As Capitol correspondent for the Little Rock bureau of the Associated Press, Andrew DeMillo is responsible for covering Arkansas politics and state government. As the only AP reporter in the state, he is also responsible for covering any major breaking news stories that occur in Arkansas. 

 

“I honestly love getting to see history unfold, which is what happens every day in this job,” he said. “I get a chance to ask elected officials and politicians questions that most people will never get to and can find out what went on behind major decisions that affect people’s lives. It’s a great experience and an awesome responsibility.”

 

DeMillo joined the news business when he was in college at the University of Georgia, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and wrote for the student newspaper, The Red & Black

 

“I wasn’t a journalism major, so writing for The Red & Black was where I learned the ins and outs of reporting,” he said. “I covered my first breaking news, my first trial and even my first election at The Red & Black.

 

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He also interned for several newspapers while in college, including The Washington Post and The Seattle Times. He worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for three years before he joined the AP, where he has been Capitol correspondent for 18 years. 

 

“There really is no typical day, but I like to stay busy, so I’m on the phone, usually, throughout the day, interviewing or checking in with sources,” he said. “I usually work from home, but I have a desk in the press room at the state Capitol that I work from during legislative sessions or when there’s big news there.”

 

He is also part of a team of AP reporters who write about the impact of legislation from across the country on the LGBTQ community. He said one of the best things about working for the AP is being able to work with some of the most talented journalists in the country. That has been the case while working on the LGBTQ legislation coverage, he added, especially while examining the impact of a wave of new restrictions that affect transgender youth.

 

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Photo Credit: Dale Ellis

 

One of his toughest assignments was covering multiple executions in Arkansas in 2017, he said, adding that he spent many late nights following developments in the legal fights over the executions, and he was a media witness to one of the executions.

 

“On a lighter note, one of my most memorable stories was when I first started with the AP and I went to Gillett to cover the Coon Supper, the annual fundraiser that’s become a required stop on the campaign trail for political candidates,” he said, “and yes, I did eat some racoon.”

 

His work has been recognized by the Arkansas Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, which named DeMillo Diamond Journalist of the Year during the 2023 Diamond Awards and awarded him for his coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2021 awards.

 

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that people are hungry for quality, objective journalism about the world around them,” he said. “Throughout the pandemic, I got so many calls from all kinds of people telling me questions they needed to hear answered during [Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s] live-streamed news briefings. There’s so much clutter and misinformation out there, and I’m proud to work for a news organization that is able to cut through all of it on so many fronts.”

 

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His advice to up-and-coming journalists, he said, is to “write like hell.”

 

“Every story you work on is a learning experience, and every reporter and editor you work [with] can teach you something,” he said, “and when you start this career, take care of yourself above all else. No story is more important than your physical or mental health.”

 

Several years ago, he was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, a rare neurological condition that causes severe facial pain that is triggered by eating, talking and touch.

 

“I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able to keep the pain mostly under control through medication, but I still have flare-ups, including a recent one that was even triggered when I went for a run,” he said. “When my flare-ups occur, talking can be difficult and sometimes impossible. It’s a challenge that has taught me to listen to my body and know when I need to avoid pushing myself too hard.”

 

He said he hopes to continue learning and finding ways to work outside his comfort zone as he continues his journalism career.

 

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“In recent years, that has meant shooting my own photos or videos for AP and occasionally appearing on camera, which is a frightening prospect for a print guy like me,” he said. “I’ve also appreciated the opportunity to work with those just starting out in journalism. I enjoy being able to offer advice to them, but my work benefits from their energy and perspective, as well.”

 

DeMillo said he enjoys running and described himself as a “huge bookworm” with a taste for political history and presidential biographies. He added that he writes book reviews for the AP, which has added to the stacks of books around his house.

 

He met his wife of 18 years at The Red & Black and worked with her at The Democrat-Gazette. He said it is no surprise that their 10-year-old son likes to ask a lot of questions.

 

“I had never been to Arkansas until I interviewed for a job here, and I felt at home pretty quickly,” DeMillo said. “I remain in awe of how welcoming people have been over the years and even put up with my cheering for the Georgia Bulldogs.”

 

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