I had covered Ronald Reagan for eight years when my bosses transferred me to Capitol Hill. I was devastated, but changing my beat turned out to be the best decision anyone ever made for me. In contrast to the controlled environment at the White House, Congress was chaotic—reality TV for political junkies—with 535 eager sources. The new assignment prepared me for later adventures, when I traveled the world for NBC and found myself flying to Port-au-Prince or Hanoi without the resources (or the constraints) of the White House media machine. After being stuck in a narrower ambition—to cover the White House beat, with its special prestige—I was free to realize a greater one. Instead of being trapped in photo opportunities, I was able to tell stories about the way people really live their lives. I became the reporter I was trained to be, trailing a lead no matter where it takes me.