Seton Hall writer-in-residence discusses career

Journalist, professor and current writer-in-residence, Anthony DePalma, recently completed and published his newest book, “The City of Dust: Illness, Arrogance, and 9/11.”

DePalma said his newest successes at Seton Hall have inspired a look into his past and his development from former student to current professor.

According to DePalma, his career began with the publication of a fiction story in The Setonian’s literary section, over three decades ago.

DePalma said his first inclinations as a writer were toward the fictional genre and currently has four unpublished novels.

DePalma’s early years also saw a draw towards broadcasting after landing an internship with New Jersey Public Television during his senior year at Seton Hall. He later went on to work as a senior producer of the nightly newscast.

However, DePalma said his stint at NJPT left him feeling “hollowed out,” and he made the switch to journalism “in hopes of regaining his voice.”

Starting as a freelance journalist covering a wide range of topics, DePalma climbed his way up the literary ladder, eventually securing a job with the New York Times.

DePalma’s New York Times career saw over two decades of writing and traveling, documented in hundreds of articles that were inspired by many different topics.

“One of the absolute wonders of working at a place like The New York Times is that you constantly have opportunities to shift your focus and take on a new beat,” DePalma said.

DePalma’s travels covered many events around the world such as the Zapatista uprising in Mexico, the Kosovo battles and Sept. 11.

During his time as a journalist, DePalma became an Emmy finalist, co-authored a Pulitzer Prize piece and won the Cabot Prize for Distinguished Reporting.

Two years ago, former university president Msgr. Robert Sheeran offered DePalma a chance to return to Seton Hall as a writer and professor.

As a professor, DePalma has taught Media in Latin America and International News Reporting. DePalma also said there will be a News Literacy class in the future.

Apart from teaching, DePalma published his newest book, for which Seton Hall had a book signing just over a week ago.

The book, “City of Dust: Illness, Arrogance, and 9/11”, covers the scientific and political investigation into the health effects of the dust that has remained in the New York air since the crumbling of the World Trade Center.

“In 2004 I took on an environmental and conservation beat for the Times,” DePalma said. “In 2006, when the death of NYC Police Detective James Zadroga was formally linked to ground zero dust by a medical examiner, my beat expanded to cover the health consequences of 9/11.”

DePalma went on to state that as the number and scope of his articles increased, the situations and characters became more complex, causing him to turn the research into a book.

“By talking with and interviewing many of the people involved, doctors, lawyers, public officials, residents and responders,” DePalma said. “I developed a special empathy with them and their efforts that compelled me to want to do more. ‘City of Dust’ is the result.”

Patrick Wedlock can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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