WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) – He’s interviewed Sen. John McCain, hobnobbed with Chelsea Clinton, grilled “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams and battled other reporters in the “spin room” for a chance to fire questions at campaign hot shots at a recent presidential debate.

All this, and Jack Greenberg still manages to get his homework done. At 11 years old, Jack is a reporter for Scholastic News and a sixth-grader at Bailey Middle School.

A West Haven resident, he is one of 80 kids across the country who report and write news stories for the online publication and classroom magazine, covering the presidential election, the environment, politics, culture, sports and other beats.

“We’re not giving little kiddie questions. We are asking real serious hardball questions,” he says while sporting a Scholastic Kids Press Corps pass around his neck. Jack keeps his White House press badge in a secret hidden box in his bedroom.

At first glance, Jack is like any other 11-year-old boy: he enjoys reading books, surfing the Internet, watching reality TV and going to school.

Between balancing middle school and a budding career, Jack also acts in and directs plays. He doesn’t have much time for sports, though he said enjoys golf.

The most unusual thing about Jack is his resume of interviews and stories he’s written while a reporter for Scholastic News over the past two years.

Jack first applied for a kid reporter position when he was a fourth-grader and saw the ad on Scholastic’s Web site. He wrote two essays – one about the state of Connecticut and the other about why he wants to be a kid reporter – and was selected for the job two years in a row.

Once on board with Scholastic, there was no break-in period for Jack to learn the tricks of the trade. No easy weather stories or apple festivals for Jack his first assignment was to interview Gov. M. Jodi Rell last year during Women’s History Month in February.

“I couldn’t sleep the night before,” he said. “But I came prepared and I was ready for the challenge.”

Jack asked the governor questions about whether she has faced sexism in her career and what advice she has for kids who might want to be governor one day.

When he encountered McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, at a rally at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield in February, Jack got one question in: “Do you believe you are being too strong on the war in Iraq and not strong enough on the economy?”

McCain told Jack, and other reporters hovering around him, that radical Islamist extremists in Iraq are a long-term challenge for the country and defended his record on the economy.

Jack’s interview with NBC’s Williams at the “Nightly News” studio was what convinced him that journalism is the career of his future. More specifically, he’d like to be sitting in Williams’ chair one day.

“I want to be his successor,” Jack says with a huge smile.

And when Jack’s questioning of Williams caused the network news anchor to pause and say “Jack, you’re really grilling me,” Jack was all the prouder.

As intense as he’d like to be with his questions, Jack constantly reminds himself of the audience he is writing for: kids.

“They don’t want to know about the economic stimulus package or whether the (Iraq) surge is working,” he says. Kids want to know about the historic impact of the election and about how candidates will make the world a better place, according to Jack.

Margaret Greenberg, Jack’s mother, said education has been a priority in the family. She encourages both her sons and supports Jack when he interviews Rell or covers a national debate.

“This was all Jack. He drove the whole thing,” she says of his budding journalism career.

Jack keeps informed by reading Web sites like Wikipedia and Politico.com. He watches the “Today Show” every day before school and reads the New Haven Register.

Recently, Jack’s spring break plans got a jolt when his editor called and asked if he would like to cover the Democratic presidential debate in Philadelphia last week.

“My heart started racing,” he says.

Jack watched the debate between Democratic Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton from the press room in the National Constitution Center. Afterward, Jack accompanied a bunch of reporters into the chaotic “spin room” where he employed a simple strategy to get to political bigwigs.

“I used my size to my advantage,” he says with a sly smile and describes ducking and weaving his way through the crowd of frenetic adult reporters.

Jack is content to cover assignments for Scholastic News, but is confident he will continue in journalism. And he has some advice for other youngsters who want to be a reporter.

“Stay in the know about current events. Follow the presidential race. Watch the news, read the news and have an interest in going into a career in journalism,” he said.

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