By Myckyal Hunt
My decision to pursue a career in journalism has always been fueled by one thing: I enjoy writing. I like taking my jumbled thoughts and observations, and putting them to paper. It helps clear my head and oftentimes prepares me to vocalize things that are important to me. What’s even better, is when I get write about what I enjoy.
Terry Richard of The Oregonian writes a beat for traveling enthusiasts. One of his more recent articles is one about wildlife on the Oregon Coast – Places of Refuge for the Wild Things of the Oregon Coast. It starts out with a little scene-setting, a must for travelers who would otherwise be unable to imagine a place they had never been. Richard describes so much in the first couple lines of the piece that as a reader I cannot help but want to go to wherever he’s talking about. The first thing I learned about beat writing from this man: Know your audience. Being immersed in a topic sometimes makes it difficult to decide what language to use and how much additional information to give out, it’s good to balance between readers who know the ins-and-outs of the beat and the ones who are maybe just getting started.
At the top of the page, Richard also incorporates a slideshow of different animals on the Oregon coast. I found this to be a great way to pull readers in. My first thought upon visiting the page, “Where can I go to see that?” The second lesson I learned about beats: Know how to draw a crowd. People who like to travel generally like to see new and exciting things, Richard definitely pays attention to that detail and it just adds to the piece.
The third and most important thing I noticed, and what Richard did a great job of, was to inform your readers about everything they need to know to travel and to have a good time without sounding like a boring instruction manual. He incorporated a lot of facts but made them sound more like a story than a fact-book. The wildlife refuge Richard discusses was created for Canada geese on the Oregon Coast