Katie Hopsicker had only been a graduate student in the Goldring arts journalism and communications program for a few months when she discovered an opportunity in the lack of arts coverage in Syracuse.
“A lot of times you write something for class and it never goes anywhere and you’re really proud of it,” Hopsicker says. “So I was kind of like, “What can I do to publish these stories?’”
Hopsicker launched the Salt City Arts Review, an email newsletter featuring reviews of Syracuse art and culture events. She published her first newsletter in November, and then relaunched it with a corresponding website this month. The publication has expanded from the initial reviews to more general coverage and multimedia projects, with a team of nine contributors.
“There’s such a great community here, and there is so much arts and culture to experience within the city and within [Syracuse University], so I really wanted to highlight that,” Hopsicker says.
The semester after Hopsicker first starting thinking about creating an arts publication she took Entrepreneurial Think/Practice in Entertainment Industry with Sean Branagan, director of the Center For Digital Media Entrepreneurship. Launching a product was part of the class requirement, and Hopsicker decided she wanted to create a local arts publication, but wasn’t sure how to do it. Then she attended a talk with Brad Wolverton from The Hustle and chose to do a newsletter as well. Hopsicker says without Branagan’s support and her Newhouse classes, she wouldn’t have been able to create the publication.
“[If I wasn’t at Newhouse], I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn about this type of outlet. In my classes, I’ve not only learned to become a better writer but also how to use multimedia in creative ways,” Hopsicker says. “I owe everything to Professor Branagan because he not only is super supportive, but at the same time he expects a lot.”
In addition to publishing her own writing, Hopsicker wanted her publication to create opportunities for her peers. She is always looking for contributors and is willing to work with those without much experience. She remembers one student who approached her about taking photos.
“She said, ‘I’m starting a photography class. I’m buying a camera and I don’t have any experience, but I want to try things out’ and I said, ‘Sure, let’s do it. Come to the event, take the photos, we’ll put a gallery on.’ I just give people the space to try things and grow,” Hopsicker says. “What matters most is the intention behind it and the passion behind it.”
Goldring director Eric Grode says the publication helps students to build their journalism skills outside of the classroom, while serving the Syracuse community.
“We want people to learn concepts and ideas, but we also really want to push skills,” Grode says. The best way to build skills is through doing regular work, he says, and if no one will hire you to do regular work, then creating your own publication is a viable option.
Hopsicker isn’t sure what is in store for the Salt City Arts Review after she graduates; she plans on figuring it out during the last few months of her degree work. Branagan says the future of the publication may be undecided, but he’s confident about one thing.
“We’re going to hear about Katie’s success because she’s learning how to be successful in a world of uncertainty, and that’s the world of media right now,” he says.
Elizabeth Kauma is a senior in the magazine, news and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.