Elisa DiStefano.

Elisa DiStefano. Credit: Siobhan

Elisa DiStefano, the veteran lifestyle and entertainment reporter for News 12 Long Island who left the station this month, is joining Newsday as a senior lifestyle host, Newsday Media Group announced Wednesday. Her first day is July 18.

DiStefano will contribute content to NewsdayTV, the company's video initiative that delivers content from journalists across digital platforms. She'll also join Faith Jessie as an anchor in Newsday's new state-of-the-art TV studios and host Newsday Live events.

DiStefano announced her departure from News 12 on June 24 after a 17-year run as morning show reporter.

In a phone interview, DiStefano said the new job "is going to give me the freedom to tell the stories that I love to tell, in different ways on different platforms. The opportunities there are endless for me to be creative and collaborative. Newsday's also given me the flexibility to be a mom first, and to be a journalist — and to get more sleep and family time."

A Hauppauge native and mother of two (ages 3 and 5), DiStefano lives in Point Lookout where she and her husband, Richard "Mo" Cassara — former Hofstra basketball coach, now CBS Sports college basketball analyst — run two restaurants. She joined News 12 in 2005 after a brief stint as a traffic reporter at WNYW/5, and there covered early morning traffic along other entertainment and lifestyle subjects. At NewsdayTV she'll add "a lot more human-interest stories, and a lot more on family, moms, and local business owners. I hope to make an even bigger footprint in the community that's been following me for so many years."

DiStefano's departure was the latest in a string of exits by senior anchors and reporters at News 12, including Jackie Lukas, sports reporter Jamie Stuart and longtime reporters Christine Insinga and Shari Einhorn. Lukas subsequently joined Catholic Faith Network in Uniondale, while both Stuart and Einhorn now contribute to NewsdayTV on a freelance basis.

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