In days gone by, just about every neighborhood often seemed to have a regular police officer patrolling its “beat.”
That officer could and would respond to emergencies in other areas as well, just as police and fire safety crews regularly do today. But many police officers back in the day had a specific area for which he or she was responsible. The officer would also interact regularly with neighborhood residents — and, when they needed help, they knew whom to call.
You won’t find many officers walking a specific beat these days. Long-running staffing cutbacks, and advances in technology have forced departments in new directions, and that’s the case in most communities — and many fields other than law enforcement, too.
Many newspapers and other media outlets, including the Times, however, still very much have a “beat” coverage system in place. And that’s still what it’s called.
Who are the folks on our daily reporting “beats”?
Marjorie Nesin is our Gloucester beat reporter, responsible for covering news across the city, from the coming mayoral race to police news and word about what’s happening in our neighborhoods and schools. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
James Niedzinski is our town news reporter, serving as point person for Rockport, Essex and Manchester, and covering things from school news to major development stories, like the current controversies swirling around Long Beach and Conomo Point. He’s at email@example.com.
Sean Horgan covers our commercial fisheries and Gloucester waterfront beat, continuing the coverage of the late Richard Gaines while also focusing on a growing number of issues surrounding the Gloucester’s harbor and port. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gail McCarthy (email@example.com) is our regular arts, entertainment and news feature writer, while Joann Mackenzie (firstname.lastname@example.org) — who teams with Christina Parisi (email@example.com) in the role as our community news editors — also serves as a features writer on businesses and community topics.
Nick Curcuru (firstname.lastname@example.org) is our sports editor and primary sports writer, covering all the news from the playing fields, tracks, courts and rinks that are home to our Cape Ann high schools and other sports teams.
Now, some aspects of that beat structure — especially when it comes to city and town news coverage —might seem a bit territorial. After all, shouldn’t all reporters be able to cover just about anything on Cape Ann? Shouldn’t they have a working knowledge of issues in all of our communities?
The answer, of course, is yes — and the truth is, they do. So you may wonder, why still break it down into any beats at all? Why does your community’s newspaper do that?
Because while all of our reporters can respond to any story just about anywhere — and they have, especially when others are on vacation or tied up on another major story — it’s important to have a reporter responsible for keeping on top of each of our communities, each of these issues, and each of these fields; someone who instantly knows whom to call when news breaks within his or her focused area, and what a story might mean to the community.
And beyond that, it’s important for you to know whom to call or message here to let your beat reporter know about a news event or story tip.
Hear about news breaking in Gloucester? Contact Marjorie. A new development on the waterfront? Let Sean know about. Wondering about something going on in Rockport? Contact James. Have new info about an upcoming concert or arts event? By all means, contact Gail.
We often hear people lament the end of the era in which neighborhoods essentially had their own police officer walking the beat. But the beat system remains alive and well in today’s newsrooms – including here at the Times.
Why? Because it still works. As always, let me know what you think.
Questions? Comments? Is there an issue you’d like to see addressed in a future column? Contact Times Editor Ray Lamont at 978-283-7000, x3432, or at email@example.com.