As a high school student, Nick Hollkamp spent his early mornings throwing out copies of The Louisville Courier-Journal from the back of his family's station wagon.
"I delivered newspapers to 300 people on Sundays and about 200 on weekdays, every day for four and a half years," said Hollkamp, BA'91. "Now, I've spent 23 years actually working for that paper."
Hollkamp is the paper's breaking news editor and a member of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize this year in Breaking News Reporting. But in between the bottom and top rungs, Hollkamp put in his time at a series of unglamorous jobs.
After enrolling in a copy editing class at IU and obtaining a Dow Jones summer internship, Hollkamp spent a summer in New Jersey at the Asbury Park Press.
"It was terrific, and I was good at it," he said. "I liked turning catchy phrases and headlines, whether it's an alliteration or a pun, and really looking at a story. A story is nothing without a great headline."
Hollkamp returned to Louisville after graduation and got a job writing article synopses for library index systems. Next, he worked as a copy editor at The News-Enterprise in Elizabethtown, Kentucky — a 50-minute drive from his home each way.
After some encouragement from his wife, Hollkamp applied to work at The Courier-Journal, a dream he had since he was a little boy. What he hadn't dreamt of was working on the night desk for seven and a half years.
Working at the paper while most people were asleep still felt special to Hollkamp, and he knew he was putting his family first.
"At some point you've got to do what you've got to do to survive," he said. "My kids were going to have the best future if I did that."
Hollkamp stayed with the paper, next becoming assistant neighborhoods editor, where he handled raw copy and worked directly with reporters. After going through yet another job change — this time serving as the paper's politics editor — Hollkamp assumed his current role as breaking news editor.
"The nature of journalism is always changing," he said. "You have to be open-minded, and you have to be versatile."
Open-mindness coupled with versatility can result in great stories produced by a team.
The Courier-Journal's Pulitzer-winning team investigated former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin's parting pardons.
"I always said Matt Bevin is a Pultizer waiting to happen,” Hollkamp said.
The paper's coverage shed light on Bevin pardoning hundreds of convicted felons during his final night in office. The story uncovered some of Bevin's secrets, from handing out pardons after convicted felons' family members held fundraisers for his political campaigns, to pardoning individuals who had committed heinous crimes, such as rape and murder.
"We got that story because we were aggressive and there was a lot of teamwork," Hollkamp said. "We didn't think, 'Oh, we'll wait until tomorrow and make a phone call.' No, we went and knocked on doors. Once you have something that big, really sink your teeth into it and don't let go."
When asked whether he thought President Donald Trump, who has openly spoken about pardoning people, could follow Bevin's lead, Hollkamp acknowledged the parallels.
"You can't predict what Trump is going to do — just like Matt Bevin — but I wouldn't be surprised," he said. "We'll see what happens over the next (month). So far, there have been a lot of similarities between Trump and Bevin, and if it were an equation, that would add up."
Hollkamp said he experiences a range of emotions while covering stories, especially stories like Bevin's.
"It does have an effect on your view on society, whatever that story is, but then when you win the Pultizer, in my case it was like after all of these years of hard work, you kind of felt recognized," Hollkamp said. "It was to make my kids proud. I've given up some things with them with all of those years working nights. It was kind of like, 'Boy, maybe I am good at this.'"