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. louis curth says

    The Paul Smith’s College that Jim Odato writes about is a far cry from the place I graduated from in 1963. That is not to say we weren’t intolerant, but back then our prejudices played out mainly between the “stumpies” and the “hotelies”. For the most part, we put up with each other. Perhaps it was made easier by the isolation of the campus, or the weekly assembly when the entire student body trudged up to the gym to hear the booming voice of Doc Pickett (no electronic assist needed by him) inform us about activities for the week ahead.

    I was part of a student body which was overwhelmingly white and very, very male dominated. There were, however, a handful of black athletes recruited to play on the college basketball team and they were good! Without even decent radio reception for entertainment, the turnout for our collegiate basketball games was a sight to behold!

    The entire white student body would join together as one and root for our team with cheers and foot stomps that shook the rafters of that old gym. The irony in this was how we could all come together at such times, yet, in the days that followed, the old forester/hotelie rivalries would resume. Even more egregious was the isolation that our black basketball heroes faced daily and at mealtimes in the cafeteria, once they were off the basketball court.

    That invisible wall of separation changed for me when two foreign exchange students, one from Ghana and one from Liberia, joined our forestry class. For the first time in my life, I had real conversations with black people, and I discovered, much to my surprise, that they shared concerns and aspirations that weren’t so different from my own and those my white classmates.

    Such experiences, along with so many others, during the time I spent at Paul Smith’s College changed my life in ways too numerous to count. I would only wish that Paul Smith’s College may continue to influence today’s more diverse young students to rise to their better nature as they move through life in whatever future awaits them.

  2. Vanessa B says

    I have to admit, when I clicked through I was unsure per the title of this piece if the admin would be doing the right thing. I am happy my skepticism was unnecessary in this case. And you’re not just doing it so that future students will enroll – the real reason not to tolerate hate speech is because hate speech is immoral, period.

  3. Mark Neale says

    I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s just outside of Paul Smiths. (For you old timers, my dad owned “The Leaning Pine”). I remember the rivalries between the Foresters and the Hotel students and how Woodsman insect repellant smelled so bad but worked so well!! A couple of the foresters took me out shooting when I was old enough and although they were teenagers or barely older, they showed a lot of character. The only snowflakes there were those that fell from the sky….

    When the College says its “top goal is to boost enrollment” I am concerned. People are drawn to quality and if you focus on that, they will come. I suppose if you stray from a quality education experience long enough, you have to resort to gimmicks just to keep the doors open.
    The incident described is the high-tech version of “he called me a bad name”. I understand you want to minimize this but “zero tolerance” policies generally come back to hurt you.

  4. Chris says

    I’ll tell ya what would help the enrollment and reputation issue with the school. Not letting 10,000 + people have their information, including social security numbers, stolen and then sitting on the information for 6 months before sending out some sorry, wrongly addressed/named letters to some of those affected. And then never formally reporting on, admitting to, or recognizing that the event happened. And then ignoring every concerned alumni’s phone calls when they try to get any kind of information from the “leaders” of this school. It would help enrollment very much if clowns weren’t running the place

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