Q&A with Madelyn Knight


Q. When did you first join the Journal?

I did journalism my second semester of my freshman year. And so then I joined as a photographer and an entertainment writer my sophomore year. 

Q. Did you join because of the class?

Actually, I wanted to join since like seventh grade because my cousin did it and he was talking about it. At that time I was really enjoying photography so, he was like “you should join Journal and you should do photography in high school.” So it was something I always wanted to do going into high school. 

Q. Did you do photos the whole way through? 

I was a photographer my sophomore year. And then, in junior year I was photos editor, and then senior year (I was) Editor-in-Chief. 

Q. How did it feel winning journalist of the year?

I actually wasn’t going to apply because I didn’t think I had enough writing experience. Mr. K was like “why haven’t you applied yet?” And I was like “Oh I just didn’t even think that I would be good enough to do it.” So he was like “No, No, No, you should apply.” So I applied. Once I started putting together my portfolio and everything, I was like “Ok, yeah I really do want this award.” So I sent it off and had everyone read my essay and everything. I was really excited when I found out that I was a finalist. I was like “You know what, being a finalist is a huge deal and I’m really excited about it.” But I was like “Man, it would be really cool.” And so, when I won the reward, it meant a lot to me. And all of my friends on The journal were really excited. It was a special day because like my parents were there and everyone was just so happy for me and it made me feel like all the time of The Journal kind of like accumulated into that moment. It felt like “Wow all of this paid off” and it was just a really special moment for me. 

Q. Did you know the person who won it the year before

One of my favorite memories from Journal is when they were announcing journalist of the year. So Drew Tapp was the one who won the year before and he was a good friend of mine cause he was Editor-in-Chief when I was photos editor. And I did theater with him when I was in middle school so I have known him for a long time. He wrote my recommendation letter for journalist of the year cause he was the previous one. I remember I was standing up there with the 3 other finalists and they were talking and describing the winner. And all of a sudden the person says “In the words of last year’s recipient.” And me and Mr. K immediately locked eyes and we both knew that I won. And it was just really funny cause we immediately locked eyes and we were smiling cause we knew. And it was really cool cause Drew gave me that recommendation that helped me get there. 

Q. What was your proudest moment on The Journal?

I think (the) proudest moment for me was just being Editor-in-Chief. It was really fun just watching everyone get better and better throughout the year including myself. It was kind of fun to be in charge of that development. So by the end of the year, you are looking at stuff you made your last issue and then you look at issue one and it’s like “Wow, look how far we came.” It’s such a short time that I got to be a part of that and help people get there. So, I think it was just a really cool moment looking back and seeing how much we grew over time. 

Q. What kind of skills did you get from Journal that helped you outside of it?

I always tell people that the Journal taught me probably more real-world job skills than anything else in high school and anything else growing up. Being Editor-in-Chief is a legit endeavor: you’re working really hard and everyone is trying to look to you for answers and you have to come up with answers and have an opinion. It was really cool seeing those skills transfer over in college because of that. Because of that with what I learned as Editor-in-Chief, I was able to transfer that to becoming vice president of my student program at IU. Where I can do that same thing and working with a group of students who wanted to learn about a certain subject. And now I am interning, I have to continue using those professional skills and continue helping people learn about filmmaking. Also just like professionalism. There is a lot you learn on the Journal even if you aren’t Editor-in-Chief, like how to email, how to call individuals, and not freak out about it because it is a little daunting. Because I had to do so many of that stuff, by the time I was in college or looking for internships or looking for jobs it wasn’t as daunting because I had already done a lot of that while in high school. 

Q. What did you do after high school?

I went to Indiana University of Bloomington. I always wanted to major in journalism and then senior year I changed my mind. Which was funny because I was Editor-in-Chief of The Journal and I was like “actually I want to be a filmmaker.” Because I really loved the storytelling part of journalism and I wanted to add more creativity to that and obviously in journalism, you got to tell the truth how it is. So I was like “You know what? I want to tell stories in a different way.” So I did major in film. Technically my major is long and complicated, it is like Media with the concentration in cinematic arts. And I have specialization in different film areas. So that is what I did. I am in my last semester and I am finishing that up. So I am doing internships here. And I am graduating a full year early which is really nice. 

Q. What do you plan to do after you graduate?

Right now I am really stressed about that. It’s a very intimidating time right now. I think right now my plan is to go home for graduation and go to my graduation, say “hi” to my family and friends. I am not entirely sure what am going to do this summer. I might work (or) I might travel (or) like both. I might end up getting an opportunity here but my goal is to get back in LA by August and start working in film production. 

Topic. Film Production

I think right now I am interested in doing production management like assistant directing. Things that have to do with more of the logistic side of film production which honestly is because of it being rooted in the fact that I was Editor-in-Chief of the Journal. That taught me how to manage, how to organize, and everything. Now those skills are following me. I think I always talked about doing camera work in film. Then I decided what I enjoy doing and I was like “I really enjoyed being Editor-in-Chief.” That was more managing stuff. When you are Editor-in-Chief, you do some writing and I always designed covers but your biggest job is delegating. And trying to organize everything. I was like “I really enjoy doing that.” and the equivalent to that in the film world is producing and management and production management. And so, that is kind of like how I fell into this realm of production versus camera work. 

Q. How did you get into photography?

My parents got me a camera for Christmas one year. So then, I started doing a lot of photos and I would do like my sister’s senior portraits. My family started to be like “Okay, you can do mine, I’ll give you $25 for it.” Eventually, I just kept doing it until I know my senior year of high school I did like all of my friends’ senior photos. Which is fun. But I knew in middle school that I wanted to do photography. It was like my thing. I wanted to do photojournalism or some sort of national geographics photographer. Of course that changed over time. But I still love photography and it was a lot of fun. 

Q. How would you describe the dynamic of the Journal?

I think it changed. What the dynamic was my sophomore year was very different than what it was in my senior year. But I learned when I was a sophomore and junior, I was watching what the Editor-in-Chief and managing editors all did. And what they did to create that Journal atmosphere. Obviously, I had fun both years otherwise I wouldn’t have stayed in it. But there was stuff where I was like “Man, if I was the Editor-in-Chief or if I was managing editor this is what I would do. The first two years (were) super fun. My junior year, me and my Journal friends liked to prank our Editor-in-Chiefs and managing editors a lot. So there was this one time we saran wrapped our Editor-in-Chiefs car. Like we just wrapped it in saran wrap. So that was fun. So there was definitely always a little fun atmosphere in it where we are all making awesome work but we are always having a lot of fun while doing it. And that was kind of what I wanted to keep my senior year. So, I really tried to promote creativity and having fun as Editor-in-Chief. I ultimately hope that that’s what trickled down. I had a lot of people tell me that they tell me they had fun that year. So, that was my goal. I was like “Man when I have sophomores looking up to me, I want them to remember this year as a really fun time.” That was what I tried to do. While also encouraging making awesome work as well. I think the dynamic is a mixture of great work and fun. 

Q. Do you have any advice you would want to give to current or future staff?

I guess enjoy it and make the most of it because the stuff that you learn in Journal you will use for the rest of your life. Like sending emails, calling, just the way you are just in an environment where you are just reporting to someone. That’s all that is going to follow you into your future. So, really learn from that. Take every experience that you can to become more professional and more experienced with that. Also, don’t forget that you are in high school and that what you do in high school should be fun ultimately. So, if you aren’t having fun (then) find a way to make it fun. Because if you aren’t having fun then there is probably other people that aren’t having fun. The Journal should be a place where everyone is having a good time and making cool stuff. If you aren’t having fun, try to make the most of it (and) do something unique. Journalism can be creative you can make some cool stuff, you can follow a story that you are really passionate in, and try to make connections with the people on the staff. They are people you see every day and they’re, hopefully, people that you talk to for the rest of your life. Me and Lyndsay Valadez will say “J-one Day one,” because day one of Journalism One, we didn’t meet there but we basically became friends there. Now she is still my best friend. We room together in college. I miss her so much right now while I’m in LA and I am excited to see her when I go home. I think, just like remembering that you are in high school and that there is so much fun and everything is just not as intense as it may seem right now. So, just really make the most of it that you can. 

Topic. Final thoughts

I love the Journal so much. People like my parents always say that they don’t remember much from high school but I don’t ever think I will forget being on the Journal. I don’t ever think that that will be a memory I forget. Maybe parts of it, but I will always remember my friends. That is the biggest thing I will remember, the people I was on the Journal with. And I’ll remember Mr.K and I’ll remember room 400. I think what Mr. K does and teaches and brings into his classroom and the environment around him is so welcoming. I don’t know if he realizes how much of an impact he has on his students and so because of him, I think the Journal is so important to many people.