John Deutzman: WNYW-FOX 5 News, Investigative Reporter
by Derek Grosso
John Deutzman, an 11th-generation Long Islander who now lives in Manhattan, is a reporter at WNYW-FOX 5 News. Throughout his career, he's won nine Emmys and has been nominated more than a dozen times. Known for his aggressive and at times humorous style, John's stories have resulted in arrests, businesses being shut down and dozens of victims getting their money back from scam artists.
John describes himself as a 50/50 mix of his two grandfathers. One was a journalist who owned the town paper, the "Smithtown Messenger," and the other was one of the first cops in town with a reputation for being tough and crazy, but fair.
Congratulations on your recent successes. It must feel pretty good to win not one, but two Emmys.
Thanks! It's always nice to have your peers tell you that you've done a great job with a story.
Where were you born and where do you currently reside?
I was technically born in Bay Shore's South Side Hospital because that was the only hospital near Smithtown at the time. I was raised in Smithtown and I currently have an apartment in Manhattan.
You were raised in Smithtown. What do you remember most about growing up on Long Island?
We lived in a very tight neighborhood. There were lots of kids to hang with. We never locked our doors when we went on vacation. Everyone trusted each other. On a typical summer day I would disappear until dinnertime. These days if your kid did that you'd be calling out the body-sniffing dogs.
Please walk us through a day in your life.
I usually hop on the subway and head to work at the FOX5 studios around 9:00 a.m. Some days we're out of the door as early as 5:00 a.m. staking out some shady character. I'm either in the field working on a story or I'm in the office writing, researching or helping the editing of a story.
Tell us more about your award-winning segments, "Ticket Patrol" and "Mayor's Parking," and how (if at all) they impact the news and views of Long Islanders (or New Yorkers in general)?
"Ticket Patrol" was a tongue-in-cheek "counter attack" of Mayor Bloomberg's Parking Ticket Blitz. We bought a cheesy fake badge from "Toys R Us" and printed up a bunch of fake parking tickets. We went around town ticketing people who were dangerous parkers--doing things like parking in front of fire hydrants or on the sidewalks. It turns out they were all NYPD traffic agents--the guys who write the tickets! We got the message across that the people who write the tickets better start playing by the rules. "Mayor's Parking" was about how the Mayor of Tuckahoe, Mike Martino, magically took over the handicapped parking spot at Village Hall and made it the official "Mayor's Parking Space." The handicapped parking sign was covered over with gaffers tape and Martino's name was put over the tape with cheap letters you can buy at Home Depot. The handicapped spot was moved as far away from the front door of Village Hall as possible. After we chased the Mayor around, The Village of Tuckahoe built a brand new handicapped spot right next to the front door. Imagine that!
How long have you been at the station?
3 ½ years
Brief us on your background before you joined the FOX 5 team.
I started my career in Binghamton, New York. I did everything from shoot camera to anchor the news. My original goal was to be a sportscaster. I went from Binghamton to Springfield, Massachusetts, where I eventually became the main sports anchor for WWLP-TV, the NBC affiliate there. From Springfield I jumped to Miami and switched from sports to news during Hurricane Andrew.
Do you have a favorite or interesting story about one of your reports that you would like to share?
This winter, New York City Councilman Allan Jennings attacked me. He threw a chunk of metal at me while I was doing a standup outside his house. It was all captured on camera. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. The event went national and made "The Daily Show" with John Stewart. Despite winning nine career Emmys, the highlights of me getting attacked that played over and over on "The Daily Show" finally gave me credibility with my 16-year old son!
How did you get started in investigative journalism?
In Miami, my boss switched me into the investigative unit. My first story proved that parking meters in Fort Lauderdale were ripping off people big time. Sometimes people were getting half the time they paid for on the meters. After the story aired, the Mayor of Fort Lauderdale had hundreds of parking meters replaced and the story won an Emmy.
Where did you receive your education?
I graduated from Smithtown West High School in '77 and then went to Springfield College in Massachusetts, where I received a degree in Health Education in '81. I did an internship at WWLP-TV in Springfield, Mass., and that's where I caught the broadcasting bug.
Do you have someone who is/was a mentor for you in your career or life?
I studied people I liked on TV. Warner Wolf for his energy level and style. Howard Cossell for his guts to ask tough questions. In this business you need people in charge who are in your corner. I am forever grateful to Keith Silver, the news boss at WWLP-TV in Springfield, Mass., for giving me my first big break. Neil Goldstein, my boss in Miami and New York, for advancing my career and my current boss, Scott Matthews, for his continued support.
What is your favorite restaurant?
Dallas BBQ chain in Manhattan. Tacky but yummy.
Museum of Natural History in New York
TVSpy.com (Gossip about the business)
Fantastic (said in a sarcastic "Seinfeld" way)
Hollywood Beach, Florida
Favorite local sports team?
Favorite place on Long Island?
Robert Moses State Park
Favorite place in Manhattan?
Biking along the Hudson
Favorite place in the United States or abroad?
Most recent book read or movie seen?
Movie: Team America
What newspaper(s) did you read this morning?
NY Post and Daily News
I would like a lifetime subscription to __________ magazine.
Weekly World News (sick right?)
Historic figure you would most like to meet, living or dead?
Former New York Mayor LaGuardia
Most dynamic duo, real or fictional?
Hillary and Bill
Who would you like to see run for President?
You're in a time machine that can take you to one place. Where do you go?
Long Island in the 1500's
Most important life lesson?
Trust your heart, not your head.
What makes Long Island special?
Beautiful beaches and the most legit people left on earth.
We hear you have some great stories coming up in May. Give us the inside scoop.
We're going after politicians who are deadbeats and owe the government money. Exposing a contractor who continues to break the rules on Long Island and giving you tips on how to prevent child abductions... the rest is "top secret" and you will have to tune in to FOX5 News to find out.
You heard it here. Tune in to John and the FOX 5 Team on WNYW-TV or visit www.fox5ny.com.