Kylie Hubbard is ready for her next story.
Hubbard is concluding her third semester as editor-in-chief of UT’s independent student newspaper, the Daily Beacon. She graduated this month with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and electronic media.
UT’s graduate hooding was held at 4:30 p.m. December 12 and undergraduate commencement at 9 a.m. December 13, both in Thompson-Boling Arena. The university awarded 1,191 undergraduate degrees, 1,171 graduate degrees and certificates, and one law degree. See the commencement website for details.
Though she’s all in now, Hubbard stumbled into journalism.
From White House, Tennessee, she came to UT as a graphic design major but switched to journalism during the spring of her freshman year.
She got involved with the Daily Beacon through a journalism course her freshman year.
“We had the opportunity to participate in a student media project to help boost our grade,” she said. “I wrote four pieces and was quickly approached by the Beacon’s incoming editor-in-chief, Alex Holcomb, to apply for the vacant assistant news editor position for the fall of 2017.”
She got the job, then advanced to news editor in March 2018. Later that semester, when the Daily Beacon was in the market for new leadership, she was urged to apply for editor-in-chief. She interviewed during finals week and got the job.
“I think the reason I have stuck with journalism is because it’s a servant role; journalists are tasked with keeping people informed, which in turn keeps your community safe,” she said.
With the public wary of “fake news” and the media landscape changing so rapidly, that can be a heavy load.
“But I think young journalists have the opportunity to change the narrative in a world where the narrative is constantly against their future profession.”
Hubbard said the most memorable story of her Daily Beacon career was a profile she wrote about cartoonist Marshall Ramsey, a Daily Beacon alumnus.
“He had such great advice. Something he said resonates so much with me: ‘UT gave me an education. The Daily Beacon gave me a career.’”
Her toughest story: the death of fellow student Tanner Wray, who collapsed during an amateur boxing match during Boxing Weekend in 2018.
Hubbard and another Beacon staff member rushed to Johnson-Ward Pedestrian Walkway to cover the campus vigil the night of Wray’s death. She continued to follow the story and then later interviewed Wray’s mom about the Tanner Wray Foundation.
“All I could think of while talking to his mom is how awful it must be to lose a child so suddenly. I count my blessings and call or text my mom every day to remind myself that time is precious and we can’t squander it,” she said.
Hubbard said she’s learned countless lessons at the Daily Beacon.
“I think the most important part of the Beacon, and any student newsroom, is the real-world experience it gives students before they make it to the real world.”
And it’s not just the experience of writing, editing, and designing.
“Most important are the soft skills you learn along the way—time management, organization, email communication, personable skills, leadership, discipline. I owe a lot to the Beacon for teaching me how to be a journalist, but I owe it a lot more for teaching me how to be a successful employee no matter what field I go into.”
John Kennedy, technology coordinator in the Office of Student Media, said Hubbard has overseen the production of more than 300 videos with 59,000-plus views and 3,200 website articles with 1.7 million views.
“We work with some excellent students in Student Media, but every couple of years, we are lucky enough to work with a student that knocks it out of the park,” he said. “Leading by example, Kylie has built a staff that is thoughtful, thorough, and timely.”
“Kylie is 100 percent a rock star, and I look forward to seeing where her career takes her.”
Where that is, Hubbard isn’t quite sure yet. Working in social media is appealing, but she’s also interested in being a student media advisor—mentoring others the way people like Kennedy have guided her.
“I love helping others in a hands-on environment and sharing the knowledge that was shared with me,” she said. “I hope that at some time in my career, whether that’s now or in 20 years, I find myself back in a student newsroom giving students what my advisors gave to me.”
Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, firstname.lastname@example.org)