Much like nature, The Evening Sun newsroom abhors a vacuum.
I’ve seen it happen a hundred times (OK, more like half a hundred times, but I’ve long since stopped counting) – every time an Evening Sun staff writer announces his or her impending departure, the remaining reporters start circling that beat like vultures.
“Beat,” for the uninitiated, is journalism lingo for a reporter’s assigned coverage area. In our newsroom, we divide beats in two ways – topical and geographical. Each reporter has a series of subjects or jurisdictions from which they draw their stories on a weekly basis, as well as a number of Chenango County towns for which they are responsible. That’s not to say that there isn’t overlap; in fact I’m most content when my entire staff is well-versed in every beat, able to handle any story at any time. But for purposes of organization and developing expertise, I assign each reporter a “beat” as soon as they get started here.
Some beats are more coveted than others, and some become more coveted as time wears on and a reporter’s interests change or emerge. That’s why when someone says they’re leaving, invariably moments later I get an email or a knock on my door ... “Can I take over ... ?”
So that’s what happened, of course, when Melissa Stagnaro left us recently. And it’s exactly what she did when Tyler Murphy left months before, and she latched on to the police/fire/court beat. As per custom, I take the reporters’ needs and desires into careful consideration and then put them exactly where I want them. Most times, they’re happy about that.
I think that’s the case with our current team, joined this week by our newest cub reporter, Shawn Magrath. In divvying up these assignments, it occurred to me that we don’t always share that information openly with the reading public, which is silly. Although you can figure it out pretty easily, you really should know who covers what in case you have a news tip or story idea you’d like to give to a reporter directly.
So, without further ado, I give you our current Evening Sun beat structure, in order of seniority:
Pat Newell: Yeah, like that one’s going to change. Pat’s been covering all things Sports expertly for over a decade and a half. No one’s rocking that boat. You can reach Pat at email@example.com, 337-3078, or follow him on Twitter ... @evesunpat.
Melissa deCordova: Doing what she does best, my longtime newsroom comrade covers the Chenango County Board of Supervisors, local politics, religion and the real biggie – natural gas drilling issues. Geographically, she’s responsible for the towns of Smyrna, Sherburne, Pharsalia and Plymouth. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 337-3076 or ... well, she doesn’t Tweet!
Brian Golden: New Guy became Old Guy in the newsroom pretty quickly, but Brian’s throwing his nearly two years of experience into the police/fire/court beat now, in addition to continuing his coverage of the Norwich City Schools and local entertainment. Geographically, he’s responsible for Lincklaen, Otselic, Pitcher and German. Reach him at email@example.com, 337-3080 or on Twitter ... @evesunbrian.
Julian Kappel: Having just joined us earlier this summer, Julian cut his teeth on the county beat, but now he’s our Small Towns beat reporter, concentrating his work on the news in Chenango’s non-Norwich communities – New Berlin (where he’s also responsible for our weekly newspaper, The Gazette), Oxford and Greene. Throw in a little Guilford, Coventry, Bainbridge and Afton for good measure and that’ll keep him busy covering small town life. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 337-3074 or follow him on Twitter ... @evesunjulian.
Shawn Magrath: Sometimes the new kid on the block gets stuck with the leftovers, newsroom-wise, but I think we’ve set up Shawn with a lot to sink his teeth into. He’ll be covering the City of Norwich, the Town of Norwich, and all things business-related in Chenango County. Geographically, he’s assigned to Norwich, North Norwich, McDonough, Preston and Smithville. Reach him at email@example.com, 337-3071 or follow him on Twitter ... @evesunshawn.
And me? Well I do everything else. The events column, letters to the editor, press releases, engagement and wedding announcements, 30 Seconds, the online edition, Facebook, obituaries, did I mention 30 Seconds?, and pretty much put together every page of the newspaper and assign reporters and photographers as needed. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org (or our general newsroom email, email@example.com), 337-3070 or follow me on Twitter ... @evesunjeff.