Q. Name the legendary Daily Herald journalist who contributed to these sections of Friday's print editions: News, Neighbor and Time out!
A. It's intern Katlyn Smith.
Perhaps Katlyn isn't legendary just yet, but she's certainly making her mark, immersing herself in the type of community journalism we pride ourselves on. Since she started with us in late October, Katlyn, a Notre Dame journalism grad who lives in Wheaton, has previewed plays and festivals, written about a Glen Ellyn veteran who was at Pearl Harbor, interviewed Regis Philbin when he appeared in Naperville. She covered a Blue Ribbon ceremony at a Bensenville school and a rally for the Benet Academy state volleyball champs and was at Chicago Premium Outlets at 6 a.m. talking to Black Friday shoppers.
But Katlyn really hit her stride in Friday's editions. For the front news section, she reported that the agony of lane reductions at Naperville Road at Butterfield Road was about to end for the winter. Our Neighbor section featured two Katlyn bylines. She found Katie Heuer, 33 and a tuba player since age 11, as the person to use to open her story about the annual Tuba Christmas concert in Naperville today. Katlyn also contributed an interview with the Warrenville choreographer of a production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" in St. Charles. That's not all. I put out a call to the DuPage County staff for voluntary contributions to our Time out! entertainment section on favorite holiday viewing delights. Katlyn responded with a vignette on why "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" is on her must-see list every holiday season.
"I think Katlyn has demonstrated amazing versatility in her time here," says her boss, City Editor Bob Smith. "She's developed her own story ideas and run with those that she's been assigned. And she's done it all with a quiet professionalism, great productivity and an incredibly upbeat approach."
As we do with all interns, we started Katlyn slowly, with basic assignments that didn't have to be turned over on deadline. She handled these with aplomb. But it's also our philosophy to ratchet up the fun and deadline pressure as our interns show they can handle it. Still, I was a little nervous that maybe we'd thrown Katlyn into the frying pan a little too quickly when we assigned her to cover the nighttime appearance of "Reege" at North Central College. Katlyn was trying to get some advance one-on-one time with Philbin to run in a Q&A format, but I told her she also had to call in a story on deadline for the next day's paper. And she had to "localize" it. By that, I meant if all we did was cover what Regis had to say, it would be a generic celebrity story that could run in any publication in the country (and in this case that's not a good thing). So I suggested Katlyn find some local people, ask why they came to see Regis and so forth. Save the Q&A for the following day.
Not only did Katlyn localize her story, she opened it with a Naperville anecdote from the Reege himself. And, she found the time to write up her Q&A with Philbin for the next day. That story is one of Katlyn's favorites in her short career with us. "(Philbin) has a knack for making daily life fun," Katlyn said.
That's reflective, too, of what she loves about journalism, which she's pursued since working for the school paper at St. Francis High School in Wheaton.
"Every day is different," she says. "You don't know who you're going to talk to . . . I value the chance to learn something."