010 and watching him trip over his own words as he announced his campaign for mayor.

I’ve covered the guy every step of the way and it’s been fascinating to see him morph into one of the most popular politicians in the state. We’ve clashed a lot (there was that year where his office literally wouldn’t speak to me), but watching him go from a guy some thought didn’t have the guts to create change in the city to someone who stared down municipal bankruptcy, made difficult decisions, and still lived to talk about it, has been a thrilling ride.

WHAT WAS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF 2013 FOR THE CITY, REGION, OR BEAT THAT YOU COVER? HOW WILL YOU LOOK BACK ON THIS YEAR? FEEL FREE TO USE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES – PEOPLE, BUSINESSES, EVENTS, ETC. – IN YOUR ANSWER.

For the two very broad beats that I cover (Providence and education), 2013 should probably be viewed as a transitional year. In the city, a lot of groundwork has been laid for another renaissance (think the plans to build a streetcar and transform Kennedy Plaza), but so much is up in the air because the city will elect is third mayor in 12 years next November. On the education front, improving schools has become one of the most polarizing topics in the country, but for maybe the first time, it’s an issue that a lot of people are buzzing about. Think about it: Testing is leading the 6:00 news, being discussed at length on talk radio and constantly making the front page of the Journal. People actually care. There are productive conversations happening at the state level with passionate leaders like Education Commissioner Deborah Gist and Board of Education Chairwoman Eva Marie Mancuso, and perhaps more importantly, on the local level with groups like the Providence Student Union. If 2013 was a year for debate, 2014 might be a year for real change.

LASTLY (AND YOUR ANSWER HERE DOESN’T NECESSARILY HAVE TO RELATE TO RHODE ISLAND) WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE POP CULTURAL ARTIFACT OF 2013 AND WHY? THE ANSWER CAN BE A SONG, A BOOK, A TV SHOW, A VIRAL VIDEO, A FILM, ETC.

Anyone who doesn’t see that the rise and fall of Eminem directly coincides with the rise and fall of our economy just hasn’t been paying attention. Now that he’s back on top of his game (best album of 2013, by the way), the sky’s the limit for our country.

*****

NAME: Tim White

NEWS ORGANIZATION: WPRI-TV

PROFESSIONAL TITLE: Investigative Reporter

WHAT SUBJECTS AND/OR GEOGRAPHICAL TERRITORY DO YOU COVER? Public corruption, government waste, organized crime, policy and politics.

WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE QUOTE YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR? WHO SAID IT AND WHEN/WHY?

“You piece of shit, look at me.”

The quote itself lacks tact, but when you consider it was said to notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger during his sentencing, it carries more weight.

It was said (scratch that, yelled) by Steven Davis, whose sister was allegedly strangled to death by Bulger (in the end, the jury couldn’t decide if he was guilty on that charge). Bulger sat with his back to family members as they gave their impact statements, and Davis finally had enough.

I covered much of Bulger’s trial and while I ran a more sanitized version of his sentencing, the FCC doesn’t regulate Twitter, which was a key tool for me at federal court.

WHAT WAS THE MOST MIND-BOGGLING FACT OR STATISTIC YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR?

Allow me to offer two; but the same story and person. My colleague Ted Nesi and I reported that outgoing Lifespan CEO George Vecchione was given an $8 million payment in 2011, according to the most recent financial documents. In all we determined Vecchione made $39 million dollars since he took over the not-for-profit in 1998.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE A PARTICULARLY SURREAL, INFURIATING, INSPIRING, OR OTHERWISE MEMORABLE MOMENT FROM YOUR REPORTING THIS YEAR? THIS CAN BE A SINGLE MOMENT OR A PATTERN OF EVENTS PLAYING OUT OVER A PERIOD OF TIME.

I was stunned the way Lifespan handled another story: we unearthed that a convicted sex offender was working as a fulltime electrician at R.I. and Hasbro Children’s Hospital. Initially the organization said they were aware he was working there and stood by their decision to keep him on the job. Then just days before we went to air, they terminated him. The move and their tortured explanation of events made the report less about the individual, and more about Lifespan and their handling of this case.

WHAT WAS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF 2013 FOR THE CITY, REGION, OR BEAT THAT YOU COVER? HOW WILL YOU LOOK BACK ON THIS YEAR? FEEL FREE TO USE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES – PEOPLE, BUSINESSES, EVENTS, ETC. – IN YOUR ANSWER.

I hate to rip-off other people but “it’s the economy stupid.” Rhode Island’s inability to rebound from the epic financial collapse of 2008 – like most of the country has – impacts everything. It shapes almost every story we cover in some form or fashion and will certainly drive the dialogue as we ramp up for the 2014 campaign season.

LASTLY (AND YOUR ANSWER HERE DOESN’T NECESSARILY HAVE TO RELATE TO RHODE ISLAND) WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE POP CULTURAL ARTIFACT OF 2013 AND WHY? THE ANSWER CAN BE A SONG, A BOOK, A TV SHOW, A VIRAL VIDEO, A FILM, ETC.

This is definitely not my beat (Miley Cyrus who, now?). My initial reaction was to go with the sale of Bob Dylan’s electric guitar… in my house, Dylan was on constantly in the background as a lad.

But – while I’m not sure this is a pop cultural “artifact” – I’m going to go with the people of San Francisco coming together to transform it into Gotham City so a five-year-old leukemia patient (thankfully in remission) could become Batkid. I watched every story I could find on that.

*****

NAME: Tim Faulkner

NEWS ORGANIZATION: ecoRI News

PROFESSIONAL TITLE: writer/editor

WHAT SUBJECTS AND/OR GEOGRAPHICAL TERRITORY DO YOU COVER? Environmental issues in Rhode Island and Massachusetts

WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE QUOTE YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR? WHO SAID IT AND WHEN/WHY?

"Under the extreme events, (scientists) are indicating we are on the way to have a climate more like Georgia here very shortly. So if you want to plant peaches now is the time to start." Grover Fugate, Executive Director of the Coastal Resource Management Council said during an Oct. 10 meeting of the House Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources.

WHAT WAS THE MOST MIND-BOGGLING FACT OR STATISTIC YOU REPORTED THIS YEAR?

Between the1950s and the 1980s Rhode Island lost 80 percent of its agricultural land.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE A PARTICULARLY SURREAL, INFURIATING, INSPIRING, OR OTHERWISE MEMORABLE MOMENT FROM YOUR REPORTING THIS YEAR? THIS CAN BE A SINGLE MOMENT OR A PATTERN OF EVENTS PLAYING OUT OVER A PERIOD OF TIME.

Two bills passed this year that will eventauuly make it easier for developers to build in protected areas.

WHAT WAS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF 2013 FOR THE CITY, REGION, OR BEAT THAT YOU COVER? HOW WILL YOU LOOK BACK ON THIS YEAR? FEEL FREE TO USE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES – PEOPLE, BUSINESSES, EVENTS, ETC. – IN YOUR ANSWER.

The analysis of Superstorm Sandy and winter storm Nemo revealed the vulnerabilities of our natural and manmade ecosystems.

LASTLY (AND YOUR ANSWER HERE DOESN’T NECESSARILY HAVE TO RELATE TO RHODE ISLAND), WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE POP CULTURAL ARTIFACT OF 2013 AND WHY? THE ANSWER CAN BE A SONG, A BOOK, A TV SHOW, A VIRAL VIDEO, A FILM, ETC.

A Map of Tulsa by Benjamin Lytal was my favorite book this year.

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