Ironically enough, after I had just started my new Denver beat in mid-December, I ran into the chief of police of my former beat, Golden, which I covered for four-and-a-half years.
Busy holiday shoppers walked around us at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center but time seemed still for a moment as the chief and I stood there, trying to figure out if our eyes were playing a trick on us.
While the chief was spending one of his vacation days to enjoy Cherry Creek, he may have thought I was playing hooky from my responsibilities with the Golden Transcript. But I was actually out gathering interviews for the first story with my byline to be published in the Life on Capitol Hill newspaper.
The chief and I exchanged hellos, engaged in a few minutes of friendly chitchat, then he wished me luck in my new professional role and we went our separate ways.
When a reporter changes beats within a greater metropolitan area, places that seemed familiar or commonplace before are now viewed through a different lens.
The mural on Colfax Avenue — the one I’ve driven past probably thousands of times — is no longer just a cool painting on the side of a building. It sparks an entirely new curiosity.
I wonder who the artist is? What was the inspiration for this particular piece?
And once you’ve earned some experience in a new beat, you gain a sense of ownership. The small, quirky live-music venue was before just a fun place where my boyfriend’s band would play from time to time. Now, I’m invested in it because it’s in my new coverage area.
Changing beats is like moving to a new community after living in a nearby one for a number of years. It’s a little intimidating at first, and sure, I’ll have to plug every address into my GPS for a while. But I’ll eventually learn the best routes to get around the city and, of course, get to know the neighbors.
That’s when the fun starts.
Perhaps it’s a story about the barista at your favorite mom-and-pop coffee shop around the corner. Or the neighbor who spends all summer knitting to have enough warm, winterwear to donate to the nearby homeless shelter. Or the small business celebrating a milestone anniversary in the community.
I love local journalism for all the discoveries yet to be had. And I believe everybody has a story. So tell me yours. You can always find me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-566-4107.
I’m looking forward to hearing all your stories and then sharing them with your neighbors by means of the written word in Life on Capitol Hill.
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