Skaggs, Katelyn Mary 2018 - Copy mug web.jpg

Leader Publications reporter Katelyn Mary Skaggs has been named the Missouri Press Association’s 2020 William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist.

“The Missouri Press Association congratulates Katelyn Mary for her excellent news reporting and community engagement in every assignment she is given,” said Trevor Vernon, MPA president.

Skaggs, 23, of Festus will receive her award Sept. 26 in Jefferson City during MPA’s 154th annual Convention and Trade Show awards luncheon.

Each year, Missouri newspaper editors or publishers submit nominations for the award, which aims to promote quality journalism by recognizing and nurturing talent among young journalists. Recipients of the statewide honor must be younger than 30.

“I was shocked to learn I had won the Outstanding Young Journalist award,” Skaggs said. “I never imagined I would win such a prestigious award so early in my career. I never imagined I would win any awards this early in my career.”

Leader assistant publisher Peggy Scott said Skaggs exemplifies the kind of young journalist the profession needs to encourage.

“When Katelyn Mary joined our staff of seasoned journalists, she jumped right in with ideas about how we can use new techniques and technology to improve what we do,” Scott said. “At the same time, she’s been eager and receptive to learning from co-workers who have many, many years of journalism experience.”

Skaggs said her on-the-job training has been valuable.

“I have learned a lot in the past year from my talented coworkers and look forward to learning even more,” she said. 

Skaggs joined the Leader staff in January 2019, a couple of weeks after her college graduation from Southeast Missouri State University.

Leader editor Peggy Bess said Skaggs proved herself as an intern in 2018.

“We quickly realized Katelyn Mary would make a wonderful addition to our team,” Bess said.

“In the months since, we’ve been so pleased with our first-ever conversion of a promising intern into a staff writer,” Bess said. “As a bonus, Katelyn Mary also brings skills in photography, graphics and technology.”

Skaggs grew up in House Springs and is the daughter of Keith and Suzanne Skaggs.

“I have really enjoyed covering my hometown community and providing important news to the community,” Skaggs said. “I also enjoyed reporting news you won’t find anywhere else, like coverage of local parades and events.” 

Skaggs is the primary reporter for the Eureka Leader and the West Side Leader. She also covers the Jefferson County Health Department and has been following the local impact of the

COVID-19 crisis.

She also took over the newspaper company’s inactive Instagram account and turned it into a vibrant social media community for readers. She established a tone, set and smashed goals, and continues to remind her coworkers to include social media in the daily workflow.

During her college years, Skaggs was news editor of the Arrow, Southeast Missouri State University’s campus newspaper, and worked at KRCU, a public radio station on the university campus.

Missouri Press Association President Vernon said this is the 12th year for the award. This is the eighth year the award has been given in honor of the late William E. James, a newspaper publisher.