Rebecca Catalanello

Freelance writer and editor

Location icon United States

Rebecca Catalanello is a freelance writer and a contributing editor to PolitiFact. She spent 18 years as a newspaper reporter, writing for The Times-Picayune, the Tampa Bay Times/St. Petersburg Times, the Mobile Register and the Charleston (WV) Daily Mail. She has covered education, crime, healthcare, hurricanes, courts and issues related to sexual trauma. She also briefly oversaw freelance charter school reporting for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans. She was the publications and communications manager at the University of New Orleans for close to three years. Rebecca's work has been honored with a number of awards, including three regional EMMYs.


Overview: Samples of Work by Genre | The Times-Picayune
INVESTIGATIVE: Billing for rape

She was questioned, prodded and photographed over the course of six hours. Nurses collected samples of tissue and fluid from her mouth and her body. They took her urine, drew her blood and bagged her clothes. They offered her drugs to prevent pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. | The Times-Picayune
NARRATIVE: To New Bethany and back

She hobbled down the jetway carrying a suitcase, a pillow, a teddy bear for good luck. At the plane's entrance she stopped, paralyzed by dread and memories: blood, Pine Sol, broken glass, shame, God - and those barbed wire fences. God, those fences. She hugged the stuffed animal.

Tampa Bay Times

Hailey walked at 11 months, talked at 15 months, kicked her first soccer ball at 5. At 7, Olivia cannot stand and struggles to hold her head up. She smiles when she's happy, but she cannot say it. For years, Olivia's progress has been measured hour by hour, with each letter "S" her mother scribbles on calendars when she has a seizure. It wouldn't be hard to imagine a scenario in which the trajectory of the sisters' lives simply continues to diverge. But something in Hailey has resisted that....

Life With Aida
PERSONAL BLOG: On Motherhood

Hours after Aida was born, I rose from my hospital bed, put two feet on the ground and then felt the entire contents of my bladder empty onto the hard floor below. I had no idea this could happen. None. But when I mentioned the experience to other mothers, no one seemed surprised.

Going Deep: Features & Enterprise | The Times-Picayune
The Long Road to New Bethany and Back

For 25 years, Jennifer Halter, 39, had been living with memories of what happened to her at a religious girls' home in Arcadia, La. In her mind, the fences towered 15 feet high and stretched for miles, every chain link penning her in with the man she says sexually abused her, destroyed her faith and led her to try to kill herself. | The Times-Picayune
What is Katrina? The city's 9- and 10-year-olds tell us

They don't know what FEMA is. They have never heard of the Army Corps of Engineers. And they're pretty sure that before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans didn't have potholes. The children who were born the year of Katrina have no first-hand... | The Times-Picayune
A beleaguered leader seeks a better place for homeless, mentally ill through Exodus House

Terry Pellegrin kneels on one knee to help his slim, toothless neighbor with his shoes and socks. "I'm a working boy," the neighbor in his 50s says in a soft, high-pitched voice. Story by Rebecca Catalanello Staff writer Photos & video by Kathleen Flynn Staff photographer Pellegrin tugs the white socks over the man's ankles. | The Times-Picayune
Complaints, start-up struggles lead to Louisiana health co-op closure

Thousands of Louisianians who signed up for health insurance with the Louisiana Health Cooperative were abruptly notified last month the company would discontinue all coverage in 2016. It was likely surprising news to many of the 17,000 customers who relied upon the company to help pay for their health care needs.
Babies' first move: Infants invade Ochsner's Uptown hospital

Daybreak saw Jayden Rose Melancon for the first time, but she didn't see it.Little Jayden squeezed her eyes shut as a nurse rolled her wooden bassinette out of Ochsner Medical Center into the first morning light at 6:47 a.m., almost...

Tampa Bay Times
The Best Sister

It wouldn't be hard to imagine a scenario in which the trajectory of the sisters' lives simply continues to diverge. But something in Hailey has resisted that. She seems determined not to lose her grip on the being to whom she is closest in the world. Her mom thinks that because of Hailey's efforts, the sisters are closer now than ever. What makes a good sister? Hailey Scheinman doesn't have the answer. She's 7. Hailey Scheinman is the answer.

Children's Hospital Outbreak | The Times-Picayune
Children's Hospital: 'We failed to do what we should have done'

Five years after five patients died with a deadly fungal infection they received from hospital linens, Children's Hospital officials on Thursday began contacting the families to inform them their loved ones were affected by the outbreak. | The Times-Picayune
Fungal outbreak raises questions about hospital laundry oversight

The launderer's cell phone rang on a Sunday morning. "We have a problem," the voice on the other end said. "We need to replace all the linen in the hospital." Charles LeBourgeois, general manager of TLC Services, seemed to have a hard time understanding what he was hearing. "All the linen, Glenn?" | The Times-Picayune
How is your hospital laundering its linens? We tried to find out

After news broke that five children died at Children's Hospital from a fungal infection likely passed to them through their hospital linens, one of the first questions I had was how the hospital is laundering its linens today.

Higher Education Communications/PR

Silver & Blue - University of New Orleans Magazine
Life Changing: How a Professor's Near-Death Experience Inspired Meaningful Research for UNO Students

Donald Zimmerman thought he knew a lot about health care. For 33 years, he’d worked as a heath care policy researcher, professor and teacher. But it wasn’t until nearly three years ago, when he underwent surgery to halt an aneurysm and ended up in the intensive care unit of his local hospital for 43 days, that he had a regrettable awakening: Clinicians need to do a much better job valuing the patient as an actual person.
Eurofins Internship Pushes Student Scientists to Excel

Lauren Heflin stood in the laboratory, her gloved hands measuring fluids into tiny beakers. She is an A student majoring in biological sciences at the University of New Orleans. She is one of three students chosen for a competitive year-long internship at Eurofins, a global bioanalytical company with operations at the UNO Research and Technology Park, adjacent to campus.

Silver & Blue - University of New Orleans Magazine
The Beat Within: UNO Students Help Incarcerated Teens Write—and Breathe

Mike Mosko will always remember the day the 17-year-old boy came into the room, shaking uncontrollably before sitting down and burying his head in his hands. Mosko, a University of New Orleans student, was visiting the juvenile corrections facility to try to help youth offenders find a measure of comfort in self-expression through a program called The Beat Within. But the heaviness on this teen was unavoidable. Just breathe, Mosko advised the boy quietly before the start of the volunteer...

Silver & Blue - University of New Orleans Magazine
New Album from Music Prof Brian Seeger's Band Makes U.S. Radio Jazz Top 10

Brian Seeger once called his old guitar teacher to tell her thank you. She'd given him lessons for six months when he was 11. When she found out her former student had become a professional guitarist she was, in his words, "distraught." It just didn't seem like a suitable profession, she told him.

Silver & Blue - University of New Orleans Magazine
Midlo Center Celebrates 25 Years of Promoting Louisiana's History

Cheryllyn Branche sat at the front of the room, her hands resting on a cordless microphone as dozens of people waited to hear her story. Seven months earlier, the retired Catholic school principal didn’t know this was her story and she knew nothing about the woman seated next to her, Sandra Green Thomas.

Silver & Blue - University of New Orleans Magazine
Mr. Ambassador: UNO Distinguished Alumnus Mark Romig

Mark Romig grew up in Lakeview, the second of seven children born to devoted Catholic parents who loved their babies, loved the Saints and loved their city. He was a product of St. Dominic School, Brother Martin High School and, eventually, the University of New Orleans, where he learned he didn't want to be a dentist but he did want to be a leader.

Other random work that readers seemed to like
Pediatrician Dr. Keith Collins lived with zest and love

Theirs was a life of celebration. The day they met among friends, they attended eight Mardi Gras parades together and both left smitten. She told her girlfriend the next day that if he called her for a date, she knew...

Tampa Bay Times
School bullying widely underreported

It's been three years since Florida passed a groundbreaking law requiring schools to do a better job of identifying and reporting bullying. But the data collected so far indicate schools are falling short - and producing unreliable numbers. For two years in a row, nearly half of the state's 67 school districts reported less than 10 bullying complaints to the state.

Tampa Bay Times
Pinellas school district printer contract sparks teacher outcry

Second-grade teacher Christine Amstutz never thought she could get tearful about a printer. But when word came down at a faculty meeting that teachers' personal classroom printers could be confiscated under a new district directive, something in her broke. "It just felt like one more thing," said the 25-year teaching veteran.

Tampa Bay Times
Pinellas school auction offers bargain deals, but at what cost?

Tim Russell goes to lots of auctions to support his pawn business and lifelong hobby of buying and selling used goods. So he was stunned two weeks ago to walk away from the Pinellas County School District auction with hundreds of digital cameras, video recorders, projectors, VCRs, camera cases and more.

Some simple favorites, even if they're kind of old

St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times)
Homeless man found dead near where girlfriend died

TAMPA — The man started coming around about six weeks ago. He was an unemployed electrician. Fifty-two years old. A nice guy, though given to drink. Pastor Jarvis Ball liked the man. An electrician himself, Ball fed him, clothed him, invited him to attend services at Covenant of God Ministries here in Sulphur Springs. And the man did.

St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times)
Route of recovery

Progress is written in black ink on 4- by 8-inch pages he keeps inside his mail truck.

St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times)
The search for Sandra

When his girlfriend of five years disappeared a year ago, Earl C. Pippin III chopped wood to ease his anxiety. A year later, he won't talk about it - not even to say who his lawyer is. Sandra Hamby Prince, a successful Tampa social worker and co-founder of a well-known drug treatment program, vanished around New Year's Eve 2005. Police found the back door of her Temple Terrace home unlocked, her purse missing and her blood inside the trunk of her car. Her cell phone, almost always on...

St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times)
July 14, 2006
Bad day for a bank robbery

The bank robbers had a getaway car, a creative disguise and a fake gun. What they didn't count on was the big blue recycling truck, the 5-pound rolling pin, the smoking money and the flat tire.o, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery. More video reports The robbers had a fake gun.

St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times)
World and nation: Only the sound of home remains

The cicadas are still singing. When night falls and the city grows quiet and even more uncertain, when the people who are left here retreat to their porches and floors with flashlights and guns - too nervous to leave, too heartbroken to sleep - the cicadas hum their raspy declaration.

From my short-lived mommy blog: Life with Aida

Life With Aida
I didn't know

Hours after Aida was born, I rose from my hospital bed, put two feet on the ground and then felt the entire contents of my bladder empty onto the hard floor below. I had no idea this could happen. None. But when I mentioned the experience to other mothers, no one seemed surprised.

Life With Aida
Dear Aida, About next week...

My sweet Aida, I hope you don't mind that we rocked a little longer than usual tonight. These days and nights, I want to memorize every second I have with you. Your tiny body, warm against my chest. Your furry head, nestled perfectly against my neck.

Life With Aida
Welcome to New Orleans. You sure you wanna live here?

Most of our framed photos are out of the bubble wrap now and propped against a wall in the study. A few half-opened boxes still litter the two-bedroom, two-bath shotgun double we now call home. When we arrived at this new house in New Orleans, some of the city was still without power following Hurricane Isaac.

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