BROOKE GLADSTONE: There are the five star generals of newspaper journalism, big book writers like Bob Woodward and star columnists with postage stamp pictures like Jimmy Breslin; and then there are the infantrymen, grunts who pound the pavement on dreary stories for undistinguished papers, like Mark Stamey of the New York Post. Stamey is short and squarefaced. A middle-aged man from a broken home in Syracuse, New York, he ran his own business for a while - salvage diving. Then he went to college, earning masters degrees in sociology and journalism. He was already 45 by the time he became a reporter, freelancing first for the New York Times before landing the job at the New York Post. At the Post he's covered fires, injured horses, fires, homicides, West Nile virus, evictions, and fires. [PARADE MUSIC] Stamey was working the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade the day I spent with him. [KIDS CHEERING] He pulled a sour face as Mickey Mouse, four stories high and six stories long, floated down Broadway. MARK STAMEY: I mean that's it. The guy owns the town here -Mickey Mouse. Took over 42nd Street. That's more than any gangster could ever do. BROOKE GLADSTONE: Stamey is cooling his heels at the parade, interviewing kids until something bigger happens. It does, and he's summoned back to the office, a short walk away. As a foot soldier he rarely writes a story by himself. In fact, he rarely writes a story. His job is to cover the story. Go to the scene while another reporter is dispatched, say, to the press conference and phone the facts, the quotes and the color he gathers. He nurses a healthy resentment for his white collar bosses back at the desk. MARK STAMEY: It's all right if I live in this world, but they don't want to even be brought, you know, aware of it! When I say you see, like, a dog licking human blood from the cracks of a sidewalk, I'm not inventing it. I mean this is - we wait - we'll - sometimes we end up walking in gore and not knowing it. BROOKE GLADSTONE: Why do you do it? MARK STAMEY: I need the job. I think I, I would rather not do it. I mean I need the money. I need the job. I need-- BROOKE GLADSTONE: You need this job-- MARK STAMEY: I need a job. [BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE] BROOKE GLADSTONE: -- at the New York Post, covering babies going out of windows. MARK STAMEY:No! I don't need that - nobody wants - no, I don't have any joy in that. None whatsoever. I've been told on occasion I'm too stupid to write my own [LAUGHS] stories and that the only thing I'm good for is driving the car. So they've got me kind of pigeonholed as a roughneck street guy, and I don't belong inside. Let's see what delights they have for us now. BROOKE GLADSTONE: Now at the Post, Stamey is sent on another story by city editor John Mancini. JOHN MANCINI: This is gonna be a little heartwarmer. MARK STAMEY: I can't wait. JOHN MANCINI:Fred Nunez is 16 years old. But just barely, because he had a Puffy jacket on, maybe not unlike yours, and somebody tried to st--somebody did stab him for it, but they didn't get his jacket. Stabbed 3 times. He's in serious condition at Jamaica Hospital. Why don't you check; make sure he's still in the hospital. He, we're pretty sure he is. And then go see him. Maybe the family brought a turkey over and a nice new jacket for him or something. MARK STAMEY: Some bandages. JOHN MANCINI: Yeah. So this could be-- BROOKE GLADSTONE: Stamey climbs into his jeep for the ride down to East New York. It's familiar territory to Stamey -- the rundown districts on the city's fringes. MARK STAMEY: I spend a lot of time in a lot of these other, you know, outer boroughs. BROOKE GLADSTONE: And are you saying there's, like there's no glamour, there's no romance, there's no sense of living your own drama in doing this kind of work? MARK STAMEY: You mean like, you know, the camera's swooping around while the theme song plays in the background and here you are being grand? BROOKE GLADSTONE: Yeah. That's what I mean. MARK STAMEY: No. No, it's all like emptying the trash can and changing the bed pans and -- no, there's no glamour in this. I can't imagine - I, I wouldn't be able to fantasize it being glamorous. BROOKE GLADSTONE: We arrive at the apartment house of Fred Nunez and park by a garbage pile. The building isn't locked, so we walk right in. [KNOCKING] CHILD: He' at the hospital! MARK STAMEY: At the hospital. That's what I thought. I think I'll go there instead. Yeah. Do you know Fred? CHILD: Mm-hm! MARK STAMEY: Yeah? Does anybody else here know him? He's a - may talk to somebody that knows him - the neighbors and-- CHILD: 1 D. MARK STAMEY: 1 D ? Downstairs? CHILD: Mm-hm. MARK STAMEY: Thank you. Thank you very much. Happy Thanksgiving. CHILD: He was like our cousin! MARK STAMEY: Yeah? Yeah, I heard he's a nice guy! I heard he just got it for his coat! Yeah. That's not good. We're here to help if we can. BROOKE GLADSTONE:After the interviews and a quick trip to the hospital, he phones in from an emergency room pay phone to dump the quotes his editors will assemble into a story. MARK STAMEY: Yes, I do. I'm at the hospital now. We were just told that we cannot go talk to the family, but they're - this kid's under heavy security because the perpetrators are still -apparently they're on the loose. But I went over to his building where he lived, and I spoke to people who knew --everybody knew him. Everybody had the same thing to say about this kid - uniformly - very positive. So one of the mothers in the neighborhood that knew him well, her name is Juliette - J U L I E T T E - Fisher - F I S H E R. Said comma quote "he got along with everybody dash -- all the kids like him and I like him. It's such a tragedy for a coat. I'm afraid for my own son. He has a name brand coat too period close quote." Good enough. All right. Have we got it then? Thank you Andy. Is Mancini still there? Who -is he the one that told me good night? Happy Thanksgiving, Andy. Bye, bye. BROOKE GLADSTONE:Having been "goodnighted" by his editors, he's free to go. So we take off. [CLATTER OF DISHES, SILVERWARE] There's a diner off the highway on the way from Jamaica Hospital in Queens not far from where Stamey used to live. They all know him there. I want to play the little juke box mounted in our booth, but he doesn't. Stamey says he finds it hard to relax. He doesn't have a close-knit family or a sheltering circle of friends. In fact - and he's pretty embarrassed by this - the only regular engagements he attends are Friday night Mensa meetings. BROOKE GLADSTONE:When you're covering your 6th fire in as many weeks, do you ever think to yourself does the public really need to know about this fire? I mean-- MARK STAMEY: Yeah! But then again, there's always that. Yesterday I covered a fatal fire of, of an NYU student who fell asleep using aroma therapy candles. You know, if you don't know about that you think what a benign little thing! Would be healthy to sleep all night; have a nice glowing light there. Wake up and the whole family's dead. 'Seen this a lot. BROOKE GLADSTONE:But it's the other stuff! It's the, it's the catalogue of miseries. You know, does that serve a, a, a-- a social function? A positive--? [BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE] MARK STAMEY: Yeah. It's not just voyeurism and it's not just--, you know--, intrusion so much as it is - there's a need, and we can tell people about it and they feel like -- more times than not people have come forward to help - especially if it's someone who's been killed. You say what can you do - he's dead? And you're saying well, you want him to be forgotten? You know, just another toe tag? BROOKE GLADSTONE: You know when I looked at your clips, fire after murder after-- MARK STAMEY: Train wreck after plane crash after defenestration after infanticide, parricide, homicide -- I mean come on -- whatever. BROOKE GLADSTONE: --I thought how can a person like that actually like their job? But you don't like your job. MARK STAMEY:I like it and I don't like it. The thing I like about my job is that it's infinitely challenging! It's a total one hundred percent I.Q. test a hundred percent of the time --gotta outwit all of New York City and get the story in the paper. What I hate is empathizing with the people whose children have been hurt--; I mean when people like that - are, are just so stricken with grief that they can't talk and they can't cry - they make this sound - they call it the "cri du chat" -- the cry of the cat. [DEMONSTRATES CRI DU CHAT] It's like a nonverbal, internalized, anguished wail that freezes in their vocal cords. And that stays with you! It, like, stains you, you know? BROOKE GLADSTONE: Back on the road, Stamey says the urban spectacles he serves up daily have earned him a twitch and many sleepless nights. MARK STAMEY:Yeah, I - it - I never want to be on that side of the story, but I live in constant fear that it's going to happen. I don't -- I'm gonna get shot. I think, myself, I'm gonna get shot. I'm gonna get--. I think anything can happen to anybody at any time, but we go out looking for it, and-- BROOKE GLADSTONE: He fantasizes about moving to Florida or Tahiti, but that's not gonna happen. MARK STAMEY:I wish there was a 12 Step program for journalism! Cause it's very much like an addiction! It's an addiction because it pulls you in; it beguiles you; it hooks you - and then it starts turning you inside out. And the rush is gone, and all that's left is the hangover! The hangover and the tedium, and you're just doing it like a zombie cause that's what you do every day - that's what you did every day - and it's not gonna change. BROOKE GLADSTONE: The next day he was back on the beat; back on another story. And it ran - under another shared byline. The headline read: [MUSIC UP AND UNDER] Queens Inferno Leaves Boy, 6, Gravely Injured.