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Year in review: Life on the Post-Dispatch general assignment beat in 2019

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As 2019 draws to a close, our reporters reflect on the most memorable stories they covered this year. 

Life on the general assignment beat for the Post-Dispatch is like a sampler platter of news — you get it all. One day I cover a crime story that breaks my heart. The next I interview a man combing a mounted bobcat with a toothbrush at the world championships of taxidermy.

There were plenty of joyful moments this year, like the night the St. Louis Blues won the team’s first Stanley Cup. While our sports reporters covered the team in Boston, I wrote about the fans here who packed the Enterprise Center to watch a game more than 1,000 miles away. I had less than an hour to meet my print deadline after the game, so I typed on a laptop as I sat on the concrete steps outside the arena. A man waving a Stanley Cup made out of Budweiser cans drew a crowd behind me and “Gloria” blasted from every direction.

More recently, I found myself traipsing through a cow pasture in rural Missouri with a team of cosmochemists from Washington University in search of a piece of meteorite.  I also got tangled up in solving the mystery of the domino game pieces that have been embedded in St. Louis streets for years. One of those missions was successful, the other was not. 

The year also brought tougher topics. I worked with reporters Jesse Bogan and Nassim Benchaabane to delve into a list of priests the Archdiocese of St. Louis said faced accusations of sexual abuse. The reporting involved sensitive interviews with those affected and hours combing through thick church directories in a reading room at the Central Library.

The hardest story to tell, though, was about child homicides in St. Louis after 12 children were killed in homicides over the summer. I won't forget sitting on the front porch of the home where 7-year-old Aaron Harrington was shot by a stray bullet years ago and hearing his grandmother describe how the killing of a child can affect a family for years to come.

It was a full year, and I’m thankful to the subscribers of the Post-Dispatch who make it possible for me to report on this smorgasbord of stories from my city every day.

Erin Heffernan's memorable stories from 2019

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