Markos Papadatos, Power Journalist & Entertainment Reporter for WindyCity Greek, was recently named “Journalist of the Year”. Meet him!
Markos Papadatos: Award-winning ‘Power Journalist’
Power Journalist Markos Papadatos is on fire. In the last year, he’s won several awards for his work. We recently sat down with Markos to talk about his life, his work, and what’s next. Let’s meet him!
Maria A. Karamitsos: Where were you born and raised?
Markos Papadatos: I was born in Flushing, NY, and I was raised in Bayside, NY. Also, I lived in Greece from 4th grade to 7th grade, and I attended junior high school there. I learned a lot living in Aigion City, Greece, in Achaea.
In junior high school in Greece, I learned the following subjects: Modern Greek, Ancient Greek, Mathematics, Greek Literature, Home Economics, The Odyssey, The Iliad, English, French, Geography, History, Biology, Chemistry, Religion, Music, Technology, Computers, Art and Physical Education. Schooling in Greece really prepared me well when my parents and I moved back to NY in August, 1998. I could not believe how advanced students in Greece were in Math, especially in Geometry!
MAK: Where do you trace your Greek roots?
MP: Both of my parents were born and raised in Kefalonia.
MAK: Tell us about growing up Greek.
MP: When I lived in Greece for four years, I spent autumns and winters in Aigion City, where I attended school, and summers on the beautiful island of Kefalonia with family and relatives.
In NY, where I live on Long Island, I attend the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in West Babylon.
MAK: When did you start writing?
MP: I first started writing poetry in high school at Saint Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows, NY. It was part of the high school’s literary magazine, Little Portion, which was moderated by Mr. Eric Hafker, my 11th grade English teacher. He really inspired me to start writing creatively, especially poetry. Thank you Mr. Hafker, if you are reading this!
I was bitten by the writing bug officially at Queens College, my alma mater, where I joined the college newspaper, The Knight News. During my tenure at the newspaper, I served as its Public Relations Manager and Editor. With my help, as well as an exceptional Editor-in-Chief, the paper grew exponentially from its original size (12 pages in black & white), into a lengthy paper (which reached 96 pages at one point), and it was in color. At the time, it felt like one was reading a college version of The New York Times, due to the many sections that the newspaper had. I was proud to get my start in journalism at Queens College. I loved doing my Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degrees at Queens College so much. In my opinion, Queens College is the crown jewel of the City University of New York (CUNY).
MAK: Did you always want to be a writer?
MP: Actually, I did not. I studied accounting originally, in college, which was a bit tedious for me, and then I studied education, but due to the hiring freeze it was impossible to find a teaching job in New York. Writing just kind of slapped me in the face, by accident, and I am really glad it did, since I have been immersed in it ever since. The college newspaper was looking for dedicated writers at the time. to contribute their work. I am really glad I joined their staff, since it taught me the tools of the trade, without the need to ever attend a single journalism class.
MAK: What do you love most about your work?
MP: I love meeting new people, and that my writing makes people happy. Journalism gives me the opportunity to meet and interview some people that I idolized growing up. If anybody had told me five or 10 years ago that I would be meeting and interviewing some of the people that I’ve met in my work, I would have called them “absolutely insane.” I say this everyday: ‘I truly have the best job in the world.’ I work every day, most of the day, all week long (all seven days), and it doesn’t even feel like work. It’s pure joy and pleasure!
An added treat is when publicists or artist managers or the artists themselves tell me that “I did a great job” on their profile pieces, and that they learned something new about themselves from my articles. That really is the icing on the cake!
MAK: Does your Greek heritage inspire you in your work? How so?
I love this question! Yes, it does. My mom, Effie, taught me to work hard, to treat people kind, to be conscientious and reliable, and to always be grateful. Reliability and punctuality are both essential qualities for journalists.
My mother always taught me to try and say a good word about everyone and focus on the positive values of the people that I interview, and I try to instill that in my articles and reviews. At least 90 percent of my CD and album reviews are positive ones. If I dislike an album or show, I try not to write about it at all, unless I absolutely have to.
MAK: What was your first published article, and where was it published?
MP: The first article that I ever wrote was entitled “And the Winner Is,” which was an Oscar predictions piece for the 2006 Academy Awards. It was published on February 16, 2006, in the Queens College The Knight News! Seeing your name in print is an amazing feeling! It’s like an artist hearing their song on the radio for the first time. I remember seeing that first hard copy circulating on campus, and I could not contain my excitement. I must have taken half a batch of newspapers of that issue to bring home to my mother to show!
In that article, I predicted my favorite actor at the time, Philip Seymour Hoffman, would win the ‘Best Actor’ Oscar that year for his transformative acting work in Capote. Sure enough, I was right, and a few years later, I had the good fortune to meet he late actor in person, and I told him that Capote was indeed ‘stellar,’ and it was one of the coolest feelings. He shook my hand and was really gracious.
Also, the first singer I ever interviewed was country singer Chuck Wicks, again for Queens College’s The Knight News, and that kicked off my love for interviewing country artists.
MAK: You’re definitely a power journalist! How many articles have you published during your career?
MP: Thank you for the nice compliment! I will celebrate my 12-year anniversary as a journalist on February 16, 2018. It feels like time flew by!
As of January 6, 2018, I have published 7,901 articles. Ask me in a week, or a month, and that number will be a lot higher.
MAK: What are your favorite things to write about?
MP: Mostly, I love writing about music. Lately, I’ve gotten into magic (I’m a huge fan of Greek-American magician Criss Angel), and sports, especially swimming and track and field. Growing up in Greece, I was a novice track and field athlete. I love writing about pole vault and other field events. I love interviewing Olympic medalists, and picking their brains on what drives them and motivates them.
I’ve also gotten into interviewing actors, especially daytime actors. American soap operas are really popular in Greece such as “The Young and The Restless” and “The Bold and The Beautiful.” I commend them for all of the hard work that they put in each day. They have to memorize anywhere from 40 to 80 pages of script each day!
Most importantly, I love writing about Greek culture and cuisine. I love reviewing good Greek restaurants in NY and local church events and functions that Greek families can attend and enjoy.
MAK: You’ve received many honors and awards for your work. Talk about some of them.
MP: Wow! Over the last two years alone, I have won three awards that are very special to me. On New Year’s Day 2017, I won “Best Twitter Account from Long Island” for my Twitter handle @powerjournalist, from where I tweet all of my articles. On November 12, 2017, I was honored as “Journalist of the Year” by the Hellenic News of America. That was the biggest thrill to be honored by the Greek-American community, on the 30 year anniversary gala of the respected bilingual publication.
A few days, ago, I found out that I won again for the 2018 “Best of Long Island” competition in the “Arts & Entertainment” category for “Best Blog.” That was really great!
MAK: Tell us about receiving the Journalist of the Year from Hellenic News America (HNA).
MP: That was such a magical night, and one I will never forget in my life! It was perhaps my proudest professional moment. What made it remarkable was that I brought my mother with me to celebrate. The founder and publisher, Paul Kotrotsios, and co-publisher Aphrodite Kotrotsios did an excellent job. I was so stoked to be the youngest honoree, with all these distinguished Greek-Americans that were honored for their prolific work in their fields.
I was thrilled that the HNA gave me the opportunity to say a short acceptance speech to thank several important people that helped me along the way. The biggest ‘thank you’ was to my mother, Effie Papadatos, for being my greatest supporter, inspiration, and champion in life. “Mom, thank you for raising me to be a valued member of the Greek-American community. I love you.”
MAK: What are you working on now?
MP: On any given day, I am working on anywhere from five to 12 articles on various subjects. Lately, I have been doing a lot of electronic dance music (EDM) interviews, album and concert reviews. EDM is popular worldwide, especially in the U.S. and in Greece.
MAK: What’s next for the Power Journalist?
MP: Just to continue doing what I’m doing: reviewing shows and events, and interviewing a lot more famous people about their latest projects and careers. I’m hoping to reach 10,000 articles someday. That would be the ultimate milestone, and once I accomplish that, surpass it!
MAK: Anything else we should know?
MP: Thank you so much for your time! Many thanks to the Greek-American community for all of their love and support. I’m always here to support them as well!
Thank you, Markos!
Hope you enjoyed getting to know Markos Papadatos. We wish him our heartfelt congratulations on his recent accolades, and all the best in the future. Watch for more to come from the ‘Power Journalist’.
Follow Markos on Twitter
Read some of Markos’ articles on WindyCity Greek