Name:Rita Papazian

Friday, July 07, 2006

Just the beginning……….

My earliest attraction to newspapers was when I was ten years old. My father would bring the New York World Telegram from Manhattan to our home in Yonkers, NY. I would get on the floor in the living room and flip the pages to the crimes stories. My fascination with crime has never waned.

Although I never realized my dream to be a crime reporter for the New York Daily News, my 30-plus year writing career, mainly as a community newspaper journalist in Connecticut, has given me opportunity write about crime.

Twenty-five years ago I turned a local crime story about a rape into an article for a national magazine, Woman’s World. Back then, it was pretty newsworthy for the victim to be hypnotized to give a better description of the assailant. Sure enough, the artist’s sketch led to the ultimate arrest of the suspect. Then there was the car theft that led to a very well publicized dog-napping when it was discovered that the car, left idling momentarily at the Westport Railroad Station, was stolen with a prized dog inside. Following weeks of worry, the story ended happily when through massive publicity the dog was found in a pound in Queens, NY, but not after an arduous journey throughout the New York boroughs when the car thief tried to unload the pooch.

Then, there was the story about the female prostitute, whose body was found in the waters of a prestigious Fairfield County boat club. Turned out she lived in a neighboring city, but we never learned why her body was floating in the protected dock waters.

If it’s not crime that has grabbed my lust for news, it’s celebrity, and nothing was more exciting than the time President Bill Clinton came to Westport after the Monica Lewinsky scandal. After leaving the tony restaurant where he spoke at a fundraiser, he walked across the street to the waiting enthusiastic crowd. As he walked passed the crowd, shaking hands, he stopped in front of a young woman. He pointed to her chest as she opened her raincoat to show off her…T-shirt, which read: I never slept with Bill Clinton. Yes, the former president can certainly take a joke. He grinned from ear-to-ear.

My reporting assignments continue to satisfy my thirst for celebrity. I covered Princess Anne, in Greenwich, Martha Stewart, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Don Imus, Phil Donohue, Marlo Thomas, among others in Westport; and also Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Sr., and Lillian Carter in Fairfield.

Currently, in Madison, I have a book beat, reporting on the latest books by authors who do book-signings at R. J. Booksellers, an acclaimed independent bookstore. I’ve reported on David McCullough, Frank McCourt, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Sebastian Junger and Jonathan Unger. Let’s not forget Lorraine Bracco and Jane Fonda, among others.

Between the childhood days reading the New York metropolitan newspapers and reporting on the news and happenings in Connecticut, I’ve spent my adolescent years growing up in Hicksville, Long Island – the home of Billy Joel – and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and a master’s degree in secondary education at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, L.I.

I am immensely proud of the education I received at this university and proud to say that some of its prominent alumni, who also attended during my years there, have included director Francis Ford Coppola, the late actress Madeline Kahn, and singer/actress Lainie Kazan.

Upon graduation, I married my college sweetheart, Norman Papazian, and I opted for a career in teaching, instead of journalism. Following a three-year stint teaching English, I quit the profession to devote full-time to raising our three children, until the wanderlust for journalism attracted me back to an interest that had won my heart in childhood.

I began writing features for the Fairfield-Citizen News. More than 30 years later, I am still writing for the newspaper and its sister publications, including the Norwalk-Citizen-News, where I’ve been writing a weekly column, one that began at another newspaper 20 years earlier. During the past 30-plus years, my articles have been published in many newspapers and magazines.


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