All politics is local (journalism)

One of the many political opinions on display lately. Photo/Meg Heckman
One of the many political opinions on display lately. Photo/Meg Heckman

It’s been a decade since the bitter cold winter when I started covering politics. Plenty of Democrats wanted a chance to unseat President George W. Bush, so New Hampshire was bustling with candidates. It was a rare stump speech that  didn’t reference 9/11, and most voters I met knew at least one person stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Everyone who turned out to hear the potential challengers or, later, the president himself believed that this election would somehow make things better.

Sure, politics has plenty of problems. There’s too much money. Too much celebrity. Too much disconnect between the loud debates and the everyday lives of most Americans. But the political process is also beautiful. A campaign is a microcosm of a community: coalitions, networks, passions that bring people together and drive them apart. In the months before an election, voters become more public with their anger, their fears, their hopes. They display their opinions on lawns, on car bumpers and with pins on their lapels. Collectively, we consider who we are to ourselves and who we want to be in the eyes of the world.

And, as a journalist on the campaign trail, it was my job to find them at their coffee shops and their town halls, flip open my notebook and listen.

When I decided on the career shift that would eventually land me a teaching job at UNH, I assumed I was done covering politics. I was wrong. Which is awesome. Because I really missed it.

Since early June I’ve been filing dispatches from New Hampshire for the Boston Globe’s new political section, a visually stunning effort called Capital that appears Fridays in print and throughout the week online. (Here’s Poynter’s take on the project, and a look at the section’s design philosophy.) Capital was great when it launched, and it’s only gotten better since then.

As for my own contributions, I’ve written about the new proprietor of an old political landmark, the GOP’s quest for a perfect site for the 2016 Republican National Convention and Bob Smith’s return to politics after a 12 year hiatus.

Tonight, I’m heading out to work on another piece, and I’m looking forward to hearing what stories New Hampshire’s voters have to tell.

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