Girl's journalistic effort impresses
Clean, clear writing is a joy to read. I've read a lot of writing by children and teen-agers over the years. Usually it's littered with errors and obviously dashed off at the last minute with little thought. So I was pleased to receive the following, written by 9-year-old Kaitlyn Krug of Janesville.
Kaitlyn had called my editor, said she was interested in journalism and wanted to interview a reporter. My editor chose me, for unknown reasons.
I invited her to The Gazette building in downtown Janesville and gave her a tour, along with her mother and home-school teacher, Whitney Krug; her twin sister Hannah; and brother Isaac, 3. To complete the family: The father is Steve Krug, associate pastor at River Hills Community Church.
“She completely initiated this idea of interviewing a reporter on her own, and I have been amazed with the results,” her mother wrote to me afterward.
After the tour, I sat with Kaitlyn in our conference room. She opened her laptop and asked me questions, just as a reporter does. Her mom helped by throwing a few questions at me.
I'm not the most exciting subject for an interview, but Kaitlyn persevered and accurately captured what I said. That sounds like a small thing, but as someone who does this all the time, I know it's not as easy as it sounds.
I asked Kaitlyn to send me what she wrote, and I received it a few days later. I shared it with my colleagues. Two editors responded:
-- “There's our star in the next generation of journalists. Thoughtful, observant, well-written.”
-- “Very impressive. I think she captured you and the job well.”
The following is what Kaitlyn wrote. I have not changed a thing.
Interview with Mr. Frank Schultz, The Janesville Gazette Reporter
It was quiet, people were working, and it had a sort of friendly air. This is what happened to me, when I interviewed Frank Schultz, Gazette Reporter. I found out that he has been working there for 24 years! He seems like a friendly, normal Janesville citizen. He enjoys riding his bicycle around town.
You might think his life is busy, and it is! His typical week is busy, but he only has to come in at eight or nine o'clock in the morning, because the paper publishes at midnight. The only time he has to work late is when he works nights. The reporters who work at night try to catch any last minute news that can still make it into the next day's newspaper. When I imagine Mr. Schultz working nights, I see him in the dark listening to the radio.
Now, having worked for 24 years makes one a pretty skilled writer. Nevertheless, the newspaper has plenty of editors whose job it is to catch any errors. They make sure that the words he puts in his articles don't have more than one meaning, so that people get the truth, not the assumed meaning. They also check his spelling.
Many things surprised me in my time at the Gazette, but what surprised me the most is that the office space of each reporter is small, and everyone has a cubicle-like desk area.
At the end of the interview, I asked him what he recommends to a person interested in journalism or writing. Here's what he said:
Mr. Schultz: We already covered reading. Read all kinds of things. Read things even if you're not interested in that subject. You need lots of curiosity, because this helps you think of better questions, and ways to ask them.
He answered two of my questions very interestingly. This is what they were:
Kaitlyn: What has your favorite experience been while working for the Gazette?
Mr. Schultz: What I like most is working with a funny, interesting group of people who like to discuss and consider all kinds of things.
Kaitlyn: Is there anything you don't like about your job?
Mr. Schultz: I don't like that I don't have enough time to do the research I like to do. I will finish a big project and see how many topics within the project that I could have spent more time on. It is fairly short writing. Sometimes I get to do big projects. I have to decide how much time to spend on each project, and there is a lot of pressure to meet the deadlines.
These, I think were very impressive answers. Mr. Schultz gave me the impression that he likes thinking, and likes having good relationships with other people. That is why I think that being a journalist would be a very busy, interesting life. That's why I want to be a journalist when I grow up.