Isabelle Saunders, an 11-year-old journalist, covers Longmont’s ins and outs

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<p>(Photo: Courtesy of Amy Saunders)</p>
<p>Isabelle Saunders and her reporter&#039;s notebook. </p>
Photo: Isabelle Saunders
Isabelle Saunders and her reporter's notebook.

Isabelle Saunders has put in some long hours covering city meetings on deadline. As any journalist will tell you, late nights are just part of the job -- but she has to remember to finish her homework, too.

That's because the 11-year-old fifth grader at Flagstaff Academy is both reporter and editor for "Izzy's Eye on Longmont."

"My point," she says, "is to teach kids about Longmont."

So far, she's covered a City Council meeting, a city open house, and a forum on the future of the news business. She fields comments from her readers, too, and investigates their ideas to see if they're newsworthy. She's even bagged her first scoop, Karen Antonacci, a reporter for the Longmont Times-Call, admits. As Antonacci was hammering out a story for the newspaper, Saunders went live with a post about the same event.

"Sure enough there's already maybe like a 150-word post about what happened and she included a quote from a woman that I didn't include," Antonacci says. "So it's just interesting to see how she does it."

"It's been an exciting ride and there's a bit of pressure in journalism," says Amy Saunders, Isabelle's mom. "It feels that if she doesn't do it today, then she'll miss her opportunity to get the information out to the public. And so it's been a balance, for sure, but she enjoys it."

Isabelle Saunders spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner about her project. Read some highlights below, and click on the audio link above to hear the full interview.

On what Saunders considers newsworthy

"[I cover] local things that look interesting, like city council meetings, youth council, and open houses. Sometimes the people who comment on my blog... ask me a question about something that's happening in the town. So I research that and see how much information I can get on that. I would either do a reply to their comment or a whole blog post if I think it's very interesting."

On the future of journalism

"I do think that newspapers will be online in one to five years, but, according to the meeting that I went to on Tuesday night, it said that the news on the TV will stay longer. ... I'm sad about that because on Sundays and weekends my dad always will read the sports section of the newspaper. I'm sad if in one to five years he's on his phone scrolling up and down reading the sports section there."

On Longmont Mayor Dennis Coombs

"I've met him, but I've never written anything on him. Yes, I would like an interview because I think it would be interesting to hear what he thinks about it -- all these Longmont issues."