Side Bar: Joe Siegel

Side Bar: Joe Siegel

Joe has been a freelance writer for over 20 years and has interviewed many people from all walks of life, including politicians, including State Representatives, Congressmen, civil rights activists, World War II veterans, Police and Fire Chiefs, athletes, entertainers, and School Superintendents. He has even spoken with one of the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes.

He has been writing for The Smithfield Times for the last five years. He cites numerous memorable stories over his tenure here, but among his favorites include a profile he did on the Bryant University President, Ross Gittell; articles where he learned about the history of the East Smithfield Neighborhood Center; and another about the creation of a memorial to the individuals who drowned at Georgiaville Pond. A few years ago, he covered a Drug Awareness event at Smithfield High School.

“I had never known how much of a threat fentanyl posed to our society, particularly adolescents,” Joe says. “Learning about the insidiousness of opioids was an eye-opening experience for me. John Tassoni (former owner of The Smithfield Times and a former State Senator) was one of the speakers that evening, and his passion for the issue made an impression on me. With John’s assistance, I went on to interview people who had overcome substance abuse problems. The experience gave me greater insight as to how drugs and alcohol can be so destructive.”

Joe enjoys meeting different people and sharing their stories with readers.

“It’s a terrific way to educate the community and I find it highly rewarding,” he says. “Smithfield is an ideal community in many ways because it combines the best aspects of a town and a small city. I’ve been here for nearly 20 years and I still find plenty of new places to go hiking. My favorites are Mercer Outlook, Stump Pond, and the Stillwater Scenic Trail. We have so much natural beauty all around us. It deserves to be protected.”

Joe attended a small college in New Hampshire where he majored in English and wrote for the school newspaper. He was the Arts and Features Editor for two years, and reviewed plays and movies. He also had his own editorial column.

“It was a valuable training ground,” he says. “One of the most important lessons I learned was how to stand up for my own opinions when other people criticized me.”

After graduating from college, Joe’s career path took him to some unexpected destinations. He attended a radio school in upstate New York and obtained a broadcasting license. He also worked as a proofreader for a legal publishing company in Florida and later was employed as a correspondence analyst for a credit card company.

“Those were very unique experiences, to say the least,” Joe says.

Joe’s experiences have taught him a lot, and he wants to share what he has learned with others.

“The best advice I would give to aspiring journalists is to have faith in their own abilities,” he says. “Take risks and dig deep to find the truth. The greatest reward is meeting someone who has overcome tremendous obstacles and then having the ability to tell that person’s story. No matter how much resistance you might get from others, keep pushing yourself to do better and the rewards will be endless.”

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