Katie Huffman is the 2019-2020 student vice president of SIPA.
What publication do you work on?
I work on the Livewire newsmagazine at Bullitt East High School in Mt. Washington, Kentucky.
What is your position and are you duties within your publication?
This year I am the editor-in-chief, so I run the publication. I plan out what we do every day in class to work towards one common goal, and of course I oversee and reinforce the jobs of all other editors. The main responsibility I put solely on my shoulders is to constantly think of how we can do better. What things do we need to improve on as a staff? What are we struggling with? How do we get better? I take a lot of time every week to reflect on the progress we have made and what the next step is that we can take.
What is your favorite type of journalism and why?
I’m fond of all things journalism, but over the years I would say I have grown to prefer editorial writing over anything else. I would much rather prefer writing about something I feel strongly about and voicing my opinion than writing a feature or a news article. Plus, even if people don’t agree with me, I like having the chance to express how I feel, which most of the time is only to try and benefit the lives of others. But, I’m from Kentucky, so obviously Gonzo Journalism is a close runner-up.
Read an example of Katie's editorial writing on Livewire's website
What is your favorite type of social media and why?
Twitter is probably my favorite. On my newsfeed, it’s a lot of news mixed in with other random things that people I follow like and retweet, so I get on there more often than anything else. Also, I do not make tik toks, but once I open up that app I always get stuck on there for a ridiculous amount of time.
What inspired the SIPA theme?
I think about two hours before I was supposed to meet with the other student officers in Chattanooga (at the fall meeting), I didn’t have any ideas for a theme. As a last minute brainstorming session, I looked up different political campaigns because of the upcoming election year just to see what kinds of messages politicians were putting out. I came across one that said “We’re Listening,” or something along those lines, and I thought to myself, “Are you, though?” If they are listening, who are they listening to? In my own opinion, not the youth of America, because we are definitely undervalued and pushed to the side. We are constantly told we’re “too young” to have developed opinions, or that we should “leave politics to the adults.” I have heard both of these statements at least within the past three months.
What was your idea behind this year’s SIPA theme?
My whole idea behind the theme is that as student journalists, we have to make the adults running our country, and making decisions about our future, listen. We should be taken just as seriously as the professional journalists that do our same line of work. We aren’t “too young” to have valid opinions, because I think our youth gives us insight and a perspective that nobody else has.
What does “Make Them Listen” mean to you?
Personally to me, at my school and for my staff, I take “Make Them Listen” as we have a job to do and we have to give people a reason to listen to us and to take us seriously. Even for the small issues we don’t agree with our administration on, like a new school policy or dress code, we have to speak up as the voice for the students and make them listen. It can be taken politically, or just as a motivational message for journalism in general.
How do you plan on “making them listen” in the future? (What will you do in the future
that will impact student journalism?)
Sometimes I feel as if our news staff is overlooked, or not recognized for all that we do. Recognition is actually one of the last things I care about, but I feel that our staff does more than people think, and we work harder than they know. I want to work towards making other students at my school listen to us, and make sure they know they can rely on us to be a beacon for their voice. Also just in general, I want our students, teachers, administration and everyone else to realize that we are doing things that have never been done before and we are working hard to take one step closer to excellence. Over the past few years, we have sometimes gotten stuck in a loophole of covering the same things, and talking about issues that somewhat matter, but not really. I hope that over this year as the editor, I can remind people how important our job is and that what we publish can make a difference and leave a lasting impact. We already have three out of four magazines for the year planned out, and I’m excited to start some discussions and make people listen to important things we haven’t covered before.
What mark do you want to make on student journalism?
I’ve never made plans, or even dreamed, of changing student journalism on the whole, but I know something I am capable of is inspiring the people on my staff that will take charge when I leave. I don’t want people to think back on this year and say, “Meh, that was okay.” I want them to look at the work we do this year, and the important things we are covering and be inspired to tackle tougher topics, no matter if the odds aren’t necessarily in their favor. I want them to take the publication and make it their own, and be proud of everything in it. I want to be able to push the staff this year as far as I can, so that when I can’t influence the publication anymore, I know they can do great things without me looking over their shoulder. Like I’ve said, I don’t care about recognition or changing how things work at a larger level, but I do care about my publication. I want to leave a mark at my school, and set a precedent for the staffs that will follow this year.