Just Your Average Neighborhood Beat

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

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.