Taylor Croft

As a kid, Taylor Croft loved getting lost in a Nancy Drew mystery. Little did she know that those stories would drive her passion for uncovering truth as a news reporter one day. 

“I was always super curious, asking a lot of questions, which are some natural qualities that go into being a journalist,” she said. 

Taylor started her journalism career as an intern at the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, part of the Cox family of businesses. That internship led to her dream job as a local government reporter covering Cobb County, one of the most populous counties in the state of Geogia. 

“I think a lot of things had to happen to get me where I am,” she said. “I really jumped up in my career pretty quickly, but I try to remind myself that I’ve also put in the work.” 

Here, Taylor chronicles her journey into the world of news reporting and how she achieved success so early in her career. 


A memorable first byline 

Journalism is a field where on-the-job experience is invaluable. Taylor’s professors urged her to look for opportunities to gain real-world experience and some bylines before graduating.

Her journey began at Fresh Take Georgia, a digital news service affiliated with the Center for Sustainable Journalism at Kennesaw State University. The center partners with news organizations, including the AJC, so that students like Taylor are given the chance to see their work published. 

That’s how Taylor found herself thrust into the spotlight, covering the 2021 MLB World Series as her first official reporting assignment. 

“I got to go to the World Series, and I talked with people and I did fan interviews — and that’s actually how I got my first byline,” she said. “My first byline was on the front page of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.” 


Stepping up as a beat reporter 

Taylor secured a spot in the AJC newsroom during the summer of 2022, courtesy of an internship she landed through the Atlanta Press Club.  

At the AJC, interns are paired up with a full-time staffer to show them the ropes and mentor them throughout their internship experience. Taylor was shadowing the reporter who covered Cobb County at the time. 

“I think the most critical part of the internship for me and my growth as a reporter has been mentorship,” she said. “I worked very closely with Brian Eason, and he really taught me a lot about the foundations of beat reporting.” 

A month into the internship, Taylor was tapped to temporarily cover the Cobb County beat while her mentor focused on a special investigative project: the American Dream for Rent series. 

“I hold true to the mentality of always saying ‘yes’ to opportunities, and if you have questions along the way, ask questions,” she said. “I was determined that I could rise to the challenge.” 

Alongside learning from seasoned reporters around her, Taylor has also counted on the support and guidance of her boss, senior editor Dan Klepal.  

“He also was super helpful in answering my many questions,” she said. “Over time, as I got more acquainted with the beat and got more acquainted with news reporting, those questions became less and less, and I was able to come into my own as a reporter.” 

Taylor also appreciates her boss for encouraging her to maintain a healthy work-life balance. 

“My boss has made it clear to ‘take the time I need so that I can come back and work, work hard and do great journalism,’” she said.

Taylor’s internship extended into the fall term while she continued filling in on the county beat. By December 2022, when her internship wrapped up, she was offered a full-time job as a local government reporter covering four cities within Cobb County. 

“I was thrilled,” she said. “My boss offered me the position the day before I graduated. I walked across the stage knowing that I had a career opportunity right after.”


A bright future ahead 

About a year after joining the AJC, Taylor was promoted to Cobb County reporter. Now she’s able to delve deeper into the beat that initially propelled her career at the paper. 

“I think this is a really exciting time to be at the AJC, particularly as a young reporter,” she said. “We’re undergoing this transformation from newspaper to modern media company, and that transformation has created excitement and energy around the newsroom.” 

Taylor has always appreciated the supportive environment in the AJC newsroom, which has remained steadfast even as she has grown in her role as a reporter. 

For instance, there are development opportunities like data workshops, analytics training and journalism conferences. Taylor also had the chance to delve into investigations at the AJC, which could be her next career step. 

“Eventually, I would like to get into investigative reporting,” she said. “I fortunately have a boss who grants me the flexibility to delve into a robust story and take the time to do some investigative work while also covering my beat.”

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