Just Your Average Neighborhood Beat

I promised you in my last post that I’d explain how my passion for journalism started, so here goes:

I’ve always wanted to tell stories. As a child, most of my friends played hide-and-go-seek. I read Harriet the Spy. Inspired by Harriet, I would walk around the neighborhood with my Lisa Frank notebook and ask my neighbors if they had any news to share. As an 11-year-old, this was my idea of spying. Intrigued by my inquisitiveness (and the binoculars I wore around my neck) my 74-year-old neighbor, Mrs. Irish, would update me on her children’s lives. Mr. and Mrs. Graham always filled me in on how many cars had sped down the street. Mr. Moore updated me on Esmerelda, the stray cat that often brought mice to his doorstep. Though not exactly breaking news, their stories gave me the opportunity to do what I loved: write and report. My neighborhood was my beat, the place where I searched for people and ideas, the place where I realized how many stories are left untold.

Now, 15 years later, I’m still a little write-a-holic, but my beat is St. Pete. Actually, my beat while writing for Poynter Online is more so the journalism industry. Sounds like a big “beat,” but basically I’m writing/editing articles meant to serve as resources for journalists. I prefer to say that I now “investigate” stories and “people watch” rather than “spy” like Harriet, but really, it all comes down to being curious and desiring to reveal what’s true.

How did you get started in journalism or whatever profession you’re in? C’mon, I know you must have some stories to share. Enlighten us.

Published by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Mallary is a mom of two young kiddos -- Madelyn and Tucker. Mallary absolutely loves being a mom and often writes about the need to find harmony when juggling motherhood and work. Mallary is the Assistant Director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, where she manages the Center's various programs related to distance learning, freedom of expression, and digital journalism. Previously, she was Executive Director of Images & Voices of Hope and Managing Editor of The Poynter Institute’s media news site, Poynter.org. Mallary grew up outside of Boston and graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island. In 2015, she received a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. She now lives in beautiful Austin, Texas, with her kids, husband Troy and cat Clara. She's working on a memoir, slowly but surely. You can reach her at mjtenore@gmail.com.

2 thoughts on “Just Your Average Neighborhood Beat

  1. Mallary, I can just picture you walking around at age 11 with a notebook. Actually, I can’t picture you without a notebook in hand, ready to write. I hope you’re finding some great stories in “St. Pete.”

    I remember what inspired me to get involved with journalism: My second grade creative writing class, where I wrote an absolutely stunning piece of work called “The Great Bank Robbery.” Now, mind you, this was fictional, but it made me wonder what kinds of real-life bank robberies were going on that I didn’t know about. For years, I proclaimed I wanted to be a writer, and until junior year of high school I was apprehensive about writing as a career because I felt I had nothing to write about. A high school teacher tole me I was “awful at expressing myself in writing” during my junior year. She apparently was unimpressed with my Spanish short story about a butterfly with human characteristics, which I now recognize was a bit out there. But she had no right to tell me I had no hope of ever being published. She apologized for being blunt but said someone needed to tell me this. I got mad, but it was just the push I needed. I applied for an internship at the Milford Daily News, secured it, and was published within a month. I had finally found my stories, my subject matter: In the people around me and in the community I called home. I often wonder if she reads my weekly newspaper columns now, which are published in 12 newspapers across Massachusetts and Connecticut.

    I’ve had many discouraging moments in my short career as a writer, but the important thing to remember, I think, is to let those moments serve as a catalyst for change–not in who I am as a person or a writer, but to move onward and upward to places where I can learn more about the craft and expressing myself through writing.

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