I have thought a good bit, since becoming a dad and homeowner, about how my perspective on news has changed from my days as a young reporter. I chafed back then at covering the “intensely local.” Now I can’t get enough of it … I was reminded of this also when taking a walk around my neighborhood here in DC with the lieutenant for my police service area and one of his young beat cops. (I was part of an effort to organize a neighborhood walk/watch thing here.)
The young beat cop was a good guy … a kid from Indiana … but I could tell that he chafed at dealing with the sort of prosaic, “intensely local” policing that from *my* perspective as a homeowner here makes all the difference in the long run: moving along that drug addict peeing in my alley, looking into that broken out window, investigating the junked car on the corner that’s been sitting there forever, etc.
It struck me that the young beat cop was just like me as a young beat reporter … It was the same disconnect: Young guy, without any real personal stake or history in the neighborhood he is covering/patrolling, wants the “big story,” the big crime, when the people he’s serving want the prosaic stuff that affects them most directly ……
His lieutenant, btw, was the parallel of his editor: He understood the importance of the prosaic “local stuff” and pushed him. I remember walking down an alley with him and this young cop, and the lieutenant turned to him and said, “Officer X, have you ever walked this alley?”