On a typical day, Cody Mello-Klein might cover a city council meeting and write about a new pizzeria in town. That’s life for an Alexandria Times reporter. About two years ago, the Sharon, Mass., native moved to Alexandria to work for the newspaper.
The 27-year-old Mello-Klein also freelances for video game news outlets. His work has appeared in IGN, Kataku and Game Informer. Mello-Klein also co-hosts the games podcast “Player Vs. All Radio” and hosts “Speak Easy: The Alexandria Times Podcast.”
Your bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University was in English and anthropology, but you made the switch to journalism for your master’s. So why the change?
I’ve always been interested in storytelling, both telling stories myself, but also hearing other people tell their stories. And I’ve come to learn that the combined knowledge base of English and anthropology is remarkably similar to journalism. And so I realized that journalism was probably the easiest way for me to apply those skills, but also the easiest way for me to get paid using those skills. And I just dove head on into the program at Northeastern.
What’s your experience been at the Alexandria Times?
It was the first job I got out of grad school and the first real full-time professional position I had at a media outlet. I’ve really enjoyed the ability to learn about pretty much every single aspect of Alexandria. We have a small staff. So I cover everything, sports, politics, business and the arts. I’ve gotten the opportunity to really learn so much about the city I’m living in. It’s really been a great learning opportunity. And it’s hopefully going to be a great launching pad for whatever I do next.
What’s something that’s surprised you about Alexandria?
My only real knowledge of Alexandria before coming here was the movie “Remember the Titans,” which I think is the case for a lot of people. And so that was my vision. And it’s also, I’ll admit, kind of like a bias coming from the North. You come down here and you come with these preconceived notions about what Virginia is, and I’ve come to find that, at least in the case of Alexandria in Northern Virginia, it is its own entity. I think I’ve heard some people refer to it as the People’s Republic of Northern Virginia because of how it differs so dramatically from the rest of the state politically. But the thing that surprised me most about Alexandria is just how much community spirit there is here. It bills itself, both in terms of its tourism, but also just people talking about it as like a small town with big-city problems. And that really is the case.
What drew you to video games?
The level of involvement and engagement people have with games is different than any other medium. Some people say it is more active. You are heavily involved in the narrative and experience of playing a game, and it’s true. Although I would say you can be just as actively involved in watching a movie. But yeah, games for me have become just a fascinating storytelling tool and have produced some of my favorite stories in the past few years. It’s also just an industry that I find fascinating because it’s largely still in its infancy. And so having been able to cover that as I have, in the limited capacity that I have, has been interesting.
How do you see yourself as a Jewish person?
[My father’s] relationship with Judaism has largely been cultural and not so much observant, but all of that informs how he sees the world. And that cultural understanding has been passed down to me. It’s impossible to grow up around someone like my grandmother [an Auschwitz survivor], talk with her about the things she’s endured and not internalize some of that, and internalize my understanding of my people.
So what’s the future for you?
My passion is for arts coverage. And so I’d love to move more into that and I’m attempting to build a body of work to represent that. Obviously, games will always be there for me. I don’t know if it’s a field that I want to move into full time. It’s certainly something I still want to continue working on and think about.