About James Odato

In a career rooted in watchdog reporting, Explorer editor James M. Odato has been cited as one of New York’s top journalists covering state government, gambling, and abuse and waste of public money. He has written thousands of articles, his byline has appeared in numerous national publications and his investigative stories have spurred reforms. As a staff reporter for five daily newspapers, including the Albany Times Union and Buffalo News, Odato has received more than 30 awards from the Associated Press, New York Publishers Association, the New York Legislative Correspondents Association and other media organizations. In 2007, Investigative Reporters and Editors recognized his reporting with the Freedom of Information Award Medal. In October 2021, the University of Massachusetts Press released his book, This Brain Had a Mouth, Lucy Gwin and the Voice of Disability Nation.

Reader Interactions


  1. Tara Genieys says

    In the charter letter written by the original board of trustees of Paul Smith’s College of Arts and Sciences to the Board of Regents when the college was founded there is a paragraph that distinctly states that the intention of the board was to create opportunities for underserved students and to provide them with occupational skills they could take out into the workforce. It was the intention of the founder, it was then the intention of the founding board and it’s the intention of FEDCAP. If anyone wishes to have access to the charter letter it is in the archives in the library on campus. IMO Fedcap and PSC are a match made in heaven. It was this letter which the BOR used in their decision to extend the charter to PSC. FOIL produced several amendments to the original charter as the school expanded their degree program. It can handle one more. I guarantee if Phelps Smith could see where we stand now at the precipice of furthering the future of the college by means of a collaborative RELATIONSHIP with those who seek the same and more, he would be very proud. That’s the pioneering spirit his father Apollos bred into him. So why doesn’t everyone involved stop, go back to the basics and find the answers. As an alumni I would personally love nothing more than to hear that the campus was thriving again and churning out hard workers and that the employees and administration on campus could be retained and work together doing what they do best. The world needs more Smitties.


  2. Andrew Charles Gardon says

    Articles like this only hurt. The fact that a teach out plan has to happen is simply that-fact. It’s a requirement, not a reflection on the school. This is a nation wide trend where small institutions like Paul Smith’s are struggling. Paul Smith’s has faced greater challenges than this, and I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that we will continue to thrive and make it through these somewhat challenging times.

    In the meantime, it would be appreciated if we weren’t attacked by the media around every corner we turn. Paul Smith’s has done nothing wrong, and is only trying to be successful in a challenging time for enrollment. Erroneous articles like this push the head down of a institution treading water.

    As a Paul Smiths Student, I have never felt more welcomed, accepted and encouraged to succeed with my goals both in college and for my career. I am proud to be a Smitty, and learn amoung such an incredible group of learners and professors. Paul Smith’s College is the life blood of the Adirondacks, and it’s success means the success of the Adirondacks, our community and our North Country way of life.

  3. Holly Harz says

    Its articles like these that spread rumors. Shame on you, Adirondack Explorer. I will agree with Ms Genieys…the world needs more Smitties. Lets look at all the positives…the new programs, the improvements being done on campus, instead of focusing on the “what ifs” and turning people away who think, from your headline, there might be a closure.
    PSC employs many. The college’s alumni are loyal and have made a huge impact after graduating. Why not choose to write about all the positives that the college provides? Find just a few of the many, many very successful alums and write about them and draw more students to the college?
    As a writer, you have a choice, and a large impact with your words. Please use it for the positive, for the good, not to sell a story, one that could do harm If people don’t read through and understand that the plan is just that…a PLAN “in case”–that is merely a requirement that YOU made sound like an imminent threat.
    You can do better….
    #till the last white pine falls #forever

  4. George Locker says

    What does Fedcap propose to pay to acquire Paul Smith’s buildings, infrastructure, and land? Where is this number?

    What is the financial and legal assurance that PS will continue to serve the students that it currently attracts after it is acquired by Fedcap? Where is the legal agreement?

    All I have read is a lot of vague statements of how great this acquisition could be. Notably absent is anything concrete or specific. I’m sure it’s great for Fedcap. But for PS? If it is so great, why not collaborate now? Or last year? What’s stopping Fedcap?

    I see a land grab and the eventual disappearance of PS. Do the writers who criticize this newspaper know something everyone else doesn’t know? Please share it. Otherwise, support this newspaper’s attempts to get at the truth.

    Keep up the great reporting!

  5. Anon says

    It is difficult to impress on someone who is not deeply involved in higher education, the magnitude of the changes that have occurred in the last 5 to 10 years. Add a global pandemic to the picture, and you have a perfect storm for the collapse of institutions of higher ed. across-the-board. Hundreds of colleges have closed due to low enrollment and thus, loss of principle revenue. Their campuses sit empty. They have closed because they could not find a way out of the socio-economic quagmire that is drowning traditional colleges. PSC is attempting to stave off the same ending as so many other gloriously historical and culturally important colleges. The college of the Adirondacks is not immune from the forces outside of the blue line. In fact, it is considerably more vulnerable to them. There are governing bodies that will protect the students and the quality of education that will be administered. I believe this is key to an ethical transition into the new landscape of higher ed. We just never believed it could happen here.

  6. Robert Grayson says

    A plan to “teach out” is not a plan to “close”. Very misleading headline that only serves to grab attention, increase circulation and throw shade on PSC. More ad dollars for the paper! If the paper is searching for revenue why not partner with PSC and set up a finders fee for every qualified/accepted student that matriculates in exchange for free advertising in every edition of the paper they publish. After all both institutions stand to benefit from a collaborative approach for the sake of the broader community. I might add that while some of the admissions are scant the omissions are numerous. It is the responsibility of college leaders to lead, they can start by leading the communication with transparency and honesty. That way the paper will have no other choice but to report on the facts and remove the speculation that these sorts of stories perpetuate.

    A follow up would be a breadth of fresh Adirondack air.

  7. Mary says

    How about having Mr. Odato write a positive story about the Paul Smith’s College community. I would love to see a story about the beneficial relationship between PSC students and the Paul Smith’s Gabriels Volunteer Fire Department and the Town of Brighton.

  8. Greg Hart says

    Paul Smith’s College is a gem and an enormous asset to our region. The graduates of PSC degree programs are well regarded in the workplace. The faculty, admin and staff are top notch. The Explorer reporting has simply pointed out that Middle States called for a plan in place to support the students in case there was a closure. Small private colleges are under considerable pressure these days and it is proper due diligence for the Commission to ensure that students (and their student loans) are supported.

    The other point brought up in the article is the relationship with Fedcap. In the world of workforce education and training, they have a good reputation. What new opportunities coming out of that partnership will ensure the future of PSC and benefit the region?

    Thanks for the good reporting

  9. George Locker says

    The nearly identical letters to Paul Smith’s trustees from Assemblyman Simpson and Mr. Martens both support a “partnership” between Paul Smith’s and Fedcap. They do not refer to an acquisition. They are not support for an acquisition.

    If Mr. Simpson or Martens support an acquisition of PS by Fedcap, they need to say so because Fedcap states unequivocally that it wants to acquire PS.

    Do the letters of support from alumni, students, staff and faculty refer to a partnership or an acquisition?

    If these groups support a partnership, then no one supports what Fedcap intends to do: acquire PS.

    If these groups support an acquisition, does anyone in these groups know the terms of sale? I think that no one really knows. Prove me wrong.

    Anyone who has knowledge of the actual terms of this deal should make it public.

  10. Frank Whitson says

    Any story about the Paul Smith’s –
    Gabriels VFD needs to go back to the student club, the Paul Smith’s
    Fire Department which was started in July 1966, when students
    ” recycled ” a 1945 fuel tanker and a 1943 500 gallon/ minute pumper
    which was found on the campus.
    I was the second historian and in
    2017 I finished 2 new expanded scrapbooks adding many never-
    before seen photos and documents. PSGVFD received assets from the college in the late
    70’s. These historical records can be found in the library.

  11. Lewis Rosenberg says

    As a longtime Explorer subscriber I join in the criticism of the tale of doom perpetuated by the “investigative report” gleefully predicting the demise of Paul Smiths College .
    To find necessary two ‘clarifications’ of its headline strongly
    suggests it was sensationalism that drove this article, rather
    than reporting the mundane bureaucratic approval process the
    College must go through, for its merger/acquisition with
    Fedcap . Admittedly the Explorer article was “misleading” perhaps
    warranting an investigation of the investigator.

    • George L says

      There is nothing mundane about Fedcap’s proposed acquisition of the assets of Paul Smith’s: its land, buildings, and infrastructure. That is why multiple state, Federal, and accrediting agencies are looking at the proposal. Legally speaking, this is a rigorous process. And it should be.

      This is business. Tell me, anyone, what are the terms of this acquisition? Why is it so great for PS?

      Why the secrecy? Why all of the no-comments?

      Why doesn’t the Board of Trustees explain the proposed deal to the public?

  12. Lenox says

    It’s embarrassing to see academics stoop to the level of leading a witch hunt and badmouthing the free and independent press for reporting on the cold hard realities facing this institution.

    The Adirondack Explorer is not Paul Smith’s publicist. It’s not their job to write stories to attract prospective students or soothe the shattered nerves of faculty and staff. To suggest otherwise reveals a complete lack of understanding of how journalism works.

    Furthermore, seems like Paul Smith’s stonewalled the AE when they asked for comment, thinking doing so would kill the story. Terrible strategy and a self-inflicted wound.

    Now people are upset and reflexively attacking the AE for probing this secretive deal, which is what actual credible news organizations do (as opposed to being stenographers). What an embarrassing episode for Paul Smiths – especially those calling for Odato’s resignation, including once credible public figures.

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