I love that in journalism we use the term “beats” to describe when a reporter focuses on a particular issue.  “Beat” makes you think about music; it’s the steady pulse, the element that makes you clap along to it. The word can also evoke the heart. Each heartbeat is a measurement of life.

Both those definitions speak to things fundamental to the entity they’re in service of. In the same way, a reporting beat can help journalists do their most fundamental work: educate and inform. Yet it also allows them to deepen its impact. By mining a subject over time, reporters gain expertise, insight and sources to tell stories with a more authoritative perspective. They can gain the trust of readers who recognize that steady interest and the fruit it bears. And at MLK50, where we’re driven to make a meaningful, tangible difference in our readers’ lives, beats compound the strength of our small but mighty team. 

That’s why we’re happy to announce that our staff of reporters have officially transitioned to beats they are passionate about.

Carrington J. Tatum’s beat is environmental justice. This was a no-brainer; his award-winning coverage of the Byhalia pipeline battle proved his deep desire to not only inform our readers but help steer the conversation in the ways we consider the natural world. “I want my reporting to expose environmental injustice, elevate the voices of Black and brown communities who live with its consequences and empower them with information to pursue equity,” he says. The EJ beat looks at the things we often take for granted: the air we breathe, the water we drink, the ground we walk on.  And that’s why Carrington thinks it’s a vital topic to explore. Send him ideas and tips at carrington.tatum@mlk50.com

Jacob Steimer will cover housing and development, which means he’ll write stories that deal with the concerns of renters, homeowners, homebuyers and the unhoused. “I’ve long been frustrated by the way housing policy has been used to help people already at the top,” Jacob says. “The housing beat is also intertwined with many of my favorite subjects — economics, education and government policy.” You’ve probably read his story about rising rents in Memphis and another exploring the $30 million investment in South City. Jacob will keep mining these stories, always with Dr. King’s legacy and commitment to fair housing in mind. Tell him your housing stories at jacob.steimer@mlk50.com

Hannah Grabenstein’s focus turns to labor and work and equity in health. Hannah has already shown her skill in telling stories around health inequity, and she didn’t want to let that go. The labor and work part is expanded on work she’s done too; this year, more than ever, MLK50 is committed to telling stories about workers, what they do, and how they live. After all, that’s part of the DNA of how MLK50 came to be. “This is an incredibly exciting time for labor, which I suspect is going to undergo some major shifts,” Hannah says. “It’s possible we’re seeing one of the largest changes in favor of the worker since the Great Depression. Which is interesting!” Tell Hannah what you think would be interesting to read at hannah.grabenstein@mlk50.com