On Thursday, April 13, Katie Reilly ‘11 was back on campus as part of the 50 Years of Women at Govs celebration. Reilly is a journalist who attended the University of North Carolina as a Moorehead-Cain Scholar and served as managing editor of the Daily Tar Heel. She has covered general news for Reuters, state politics for the Raleigh News & Observer, social trends for Pew Research Center, and national news and education for TIME.
The school gathered in the Bergmann Theater this morning to hear Reilly speak during Convocation. Reilly described the news industry to students and talked about how she began her career in journalism. She spoke about her writing process and the important role journalism plays in informing communities. She offered students advice that can be applied to a career in journalism as well as life generally:
1. Approach things with a healthy dose of skepticism
2. Lean into your curiosity
3. Don’t be afraid to ask a “dumb” question
4. Your career will have ups and downs
5. Seek out examples of progress
At Governor’s, Reilly wrote for The Governor, our school newspaper, and that experience served as a great introduction to journalism for her. She learned an early lesson in reaching out to people to have conversations that otherwise might be off limits when she contacted Paul Harding, author of Tinkers, a Pulitzer Prize–winning and New York Times–bestselling novel, which she read in her English class. She encouraged students to use their “student passport” to access information like she did.
Reilly had quite a few notable stories, including many cover stories, during her tenure with TIME. She told students about her first cover story with the magazine, which covered the public school teacher strikes in 2018 and featured three different covers.
Reilly's more recent cover story may be familiar to you—“The Lost Year- How the Pandemic Changed a Generation of Students” was published in March of 2021. Reilly enjoys writing about and giving a national platform to issues related to education with the hope of inspiring people to act.
Reilly shared statistics of women in journalism, highlighting that 40% of journalists are women but that a mere 23% of top editors at outlets are women. English teacher Tom Robertson P’16,’20,’24 led a discussion with Reilly and encouraged students and faculty to ask her questions including how she thinks the news industry will change in the future. Reilly noted the rise in misinformation and artificial intelligence among issues that the journalism world will need to continue to tackle, especially given the prevalence of misinformation on social media.
When Robertson asked Reilly which story she is most proud of, she said it was her story on the childcare crisis in America. The piece, entitled “At What Cost? The Brutal Math of Caring for Children in America,” was a feature piece in TIME and had an accompanying photo exhibition at the Fotografiska New York museum.
Following Convocation, Reilly held two interactive workshops for students in Frost Library. The workshops began with a lesson on the type of ledes used in journalism, and then she gave students a mock scenario of an extreme weather event taking place in Byfield and explained how a press conference would work. Three students volunteered to act as representatives from the mayor’s office while the rest of the students posed as journalists, asking questions during the mock press conference. Students posing as the mayor’s office huddled with Reilly to learn about how they would present facts to the public at the press conference. After the press conference, students were asked to write their own ledes based on the facts laid out by the mayor’s office in the press conference.
To learn more about the 50 Years of Women celebration, click here.
To learn more about Katie Reilly ‘11, click here.