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If you could cover a non-sports beat ...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Dick Whitman, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    We've probably had some variation on this thread before - though I think that sports was always included - but I'm interested in rehashing it now that we're in the home stretch of a presidential election. The inquiry is also spurred by talk of Nate Silver on some other threads and how he kind of went out and invented his own beat where one didn't exist to his satisfaction.

    So what would you love to cover? National politics? Crime enterprise? The Supreme Court? The Middle East?

    Personally, although I would have answered national politics in the past, I think I'd love to cover Wall Street. Now, that's a pretty general answer - hell, there's an entire daily newspaper devoted to that wide topic, with dozens and dozens of sub-beats. But as a whole, the financial sector seems to be something that: (1) Very few people really understand; (2) But is extremely, extremely important; (3) Is in dire need of reporters who can break it down for the masses; (4) Lends itself to investigative work; (5) Has great narratives, with heroes and villains and everything in between.

    What would you choose? Feel free to be creative.
  2. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    In college, I spent a semester as lead police/emergencies reporter and editor. It was great fun, though part of that was because I could hand off the shitty stories to the second and third reporters. I wrote about arson and murder and did a long interview with a student who had been robbed at gunpoint. It was beat-work without grunt-work, so it probably shouldn't count, but I enjoyed it and it made me a much better writer and reporter.
  3. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I've always found it a little odd that cops and education are considered "starter beats" in newsrooms.
  4. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    Assuming I had the talent to do it well, I'd like to be a movie reviewer for a decent-sized metro paper or established website.
  5. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    I spent most of the 1990s covering "news beats" (and always helping/moonlighting in sports), and by far, the stories I most enjoyed researching and writing involved environmental issues.

    Besides the importance of the environment and its relationship to the economy, the thing that stood out was how these issues are never as black-and-white as lobbyists, politicians, etc. portray them. People who many view as "bad guys" have valid reasons for doing what they do.

    I spent two-plus years covering a proposal to burn shredded scrap tires at a co-gen power plant, and there were great arguments on both sides.

    Environmental issues are very tough to resolve, and that's why they make for great reporting.
  6. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    Agriculture -- where we get our food from, what goes into it, the business of getting it from farm to fork, the potential for a global shortage ... all of these topics and more are going to be HUGE areas of interest in the very near future.

    It's a beat -- one of very few -- that directly affects every person.
  7. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    Food. Many opportunities for good stories on a local or statewide basis, and could on occasion be tied into Reformed's Agriculture beat.
  8. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    I always thought I'd love to have been an education writer, or, even more, a science/medical writer. Among people in journalism who filled this niche, I was always envious of K.C. Cole of the Los Angeles Times.

    There's so much interesting, cutting-edge, unknown stuff out there to be reported on, broken down, demystified, wondered about, explained and analyzed, and that's the kind of writing I always liked to do, even while I was in sports.
  9. slc10

    slc10 Member

    I would not have objected to either education or general assignment beat many moons ago. Covering local government would have been another I would have considered.
  10. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    Gossip columnist in a major metro. Pay off the bell hops and bartenders for info. Have an assistant who hits all the clubs for you. Get lots of tips from PR folks.

    Or - and this is sort of sports - cover climbing season at Mount Everest from base camp.
  11. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    You can write Nepali?
  12. Bradley Guire

    Bradley Guire Well-Known Member

    I never wanted to do sports in the first place, just kind of fell into it. I did get out after about five years and loved it.

    I covered crime and courts for about 18 months before my paper cut my throat. But I got to do so much more because I did my own enterprise stuff, and I got to branch out so not all of it was crime. I wrote about issues with the liquor license laws and a state Supreme Court case revolving around a change in the law. Did quite a few stories on that topic. I was about to start a series on broadband access in the sticks when I got axed. There's a big push for fiber optic in southern Idaho, lots of line being put in the ground this year.

    Because management cut the business editor (just a writer and someone to pick out the biz wire copy), I got to write a few business features, too. One of my better stories was a profile of a small-town woman who ran a video rental store for years and years. Decided to close up because she wanted to retire and couldn't compete with Netflix, Redbox, etc. Most of the national rental chains had closed in my area by the time I did the story. And the owner was a fantastic source. Didn't have to wade through corporate PR bullshit or anything, and it was a nice little story.

    I could never go back to sports after doing news.
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