Biweekly Wrap-up: On the ice cream beat

by Emily McFarlan Miller

I never imagined myself as an education reporter.

In fact, I thought I’d be a religion reporter. In college, I freelanced pieces about Christianity and Islam on campus for the Washington Square News. But as newspaper staffs have shrunk across the country, I doubt there are many dedicated religion reporters left. And as our staff shrunk at The Courier-News, I bounced around to fill in gaps, first as a features reporter; then as “Readers’ Reporter,” editing our community pages and getting reader-submitted content into the paper; then reporting again, first covering the villages around Elgin, then just Carpentersville and its school district and now Carpentersville-area Community Unit School District 300, Elgin School District U46, Elgin Community College and all the private schools within those districts.

Education has turned out to be the perfect beat for me, the perfect combination of hard news and fun features, for which I get to spend hours out of my day in schools, playing with kids. Even better, it’s a beat in which people really are interested, always, because the kids we are educating are our future, and especially now under the spotlight of No Child Left Behind and popular documentaries like “Waiting for Superman.”

But summer is pretty slow on the schools beat. That’s how I end up on the gardening beat. Or, it seems like this week, the ice cream beat.

And so what do I find myself doing this summer in all that free time that comes from not working hours and hours of overtime during the week? Religion reporting. My freelance work really is picking up, what with articles for RELEVANT two weeks in a row and an upcoming post for… wait for it… Christianity Today’s her.meneutics blog. The irony.

Here are the other articles I’ve written over the past two weeks for Sun-Times Media:

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.