One person CBS News believes can reach younger viewers in the Internet age is a 23-year-old Baton Rouge-born journalist named Kaylee Hartung.
Hoping to win viewers and advertising dollars with Webcasts, CBS launched Unplugged Under 40 in the spring—a series of 10-minute Webcasts focusing on people and issues that most affect 20- and 30-somethings.
The Webcasts originally were weekly, but CBS made the program daily over the summer, which is when it made Hartung a featured correspondent on the “Washington Unplugged” segment.
Hartung gets to meet young politicos, artists, and movers and shakers for casual conversations. She’s strolled around the White House interviewing President Obama’s 30-year-old Deputy Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, and she has ducked out onto a government rooftop while chatting with freshman U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois.
“It’s a great way to brand a segment that I could be a part of,” Hartung says. “It’s what every reporter wants: to know people depend on them.”
The thing is, she has to find time for her weekly interviews when she’s not doing her primary job: working as CBS Anchor Bob Schieffer’s assistant and associate producer for Face the Nation. For the past two years she has been arranging interviews and compiling research. Most notably, she was one of three assistants who prepared Schieffer for the last presidential debate at Hofstra University in October 2008.
“I’ve never been so proud to be part of anything as I was that night,” says Hartung, a 2003 graduate of Episcopal High School. “The lead-up was rigorous”—although not unlike the work she does weekly preparing Schieffer for Face the Nation on Sunday mornings.
Hartung’s leap from college to network news was swift, but not without some preparation. While double-majoring in journalism and politics at Washington and Lee University, she won a summer internship with NBC in New York City.
That internship, combined with Washington and Lee’s stellar network of alumni (several are big-time news bureau chiefs), helped her win her job interview with Schieffer.
“Bob described it to me this way—he said, ‘I want this to be a stepping-stone for you,’” Hartung says. “He loves helping young people succeed and getting their feet in the door. I consider myself extremely lucky.”
Visit cbsnews.com to check out Hartung’s weekly “Washington Unplugged” interviews.