Journalists are an adventuresome bunch by nature.
During my 30 years in newspapers, I’ve had the privilege to work with countless colleagues who are passionate about exploration, reporters and editors eager to hike the next peak, paddle a new river.
One of my former co-workers left his job for a year to trek in Nepal and elsewhere in South Asia.
Another one left her reporting career altogether to hike the Appalachian Trail (and she made it!).
On a more modest scale, one current Gazette co-worker recently bicycled the length of the Erie Canal bike route for her summer vacation.
Last fall, a different co-worker loaded up his little Subaru for a weeklong solo road trip to the remote and chilly reaches of northern Canada.
To sleep at night, he stretched out his 6-foot, 2-inch frame in the back of his hatchback.
Then there are the weekend warriors.
Nary a week goes by that some Gazette newsie isn’t snowshoeing in the Adirondacks, backcountry skiing in Vermont or discovering on foot some up-and-coming city in the Northeast.
Adventure is a big part of life for many Gazette staffers.
And so it comes as a pleasant bonus that the newest member of the Gazette team is an explorer himself.
Pete DeMola started last week as our new reporter covering government and other happenings in Schenectady.
Pete, 36, is a veteran of numerous adventures big and small. At last count, he’d visited 15 countries outside the United States.
Pete’s grandest adventure to date was his eight-year stint in China, a trip he embarked on shortly after graduation from Syracuse University in 2005.
There, he worked for a period of time as a freelance journalist before landing a business-reporting gig with a state-run media outlet, a music-reporting position with a social media startup and a job with a Beijing-based record label.
Life in the land of 1.4 billion people was vastly different from Pete’s childhood in upstate New York in his hometown of Marcellus, population 6,210.
The experience was profound.
“Reporting from China during such a transitional time in the country’s history was eye-opening and formative,” DeMola says now.
When Pete returned to the States in 2013, it didn’t take him long to set out on his next adventure.
He relocated to New York’s North Country for a job reporting for a small newspaper in Essex County, the Sun Community News.
There, he quickly dove into reporting on some of the most critical issues facing the region, including economic-development challenges and land-use issues.
The beat also allowed Pete to flex his investigative muscles, eventually producing a series of enterprising reports about the state’s universal broadband initiative and criminal schemes involving rural Medicaid transportation.
Pete went on to get promoted to managing editor of The Sun, but not before receiving accolades for his reporting.
He was named the New York State Press Association’s Reporter of the Year in 2016.
And last year, he was named runner-up for NYPA’s Thomas G. Butson Award for In-Depth Reporting for a series of articles exploring the challenges facing the home health care industry in the Adirondacks.
For his latest adventure, Pete moved to Schenectady earlier this month to be close to City Hall and other spots that will loom large on his beat.
He’s already crisscrossing the city in search of stories, a better sense of life in the Electric City and, perhaps most importantly, good places to eat. Cooking, it turns out, is one of his top two hobbies along with traveling.
So far, thanks to a crowd-sourcing effort on social media, Pete has put together a growing list of eating establishments to try.
The list includes More Perreca’s, Druther’s and Mike’s Hot Dogs —and he’s just getting started.
So if you see Pete out and about in the coming weeks, perhaps enjoying an Italian pastry at Civitello’s or a pickle at The Dilly Bean, say hello.
If you’re lucky, he might have a minute to share a story about one of his adventures.
Miles Reed is the editor of The Daily Gazette.