What's Your Beat?
"Beat reporting, also known as specialized reporting, is a genre of journalism that can be described as the craft of in-depth reporting on a particular issue, sector, organization or institution over time." -- Wikipedia
I've been thinking a lot about beats, lately. Sometimes, when people ask me what I write about, I answer, "Culture," which is neither the total truth or a lie. Most of the time, people don't inquire after that. If they do, I give them a list: "Movies, books, art, that sort of thing."
Initially, my Forbes blog was called Pink Slipped and was based on my life as as freelancer after getting downsized. At a certain point, I rechristened it Sin Inc. and declared vice my beat. This twist was interesting and gave me an excuse to shoot large black guns (see: "A Girl and a .22"), but vice was a bit broad as a beat. I mean, look at Sin Stocks Report's "List of Sin Stocks." It includes GE, cash advance companies, and the prison business. Vice is a lot of territory.
One could argue that porn is my beat (see: "They Shoot Porn Stars, Don't They?"), which makes me an investigative journalist. On the other hand, I've done multiple projects that have gotten widespread attention (see: "The Letters Project") that are more along the lines of Adam Penenberg's description of me as a "modern-age Studs Terkel." At the same time, the fiction I've most enjoyed writing lately leans towards the intersection of sex and technology (see: "The Fetish Alphabet"), starring robots, the apocalypse, and alien women.
What's your beat?