Now more than ever, journalism and news are being pushed online. That is even the case here at The Lariat, where articles are posted on the website as well as in print, and the student body can stay up-to-date on the latest news by following The Lariat’s social media accounts. But behind every article and post that pops up from The Lariat is senior Emma Huerta, the Online Editor-in-Chief.
Huerta’s journey in journalism started in middle school.
“I took a creative writing journalism class at Franklin Academy Cooper City, and we had a newsletter that we wrote every once in a while,” Huerta said. “I occasionally wrote articles for [the newsletter], but it wasn’t anything major.”
When she arrived at CCHS, she was immediately impressed with The Lariat.
“When I was first coming in [to CCHS], [The Lariat] seemed really intimidating because it was so professional-looking and the website was so neat,” Huerta said.
This fueled her desire to join, and at the end of her freshman year, she applied to The Lariat despite not having taken the typical prerequisite class Journalism 1. Nevertheless, she was made a staff writer for her sophomore year.
“When I was first coming in [to CCHS], [The Lariat] seemed really intimidating because it was so professional-looking and the website was so neat.”The Lariat Online Editor-in-Chief Emma Huerta
Arielle Kraus, the Print Editor-in-Chief of The Lariat and friend of Huerta, still remembers their first day in newspaper class together.
“[Huerta] joined the newspaper her sophomore year– and so did I– and we sat next to each other from day one,” Kraus said. “If we were in school now, I think we would still be sitting next to each other.”
Throughout her first year with the paper, Huerta spent her time writing articles and snapping pictures on her camera. She quickly grasped how different the writing style was in The Lariat, compared to the typical writing style done in English class.
“When I came to [The] Lariat and started writing in a completely new way, it kind of altered the usual perspective I had on writing, and I had to adapt to that,” Huerta said.
In addition to the learning curve of writing journalistically, The Lariat caused Huerta to approach communicating with people differently.
“I’ve had to learn, kind of forcibly, to adapt to new ways of communication, especially when [I am] trying to get some information and someone is not responding to [my] emails,” Huerta said.
“When I came to [The] Lariat and started writing in a completely new way, it kind of altered the usual perspective I had on writing, and I had to adapt to that.”The Lariat Online Editor-in-Chief Emma Huerta
By her second year with The Lariat, she became a general editor, helping edit her peers’ articles for publication, as well as continuing to write.
Out of all the articles Huerta has written for The Lariat, she claims to enjoy writing news pieces the best.
“When we are on campus and writing normally, I really like writing news because it gets me in-the-know of what’s going on at Cooper City in a really interesting way,” Huerta said. “I also get to talk to a lot of different people, like teachers I didn’t know worked at our school or students who are doing really great things.”
Huerta’s talent for writing articles is well-known within CCHS and beyond, as she has won several district and state accolades from the Florida Scholastic Press Association (FSPA).
“In my sophomore year, when I was just a staff writer and an occasional photographer, I submitted some of my photos and a feature article to FSPA,” Huerta said. “I got an Honorable Mentions for those on the state level.”
In her junior year, she did even better, receiving several Excellent awards for her pieces, as well as a coveted All-Florida award for a feature she wrote about body image in dance culture.
Despite these successes, Huerta almost did not become Online Editor-in-Chief, as she was thinking about leaving CCHS’s campus through the Early Admission program at Broward College.
“I was considering Early Admission, so I wasn’t planning on actually coming back,” Huerta said.
In the end, she decided to stay and applied for an editor-in-chief position near the end of her junior year.
“Even before she was [an editor-in-chief], she was doing things that showed how much she cared about the paper.”The Lariat Adviser Fallan Patterson
“Even before she was [an editor-in-chief], she was doing things that showed how much she cared about the paper,” The Lariat Adviser Fallan Patterson said. “That’s the kind of student you want in a position like this. She is willing to make those sacrifices, to jump in and do breaking news and those kinds of things, and I’m really excited about the fact that she applied for and was named an editor-in-chief.”
In her new position, Huerta works on the very same professional website that first drew her to The Lariat about four years ago, where she edits and publishes articles written by herself and the rest of the newspaper staff. She also runs The Lariat’s social media accounts.
“Our presence online has skyrocketed since she’s taken over,” Patterson said. “That’s huge; we have so much more of a social media presence.”
She is known throughout the staff for her organization and kindness, especially when it comes to editing work and interacting with new staff members.
“I like that she does the ‘compliment sandwich’ [when she edits], and she’s really good about saying, ‘Hey, this is what I liked about your article,’ even if she’s had to edit it a lot,” Patterson said. “She knows what it’s like to be someone who started out with the paper. She remembers where she started and she brings that to the relationships she forges with the new staffers.”
Her dedication to The Lariat is clear to everyone who has worked with her.
“She is so motivated,” Kraus said. “Our texts all the time are like, ‘What should we do now for The Lariat and how can we make it better?’”
“She is so motivated. Our texts all the time are like, ‘What should we do now for The Lariat and how can we make it better?’”The Lariat Print Editor-in-Chief Arielle Kraus
This dedication demonstrates to those around her that Huerta is truly passionate about CCHS’s newspaper and gives it her all.
“It’s nice to have someone who genuinely loves the class and genuinely loves what we are doing,” Patterson said. “She wants to see us succeed.”
Reflecting on her three-year career with The Lariat, Huerta is grateful for the time she has spent with the newspaper.
“It is honestly such a rewarding experience, believe it or not,” said Huerta. “Constantly doing work and being involved in the school environment in such a unique way is so rewarding, and actually seeing that work pay off and have it presented in such a professional way is just awesome.”
Photo courtesy of Emma Huerta