#MediaMonday – Fred Mayson
Today’s #MediaMonday feature comes to us from Fred Mayson, a general assignment reporter for Mohave Valley Daily News and two other regional papers from News West Publishing, the Laughlin Nevada Times and Needles Desert Star.
Fred, what’s your story?
Where did you grow up?
My family moved often, so I grew up all over the Southwest! I’m originally from Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and also spent significant parts of my childhood in Durango, Colo. and Big Bear Lake, Calif. Bouncing between the desert to snow-covered mountains and back again wasn’t always the easiest way to grow up — but I can’t deny I encountered more ideas, people and places than I would have otherwise.
How did you get your start in writing? Tell us your story!
I’ve always had an affinity for storytelling: when I was younger, I quickly figured out it’s better to write my stories down rather than regale them to whomever happened to be nearby (usually my mother, much to her annoyance). I bought a journal from the book fair in second grade and never put a pen down since.
After high school, I wanted a career in the justice system and originally went to college after a professor explained how important writing and communication skills are in that field. I graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University with a B.A. in English and later earned my Juris Doctor from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.
I started thinking about journalism during law school. If you don’t know anything about law, there’s a lot of writing — motions, briefs, client letters, etc. Research and client communication are also critical skills in the legal field, not to mention easily transferable to the communications/media industry. While I liked legal research and legal writing, practicing law itself wasn’t my cup of tea. I became an editor on the Law Journal for Social Justice and spent a semester with my college’s First Amendment Clinic (which included representing a newspaper in federal court as a certified student attorney). While looking for work after taking the bar exam, I met the editor-in-chief at the Mohave Valley Daily News and the rest is history. Haven’t looked back since!
Tell us about your outlet and beat. What types of pitches are you looking for?
I’m a general assignment reporter, so technically I take anything and everything. Nonetheless, my beat is focused on the local school districts and fine arts within our region (Bullhead City, Fort Mohave and Mohave Valley in Arizona and Laughlin, Nev.). I also take care of the crime blotter, city council coverage and weekly movie review column. Our company, News West Publishing, publishes three small regional newspapers: Mohave Valley Daily News, Laughlin Nevada Times and Needles Desert Star. I write stories for all three papers, with my primary focus being on the Daily News.
Regardless of if it’s my preferred beat, being able to localize a story to our area is the most important part of a pitch. Too often someone sends editorial a promising lead, only to find out it’s about happening in Phoenix or Las Vegas (or somewhere even further away).
What are your favorite stories to work on?
I like to highlight the community interest stories and local events. It often feels like Mohave County is ignored by other parts of the state when there’s actually a vibrant community worth recording for prosperity. I also enjoy anything involving environmental or water law — I suppose there’s some parts of my legal education I’ll never be able to shake.
What are some of your hobbies?
I’m one of those weirdos who takes a break from writing by writing some more. Specifically, taking a break from writing on a screen to writing by hand. My bedroom (and bookshelves) are filled with half-filled journals containing creative fiction, Dungeons and Dragons campaign ideas, actual journaling and research notes (both for work and for fun). I also like to play with my cats and read, usually nonfiction or classic novels.
Favorite movie? TV show? Book?
My favorite book is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. Berendt’s unique blend of interesting characters and Savannah locales into a true crime story makes for a fascinating read. I have three favorite movies: Millennium Actress (2001), Chinatown (1974) and City of God (2002). In general, I lean towards film noir, historical costume dramas and arthouse-type films. I’m not a television person, though I do like throwing cozy mysteries on in the background when I write, like Columbo or Murder, She Wrote.
Do you have any favorite local spots?
The Davis Dam Overlook, which is part of the Heritage Trail system just north of Laughlin, Nev., has one of the best views of the Colorado River and Lake Mohave. The entire trail system, which stretches both sides of the river, is worth hiking at least once.
What is the best way to reach you?
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.