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does "give him a clear beat" mean "smith beat Bell"?

Of the driver's five passengers, Kilduff, Baskin, and Clark of ABC could do nothing until the car stopped. Smith and Jack Bell of AP were a different breed. They were wire service reporters; they dealt in seconds. Smith's seniority had given him a clear beat, the greatest in his career, and the longer he could keep Bell out of touch with an AP operator, the longer that lead would be. So he continued to talk. He dictated one take, two takes, three, four.

For learning: English
Base language: English
Category: Language



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    Best Answer - Chosen by the Asker
    "a beat" is a reporter slang for their territory. For example a reporter might be in charge of news from the White House for his news organization. In this case it may be that because he has a certain area covered not by many other reporters. So the longer he can keep the other reporter (Bell) from contacting the AP the greater the chance of him reporting the news first.

    I think 'beat' here is similar in meaning to a police officer's beat, or his area to patrol. Because Smith is a senior reporter, he has the right to this 'beat' or story. The other reporters know its his story.

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