Paul Willistein is the editor of Focus, the Lehigh Valley Press print and web editions features section, for which he writes features, theater reviews and movie reviews, and takes photographs. He has been with the company since 2003.
Willistein’s fascination with newspaper journalism began at age 11 at the conclusion of a Cub Scout Troop field trip tour of the former Bethlehem Globe-Times when his name was spit out in a slug of metal type, in reverse. He’s still trying to figure out how that works.
Willistein was encouraged by his mother to become a journalist when she said, “You can really write,” following an article she read that he wrote for the Southern Lehigh High School Spotlight student newspaper.
At the Press, Willistein launched the Student Poetry Project, edits the High School Musicals Freddy Awards previews, and coordinates the Readers Pick the Oscar Winners contest.
He also reports on and takes photos for the Salisbury Township municipal meetings beat and Northampton Area School District Board of Education meetings.
He's received some 23 Keystone state journalism awards for reporting and editing; as well as received an Allentown Arts Commission 2009 Arts Ovation Award for his arts and entertainment journalism, a Society of Professional Journalists award and the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Foundation 2010 Reader Initiative Award.
Prior to working for the Press newspapers, Willistein worked for 22 years for The Morning Call, where his duties included features editor, arts editor and entertainment editor.
Before that, he worked for five years for the Bethlehem Globe-Times, where he was night editor, arts editor and news reporter.
At Southern Lehigh High School, he was editor of The Spotlight student newspaper, ran on the Cross Country team, had the lead role in the class play and played drums in the Spartan Marching Band.
Willistein is author of “Bethlehem Pilgrimage,” about the Bach Choir of Bethlehem 1976 Bicentennial concert tour of Berlin, Germany, and Leipzig, then East Germany; and “They All Came To See Me,” about Allentown native jazz entertainer and saxophone player Willie Restum.
He taught screenwriting and media studies at Northampton Community College and film studies at Muhlenberg College.
He was marketing and public relations director for two seasons at The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival.
He went to Syracuse University to study journalism, but majored in American Studies and film-making.
He is a songwriter, having co-written “Do The Dutch (Hey Now)” with Steve Brosky and Mike Krisukas. Two songs he wrote, “I’ll Find My Way Back to You” and “That’s What She Said,” are on Brosky’s “Still” CD (2016).
He has written, directed and produced documentary films, some of which have been telecast on public television stations, and narrative fiction films, some of which have been shown in film festivals.
He is an active member of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Allentown.