Cailin O’Brien looks over past newspaper issues. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)
JONESBORO — Cailin O’Brien knew at an early age she wanted to write but it wasn’t until high school that she discovered a career that would pay her to indulge that passion.
“When I was a freshman, I went to journalism camp at Penn State because I thought I wanted to go to college there,” said O’Brien. “I realized I loved deadlines and being stressed out with everyone else. From then on, I wanted to be a journalist.”
She also decided on University of Georgia because of its prestigious journalism school and storied newspaper, The Red and Black.
“I worked at the paper from my sophomore year to graduation,” she said. “I love news so it wasn’t a hard decision for me.”
The oldest of three children, O’Brien, 22, lives with her parents in Peachtree City. The family moved to Fayette County from their Pennsylvania roots and “big Irish Catholic” clan when she was in third grade. Her father is in sales and her mother runs a successful dog-walking business.
O’Brien was newly-graduated from UGA when she was hired a few weeks ago as a government reporter for Clayton News Daily. She will also be working as a general assignment reporter for Henry Daily Herald.
Editor Jim Zachary said O’Brien is a welcome addition to both newspapers.
“We are really happy to have Cailin as part of our news team,” he said. “She is a very promising young journalist who has a real passion for community journalism while holding public officials accountable.”
O’Brien said she is coming into her first post-graduation newspaper job with an open mind.
“I’m not here to be a scary, intimidating journalist,” she said. “I’m here to work for the community. I like how close-knit communities are. I want to help people and elected officials but I also want to help call those people out who need it. And I want to praise people who need to be praised.”
Growing up in the Southern Crescent, O’Brien is somewhat familiar with Henry and Clayton counties. She was excited that one of her first assignments was covering Gov. Deal’s announcement of 1,200 new jobs coming to Clayton County.
O’Brien also updated readers on the progress the City of Forest Park is making with Gillem — a planned commercial and industrial development expected to bring in hundreds of new jobs.
“I know that Clayton County has been economically depressed but the sense I got is the focus is getting new jobs,” she said. “The opportunity for economic growth is very exciting.”
Her perception of Henry County is that the economy is in a “comfortable place.”
“I believe there is room for even more economic growth, though,” said O’Brien. “I’ll be ready to look for my own place to live in a few years and there are lots of prospects out there in either county. I love the small-town feel in the cities in both counties.”
She has already covered several government meetings and has been pleased with the reception.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how friendly the elected officials have been,” O’Brien said.
Readers can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling or texting her at 770-634-8712.
“I’m very excited to say the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald are my first jobs after graduation,” she said. “This is an amazing first job and amazing communities to start my career in. I’m optimistic.”