Why the crime beat?

Now a college graduate, I am feverishly applying to jobs around the region and have been since this past winter. I am a multimedia journalist and will take on virtually any beat as long as it means investigative, enterprising, spot news, and multimedia storytelling. But if I would be so fortunate to be given the choice, I plan on becoming a solid crime beat reporter. In many of my recent job interviews, employers ask, “Why the interest in crime?” This one was tough to answer until I put some true thought into it. Here are a couple thoughts:

  • In the business of storytelling, crime/courts/cops stories are the best ones to tell. There is always a winner and a loser, a good guy and a bad guy. At times, there are even bad guys on both sides, but either way, it makes for an interesting picture to paint.
  • Crime and public safety stories are almost always of utmost importance to the news consumer. Residents want to know what’s going on around them. They want to know which areas are more dangerous than others. They want to know who has been shot, which building is up in flames and what sort of funding is going into each department, and how it is being used. For whatever reason, citizens want to stay in-the-know with these types of things. There is much concern with incidents that revolve around these topics and when people learn about such events/happenings, they can put a rest to their concern, or at least give them justification for their concern.
  • Breaking news can come from any beat, but none produces breaking news stories as often as the crime beat. As a untainted journalist fresh out of college, I am very drawn to the instant nature of our generation. Instantaneous information is readily available and getting on-board that fast-moving information train is an exciting experience. The crime beat’s breaking news nature keeps you on your toes and always looking for the next big scoop. In my mind, it’s part of a journalist’s passion. To be first one of the scene of a crime. To be the one “in the know.” To be the one to inform the public on the latest situation.
  • Sure, the beat is not entirely pleasant. Reporting on homicides and how someone was murdered isn’t something that screams flowers and butterflies. But it is hard-hitting information and important to know and when you’re doing your job, that’s all that matters. The beat writer can always cheer themselves up on their own time.

The majority of this post comes from some prior experience in the beat, but not enough to be giving “an expert opinion” on such a profession. But I hope to see myself in this position, and hopefully one day soon.

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