2022 Honi Interview transcript: Shake for Honi

Honi sat down with Luke Mesterovic and Katarina Butler, representing Shake for Honi.

Honi Soit: Hardest question first: what is your ticket name and who are the members of the ticket?

Katarina Butler: So we’re Shake for Honi and our members are myself, Luke Mesterovic, uh, Luke , Christine Lai, Ethan Floyd, Bipasha Chak…

Luke Mesterovic: Chakraborty.

Katarina Butler: Can you say that?

Luke Mesterovic: Chakraborty, Bipasha Chakraborty.

Katarina Butler: Continue the list.

Luke Mesterovic: Okay,

Katarina Butler: so it’s we can just get her to say someone’s last name.

Luke Mesterovic: Well, I forgot which ones we’ve said so far. I was just counting off for you.

Honi Soit: You can start again. Okay. I’ll re-ask the question. What’s your ticket name and who are the members of the ticket?

Luke Mesterovic: Do you want me to do it this time?

Katarina Butler: You can do it this time.

Luke Mesterovic: Okay. Uh, so we are Shake for Honi and our members are myself, Luke Mesterovic, Katarina Butler, Luke Cass, Eamonn Murphy, Christine Lai, Misbah Ansari, Andy Park, Ethan Floyd, Bipasha Chakraborty, and … Dear God…

Katarina Butler: Oh, no.

Luke Mesterovic: Are we gonna have to do this a third time?

Honi Soit: It’s Veronica Lenard.

Luke Mesterovic: Veronica.

Katarina Butler: It’s Veronica.

Luke Mesterovic: Cause I knew I… I jumped it.

Honi Soit: It’s fine, you’ll have this all year. I just alphabetise it in my mind.

What is your ticket name and who are the members of your ticket?

Luke Mesterovic: So we are Shake and our members are myself, Luke Mesterovic, Katarina Butler, Luke Cass, Eamonn Murphy, Christine Lai, Misbah Ansari, Veronica Lenard, Andy Park, Ethan Floyd and Bipasha Chakraborty.

Honi Soit: Are any of those people, the members of your ticket, part of a USyd faction or political party?

Katarina Butler: I’m Kat and I’m.

Oh God. I’m like blanking. I’m Kat and I’m.

Luke Mesterovic: A member of SLS?

Katarina Butler: Yeah. Of, I just say I’m Kat, I’m a member of SLS. Sorry.

Honi Soit: Just for the purpose of the recording, would you mind saying that with what SLS stands for.

Katarina Butler: So I’m Kat, I’m from Sydney Labor Students. Socialist Labor students. Fuck me. Sorry.

Luke Mesterovic: Isn’t it Sydney Labor Students?

Katarina Butler: No, socialist.

Luke Mesterovic: Oh, okay. I thought it was Sydney.

Katarina Butler: We’re so far divorced from stupol, I just dunno. I’m pretty sure it’s social. Yeah. Socialist.

Luke Mesterovic: You’re leaving the faction, aren’t you?

Katarina Butler: Yeah.

This is why. Cause I can’t even remember what it’s called.

Honi Soit: So you’re leaving the faction. Are you leaving the Labor party as well?

Katarina Butler: Probably. Yeah.

Honi Soit: Cool.

Luke Mesterovic: I’m Luke Mesterovic, I’m in Student Unity, I’m a member of the Labor Pary. I’ll leave Student Unity, but I will remain a member of the Labor Party. Eamonn Murphy and Andy Park, both members of Switch, and they’ve said they will leave the faction if they are to do any stupol related coverage.

Honi Soit: Does anyone else have previous affiliations to a faction?

Luke Mesterovic: Misbah Ansari used to be involved in Grassroots. Was Luke Cass a part of Switch, Switch aligned?

Yeah, no.

Um, no one else is part of faction or has been.

Katarina Butler: Ethan Floyd is part of the Labor Party.

Honi Soit: We might just also get you two to introduce yourselves. So if you just wanna say your names, what degree you’re studying, that kind of thing.

Katarina Butler: I’m Kat I do MedSci and French, I’m in second year.

Luke Mesterovic: I’m Luke. I do Politics/International Relations with a major in Theatre in my second year

Honi Soit: Why did you nominate to edit Honi Soit?

Katarina Butler: Yeah, both of us have loved Honi Soit since we started at uni, we’ve contributed a lot. And we believe we have a pretty strong vision of what we want Honi Soit to be like next year.

Luke Mesterovic: Yeah. I think it’s just, as the only weekly student publication in Australia, it’s like to be involved in that, any capacity is so exciting. And as an editor, I think there’s just so much opportunity as a medium to really experiment with that and have fun with that. And also use it as, as serious as it is in order to hold management accountable in a way that other student publications like Tharunka, Vertigo simply don’t have the resources to do. So I think Honi Soit has such a big obligation for students all across the country. That’s why it’s so exciting to be a part of it. And hopefully, well, I would say hopefully, but now have a chance to be Editor.

Honi Soit: In one sentence, what is your vision for Honi?

Luke Mesterovic: One sentence? Do you wanna do the first half

Katarina Butler: Um, I could do it.

Luke Mesterovic: You, you do the, okay. I’ll do the serious thing.

Honi Soit: Maybe just one of you answers.

Luke Mesterovic: Yeah. Okay. I’ll answer this. Our vision for Honi is in one sentence, something that is bold, provocative cultural, whilst holding management to account with our radical student voice.

Honi Soit: What are your three most important policy commitments?

Katarina Butler: Yeah. So our first one is to hold colleges to account. Our second one is to create a more engaged writing and reporting community. And our third one… I’ve forgotten.

Luke Mesterovic: Our third one, like doing a Rick Perry moment in the 2012 Republican primary. ‘What’s the third one there?’ Third one I would say is maintaining the radical student voice. Yeah.

Honi Soit: So firstly, briefly, how would you describe your ticket’s political orientation?

Luke Mesterovic: Everybody identifies as left of centre.

Everyone sees and is an agreement with Honi being a radical student voice and in upholding that history that it has into the future.

Honi Soit: Could you just quickly elaborate on what does it mean to be a left-wing student paper and broadly, what would it mean to be progressive as a voice on campus?

Katarina Butler: So being a left-wing paper means supporting the strikes. It means reporting on the shortcomings of management, it means holding colleges and other institutions to account. It means reporting what’s going on at other universities for the broader world of students and education. And it means representing student voices and ideas that are kind of, provocative and yeah, not the mainstream at all.

Honi Soit: What is the most important issue that’s facing young people in Australia right now?

Luke Mesterovic: Yeah, I mean, can I say the future? Because I mean, the trajectory that the world is heading in is ultimately the most pressing issue for young people, whether it’s the lack of action on climate change, whether it’s the ongoing effects of neoliberal reforms.

Katarina Butler: Mm-hmm , uh, the rise of the extreme, right?

Luke Mesterovic: Yeah. Yeah. I would say if I had to dial down to a single issue, I would say climate change.

Katarina Butler: I would agree. Yeah. Yeah.

Honi Soit: Okay, cool. And how do you plan on addressing that using Honi

Katarina Butler: Yeah absolutely continuing the strong news coverage that has gone on, contextualizing it within the world of science, within the world of politics, making sure students have an idea of like, just how destructive climate change will be and has been already like covering massive natural disasters. And just the complete deterioration of, you know, life as we know it. Just a bit dark, but absolutely needed.

Honi Soit: So moving on to another question, this is the second time in the last few years that an Honi ticket is being elected unopposed. Given students haven’t had the chance to engage in your vision, how can you be sure you are serving content that there’s an audience for, how do you know what students want if they haven’t voted on it?

Katarina Butler: Yeah, that’s a really good question. I think that the contestation last year was so fierce that it did give students an opportunity to give feedback on the paper and to engage a lot more with student elections. And it’s a real shame that we weren’t contested this year, cause we would’ve loved to, convince, like prove ourselves really. But, um, yeah, I think just kind of working off what has already been done. I mean, uh, we also wanna have a greater presence on campus and hold things like fortnightly or weekly meetings and office hours just to have more of a presence in the community, welcome feedback. Yeah.

Luke Mesterovic: Foster a culture where people, if they don’t like what we’re putting out, feel comfortable speaking to us and then we can work from there.

Honi Soit: We might get into some more specific questions about your approach to editing Honi. Which Honi ticket over the previous decade or so do you see yourself as being most alike to, and why is that?

Luke Mesterovic: Can we, cause I think there were aspects of different tickets that we’ve really appreciated. Yeah. So when it comes to college coverage, WET was fantastic. So Maani Truu and Natassia Chrysanthos wrote so much good college stuff and it’s, there’s been a lack of that recently, you can attribute that to defamation risks, the institutional power these colleges hold.

And so it’s hard to give a particular reason as to why there’s been a decrease in that, but in our college policy specifically WET. In terms of visual imagery, Bloom. Definitely.

Katarina Butler: Loved Bloom, as well as their creative, creative side of the paper, in terms of creative writing as well.

Luke Mesterovic: Sem one of Bloom, in terms of just that front broadsheet was fantastic.

Issue one with the pixelated F23 was a stand out for me. Fantastic.

Katarina Butler: Also I loved Cake’s coverage of obviously the strikes and what’s going on in USyd management. I think that like the deep dives into how our money’s being spent is so important. So there’s a lot, there’s a lot of awesome stuff to build off in the past couple years.

Luke Mesterovic: What you guys have done great is like looking at Honi as the student publication. For higher ed all across Australia. Because again, as the only weekly student publication, we kind of need to pick up the slack that other students… And so we’d like to actually invite other people from other unis to, contribute whether it’s from UTS, UNSW, or elsewhere.

Honi Soit: Just quickly on the Bloom front page, would you be wanting to return to the image only front page?

Luke Mesterovic: We’d be willing to we’ll consider? Well, we’ll talk about with the entire ticket, but, um, that is in the works.

Katarina Butler: You know, Honi Soit, main headline. Beautiful.

Honi Soit: Are you aware that Bloom quite intentionally moved away from that?

Luke Mesterovic: Yeah, so, well, they moved into that in Sem two, but honestly we liked it in Sem one, me personally. I love the sem one thing. Yeah. Looked really clean. Anyway, that’s a discussion.

Honi Soit: Honi relies on funding through SSAF, which has to be renegotiated every year. If hypothetically, hopefully not, the university decided to halve Honi’s budget. How would you respond? Would you cut print editions?

Luke Mesterovic: We’d revert back to the 5k salary unless it’s been halved to a two and a half thousand salary.

Honi Soit: So just to clarify, the 5k salary is still the default.

Luke Mesterovic: Um, so if it gets halved to 2.5k, we, I feel like we’d cop the salary loss. Yeah, no one wants less print editions.

Honi Soit: So if an article was particularly controversial, how would you decide whether to upvote it? How will you navigate this sort of difficult decision making within the ticket? So this is something that might carry a heavy defamation risk, maybe it’s a 50/50 split on whether or not it should go up that kind of difficult interaction within the ticket.

Luke Mesterovic: Previous tickets have done systems where you need seven or eight members of the ticket to be on board in a particularly controversial thing. We haven’t had an entire caucus over it, but we would figure something out in that vein in terms of having kind of a super majority.

Katarina Butler: As well as also like consulting heavily with, you know, the legal team that we do have in the SRC, that would be key.

Honi Soit: Have you had discussions on the ticket about, for instance, how you might handle things, you have political disagreements over, for example, if one editor is particularly against publishing something, would you have veto powers?

Any thoughts about that?

Katarina Butler: I think we’d still stick to a majority rather than having veto powers. Mm-hmm um, especially if it’s something political rather than something, you know, vision wise.

Honi Soit: Have you had conversations about how you intend to distribute editors’ responsibilities? Do you have a plan for that?

Katarina Butler: We’ve had some discussion about how we’ll distribute sort of sections of the paper. Like I would focus on STEM since I study STEM, that kind of thing. Not too much further, but I think we probably aim to have similar amounts of people in our writers group as well as, you know, being open to moving people around, if they were to meet one of us, that clicked with more and were wanted to write different types of pieces.

But I think that we would definitely do that in line with, well, how many people do you have in your reporter group, but also how many people are you having to be in contact with every week in a reporter group.

Honi Soit: How do you see Honi coexisting with a revived Pulp?

Luke Mesterovic: We’ve chatted to Pulp. They’re quite busy right now, but we’re organizing a sit down just so we can clarify our different visions for the papers. So we’re not treading on each other’s toes. One thing, I mean, looking at, just from a, a print standpoint, Pulp is that glossy paper, right, which lends itself so much better to photography. We see ourselves more as a kind of, I guess, underground art paper, but they’re also, yeah…

Katarina Butler: Yeah. I think that they’re much more visual and we would be more…

Luke Mesterovic: Yeah we’re also more long form. They’re more short form. Yeah.

Honi Soit: One thing that Pulp was sort of set up to do by the USU was to do more culture writing. Do you see that as potentially stepping on your toes in terms of a more Bloom-like culture writing focus?

Katarina Butler: I honestly don’t think so. I think that one of the things that’s so amazing about Honi is that it does have so much student perspective and, you know, culture writing and more of that doesn’t scare me. Like if it’s coming from two places, I don’t think that’s, I don’t think that’s bad.

Luke Mesterovic: That’s a good problem to have.

Honi Soit: In comparison to previous years, a fairly high number of your members are involved in or aligned with political factions. Some of them quite different. So you’ve got people in Labor right, and people adjacent to SAlt. Have you had discussions about how you might potentially navigate those political differences or how you’ll manage potential conflict?

Luke Mesterovic: That’s mainly come down to us deciding having, again, a super majority, we haven’t decided on a specific number yet, but, um, some way in which that can balance out, I mean, I’m in Student Unity, but it, my personal political beliefs, I’m a Whitlamite, first and foremost, like Ben Chifley is probably who I identify most with on the political spectrum. Student Unity’s just got amazing, lovely people at USyd and I love them to death. Um, so yeah, I feel like, but amongst the ticket…

Katarina Butler: I think it’s, it’s similar enough that if there were to, if we were to need a super majority, that-

Luke Mesterovic: No one’s an outlier in terms of, politically, at least.

Honi Soit: There are like particular issues that presumably you do disagree on, for example, whether you should work with the Labor Party. Obviously you might out vote people, but I guess the question is more about how you would kind of manage a working relationship with them beyond just voting up or down one particular article.

The question is getting at like, if seven people vote to work with the Labor Party, this is just a theoretical thing, and three people vote against it. Those three people are gonna be pretty grumpy. So like managing that.

Katarina Butler: We’ve already put in place like grievance officer and yeah. Other structures, but definitely something we will chat about.

Luke Mesterovic: It’s also like, yeah, like putting the paper above personal politics, like I’m a member of the Labor Party…

Katarina Butler: But we’re also all editors of Honi Soit.

Luke Mesterovic: We think the party should be held to account when it does stupid stuff like supporting stage three tax cuts or something else like that.

Honi Soit: Let’s move on to some questions about engaging with reporters. So a few things, obviously reporters are busy living lives, you know, often aren’t super consistent. Do you have an idea of what you might do if, for example, a reporter regularly hands in articles late, or was to hand in an article that needed very significant edits?

Luke Mesterovic: We would hopefully know everybody personally, this is what we’re aiming to with our two or twice weekly meetings, get to know them on a personal level, see them regularly. And so you’d hope that with that personal connection, we’d set them down. We’d talk, go through it in the most polite, friendly, but also firm way possible because Honi is a serious commitment.

Katarina Butler: And I think that also with that, being understanding of the fact that obviously writers are unpaid. Yeah. And we are paid to chase them up. So kind of having that balance of being like, we can push this back, but like, you do have to hand in your writing at some point. And if you are gonna hand in something, that’s not up to scratch we can, you know, work on it, but it needs more work.

Luke Mesterovic: We’d be keen to speak to former editors regarding finding strategies for that.

Honi Soit: So you have quite a number of really great, but possibly ambitious policies for engaging reporters. So I just wanted to ask about them a little bit.

 So as you noted, then you are keen to know every reporter personally. Currently there’s about 250 people in the Honi reporter’s group. You also noted that you wanna do twice weekly meetings with the reporters- usually the Honi week looks like a three hour meeting, on a Tuesday, for us, doing a pitch meeting, Saturday and Sunday, working on layup. During the week, editing articles, doing your own articles and class, where do you intend to find time for those twice weekly meetings?

Luke Mesterovic: Yeah, our plan was to do the twice weekly meetings, each of them would be two hours long, roughly, hopefully catching people someone’s got a tute or a lecture. They can come to an hour of it at the worst, at the least. I personally will be deferring next sem, I know other people are doing…

Katarina Butler: Many people are going, most of us going part-time, which is really lucky to do, um, I think also, you know, having roster systems so that like not every editor is spending four hours. Like if someone’s, you know, editor in chief, maybe not.

Luke Mesterovic: We could break it into halves and editor goes to the one where their reporters will be at, et cetera. Yeah.

Honi Soit: I guess another question is obviously students are really busy and often not on campus. Do you envisage these twice weekly meetings being well attended or do you think that’s a commitment that might be quite difficult for a lot of students?

Luke Mesterovic: Students don’t have to come. It’s not gonna be a binding thing, to be a reporter, you have to come. But I know something that really stuck out to us in making this ticket was Eamonn Murphy was the only person I knew beforehand. We knew each other from each other’s writing, but we never met personally. And I think all of us would’ve jumped at the opportunity to meet each other more, again, like the drinks nights are great, but they’re so sporadic. And if you couldn’t make it then, and it’s like, yeah, exactly. It’s so hard to get it going. So this is something, a clear concrete policy that we can commit to. And if we fall short, it’s even easier for people to call us out on it.

Honi Soit: I guess a quick follow up question is, a pretty frequent thing I think that happens with Honi is that there are particular reporters who contribute more than others and who are more involved, which can lead to cliquey-ness and to, you know, editorial teams, favoring particular groups of people, with other people, not feeling like they have a huge ability to get involved. That’s obviously something which locks people out of the paper and is quite unfortunate. So do you have any plans about how to include reporters who might not feel comfortable coming to those meetings or might not be as actively involved as the people who show up?

Katarina Butler: Yeah. So like the quieter people, right?

Luke Mesterovic: A big thing we discussed, and this is related to this, is that first article, because the first article is such a shaping one. Right. And I’ve spoken to so many people this year, I’ve been saying, oh, get into Honi, you gotta write for Honi

And the thing they’ve always said is like, I’m so scared to write in my first article. Cause like that’s the thing, that’s the hurdle. Yeah. Um, so I guess. the one thing we’ve written down so far is that we really want to help make that first experience a positive one, even if that idea, if we’re being quite frank, even if it’s a bad idea, I’m like, okay, well, how can we fix this? How can we work? How can we help them find their voice?

Katarina Butler: Yeah. Approaching, you know, first pitch, first week. I mean, obviously you get flooded with pitches, hopefully in the first week, but approaching all of them with like a “yes and”, “yes, let’s work on this”. Yes. We’ll focus on this part of it. That kind of thing.

Honi Soit: As a follow up to that. Honi like, not every year, but certainly this year has pretty routinely received at least 10 more pitches than we could fit in the paper. And, obviously some of them necessarily have to be turned down. If you have a process of ‘yes and’, those carry on and you get an increasing surplus of potential articles. So have you thought about how you’re gonna deal with pitches that you really do just need to turn down?

Luke Mesterovic: We have discussed the possibility of doing online only articles. If the reporter consents to that. Again, if it is that situation where like, we do wanna find them, because if we knock them back and that’s their first experience, and then it’s so hard to get in. But obviously if they are set on being in the paper, we might say, well, how about next week? How about you come back having done this, and then we can work from there.

Honi Soit: But do you think it can be discouraging if people keep repitching something, but the article just, isn’t a good idea to begin with?

Luke Mesterovic: That can be hard and we’d be honest in that situation, but yeah.

Katarina Butler: But I think hopefully everyone has, everyone has something to say and you can hone in on one element of it or just say, ‘Hey, this is okay. But maybe, what about if you wrote about this instead?’ And like kind of prompting them to move in a different direction. Yeah.

Honi Soit: You note an interest in covering the NSW state elections. What will your approach be to that?

Katarina Butler: Uh, similar to this year, we’d love to do an election Honi and sort of build up the coverage, leading up to the state election.

Luke Mesterovic: Yeah. In relation specifically to higher ed and how that’ll affect students.

Honi Soit: Do you have any idea of what the politics of that paper would be like? Would you, for instance, be like suggesting that a particular election outcome is desirable?

Luke Mesterovic: We’d highlight, in a similar way, a big thing for us is explainers. That’s where we’re… in both like stupol, but also for NSW election, laying out each of the parties and making it perfectly clear what their policies are in higher ed and…

Katarina Butler: I think focusing, like talking about higher ed, but also just like, what is good for students? You know, the kind of policies that will affect students the most. We’d like to approach it in a sort of de- a little bit stepped back from like party politics, because I think…

Luke Mesterovic: I think Honi as a radical voice, shouldn’t really be endorsing a particular political candidate.

Katarina Butler: Definitely.

Luke Mesterovic: But I think they’re all a little bit right to, bit right of Honi.

Katarina Butler: Yeah. But definitely, you know, approaching from a left wing point of view.

Honi Soit: You also not in your policy statement, you’re gonna introduce a higher education section on the website. This currently exists as the university category. How will this new section be different?

Katarina Butler: Oh, so it would be more of like a compilation of the different, sort of policies that exist.

Luke Mesterovic: . So university at the moment also includes like, as I understand, like perspective pieces on uni?

Honi Soit: No. So that’s campus. So campus is like USyd centric, kind of perspective and culture stuff. And then university is like university news, higher ed news.

Katarina Butler: Yeah. This got born out of an idea to create like an enterprise price bargaining portal as well. Sort of following much more analytically. Just sort of in all in one place, rather than, you know, things that are happening week to week, but compiling, you know, policies…

Luke Mesterovic: How bargaining’s going in other universities.

Honi Soit: So what does that look like beyond like just a section on the website?

Luke Mesterovic: Yeah, I think that that policy was worded pretty poorly. If I’m gonna be perfectly honest. And this is Luke Cass’s brainchild. It’s the idea of having this, um, updating, like, daily updated…

Honi Soit: So like a live blog type of thing?

Luke Mesterovic: Yeah. Yeah. Essentially.

Katarina Butler: The same way with the Guardian cause it does the live blogs of ongoing…

Honi Soit: So like, I suppose maybe the way the Guardian did a coronavirus live blog in the early stages of the pandemic. .

So you flagged a number of changes obviously that you wanna make to the only website, which is labyrinthine in the extreme. Do you guys have the web design experience to deliver on that promise?

Katarina Butler: Veronica lenard.

Luke Mesterovic: Veronica, we’re leaning heavily on yeah. An absolute whiz, she’s already found some plugins relating to searching by name. We’ll give them a go, see how we go, but…

Katarina Butler: She, she works in IT, so we’re very confident and pretty..

Luke Mesterovic: Grateful.

Katarina Butler: Grateful. That’s the one.

Honi Soit: Good to hear. Obviously a big part of Honi, I guess, particularly in comparison to the mandate that Pulp’s got set up for them, is to cover stupol, so firstly, how do you plan to cover stupol?

And then secondly, do you have the institutional knowledge to do it?

Katarina Butler: Yeah, so I love the, the live tweeting, live Instagramming of SRC, I think it adds uh, a good amount of like gravity to the situation.

Luke Mesterovic: Yeah. Um, a big thing for us would be like stupol explainer stuff. So you guys did like the Cluedo-esque one this year. That’s great. But it’s also like, we’d like to have a spot for that on the masthead. Just so it’s easier for people to find, because I find like at the moment, even when I’ll tell people, oh, this and this happened, like when, for an example, it says Switch and someone’s affiliation, have a link there. And it goes to that page just to make it more accessible. Cause information’s already there. Exactly. Just make it as clear as possible.

Katarina Butler: And do we have the institutional knowledge?

Luke Mesterovic: Um, we don’t have as many ex student politicians on our ticket as many other ones have. I’ve got a sporadic knowledge from being in the faction and going to most SRC meetings this year. Misbah Ansari served as an ethnocultural officer. Eamonn’s welfare. So we do believe we do the institutional knowledge and whatever, wherever we have fallen short in the quiz, we have three months to prepare for Natcon.

Katarina Butler: And that’ll be a baptism of fire.

Honi Soit: Do you have any like, in terms of that three months, have you planned out like what you’re gonna do, how you’re gonna distribute that responsibility? Cause I think, you know, even on tickets with maybe more stupol people, there’s often quite a disparate level of knowledge across the ticket. So have you got an idea on how you’ll upskill across the ticket or what that will look like?

Luke Mesterovic: Haven’t discussed that, to be honest. Yeah. We’re focusing on this before we start focusing on… yeah.

Katarina Butler: Maybe a bit shortsighted… since we were, you know…

Luke Mesterovic: That’s something to discuss, but yeah…

Katarina Butler: Absolutely, make a time table. Quizzes, planner.

Honi Soit: A sizeable chunk of your news coverage has been protests and without Luke Cass’s contributions, you only have four news articles that are not protests between the nine of you. Six of you have never written non-protest news. Your policy statement points frequently to your news writing experience, but thus far, you haven’t shown much interest in proactive news as a ticket outside of just Luke. How can Honi readers trust you to fulfill your election promise of news writing?

Luke Mesterovic: Yeah, Christine’s written a fair bit of news.

Honi Soit: Yeah. I think what we’re getting at is protest news, although great and important, kind of comes from prompts and is quite formulaic and often editors support reporters in that quite closely. Looking at more proactive news writing of which, the other nine of you have only done four news articles altogether.

Katarina Butler: Yeah. I think it’ll be an important part of, you know, our hand over and, as we start, building up, networks through which we can get, news opportunities, you know, reaching out to other universities and SRCs, as well as, working hopefully closely with activists. I think that will definitely like, obviously something you need to build on.

Luke Mesterovic: Cause Luke Cass is our news guy and, when we’re discussing editorial divvying up, Luke will be front and centre with news. But I think it would be be best for us to write some news in the meantime as well. Yeah. Although one thing we are keen on is like, especially with new writers, cuz so much of the news is written by editors, finding a way to bring new writers on board to be involved in that as well. Even if it’s in a co-writing capacity.

Honi Soit: Yeah. That’s super important. I guess just as a note, like a lot of news, in order to break it, is quite speedy. So do you guys have a plan about how you do that or navigate that?

Luke Mesterovic: We’ll have a group chat full of people, have a Facebook chat, Facebook page much in the way Honi does now, relating to news and say ‘for today, anybody willing to co-write an article about this’ and they’ll send information, do it together. I think co-writing would be a great way to get people, the news, basics and foundations, and then hopefully they can find their own leads.

Katarina Butler: But I think also like, obviously recently there’s been a lot of breaking news that’s come straight out of Honi and it’s gone then from Honi to like SMH and stuff. And I think that that needs, in those situations where, the stuff unfolding on campus, has to be, ‘oh my God, I’m at this thing. I’m gonna write about it’. As editors, we have to be sort of on the ground as well.

Luke Mesterovic: Yeah. A hundred percent.

Honi Soit: This year, Honi moved pitch meetings half a week earlier to give writers more time to write. Do you plan to continue this schedule?

Luke Mesterovic: I like the schedule. Yeah. It’s good.

Katarina Butler: Gives more time for us to follow up as well.

Honi Soit: Do you plan to continue the weekly STEM and environment section?

Katarina Butler: Yeah, I’d love to.

Honi Soit: That section does take a bit more proactive effort to fill because it’s kind of hard to write STEM news. Oftentimes, it’s not just opinions that you’re chucking out there in the world. Have you got a plan as to how you’re gonna source those articles to fill that section?

Katarina Butler: Yeah, I think that, there were really good prompt lists this year for STEM articles. I think that those were important in just showing students who are interested in writing for STEM but there is STEM news and like it is kind of interesting and exciting, especially stuff like terms of James Webb Space Telescope and all these like exciting developments. I think that that is really key in just getting stuff into the paper and then like myself, I started off just filling prompts and then I was like, well, what about this really cool thing?

And I think that gives, provides confidence as well.

Luke Mesterovic: Well, something we mentioned without twice weekly meetings, one would be at PNR. And so hopefully we get engineering, STEM students walking around and seeing that huddle of people by a table and then wanting to be involved.

Honi Soit: In your policy statement, you note a desire to revive Indigenous Honi. Given that’s an autonomous publication, meaning it’s made by the Collective, how will you do that? If the collective is inactive?

Luke Mesterovic: We recognize that there hasn’t been a Convenor, Officer for that position recently. So we wanted to make sure that now, with that position filled for this term, at least we’ll wait and see after RepsElect how that looks, that it does happen and that we can do whatever we can to accommodate that.

Katarina Butler: This was really a brainchild of Ethan Floyd, who in his capacity as Editor and as a First Nations person, really wants to see Indigenous Honi come back. And I think he really wants to support, whoever ends up, hopefully, in that position, to make it happen.

Honi Soit: Many of your policies have either been seen in previous years or set out to continue things that are sort of standard practice in Honi or were before COVID, things like an awards night, that sort of thing. What sets you apart from previous tickets, if a lot of your policy sort of sets out to do more of what previous tickets have done?

Luke Mesterovic: Mm-hmm. I think that twice weekly meetings, probably the most ambitious thing we have. And I think that’s our real way of trying to find a method of a breaking out from the current clique as much as we can.

There always will be an Honi clique but, um, Yeah, I think there’s nothing wrong with being conventional. I mean, there’s a lot of good ideas and we think they should be carried on.

Katarina Butler: Yeah, there’s a lot of good stuff going on. That’s why we love Honi, that’s why we want to edit it.

Honi Soit: You suggested your policy statement that you want critical review coverage. What does this look like? And given that previous critical coverage of amateur performance has been pretty damaging to the relationship between Honi and the performing arts community, do you think that that is a potential threat?

Katarina Butler: Yeah, I think, um, absolutely there’s been reviews that have really been like…

Luke Mesterovic: I think as editors, if a review gets written, that is unnecessarily unfair and I’m referring to a specific one written by Daany Saeed in 2021. I don’t think that should be published. At the same time, we do believe, fostering review culture that does offer, like nobody who’s involved in a review or a SUDS production wants a show to just be blanket, ‘this happened, this happened, this happened, this happened.’ We believe everybody gets better from a genuine engagement with student culture, the student performing arts, and so a critical review is constructive criticism, nice criticism, not an elite hoity-toity smack down of the very hard work of the people involved.

Katarina Butler: There have been some good reviews recently. And I think that those ones, sort of give credit where credit’s due as well as questioning why things have, you know, been done a certain way or, pointing out potential like flaws without talking down on people.

Cause ultimately it’s a student performance, the Honi review serves a specific purpose. And that’s not to be the number one opinion on a piece of theatre or production. It’s to sort of engage with performing arts at USyd as well as, um, encourage people to get involved or see something, that kind of thing.

Honi Soit: So I guess, maybe just worth noting that a fairly common review coverage policy of previous tickets has been to, at least for amateur student performance, to be, try to encourage people just to attend. So in terms of like, if that conflicts with the kind of critical vision, which of those two things is more important?

Luke Mesterovic: Encouragement, being nice.

Honi Soit: On that reviews note, one of the people on your ticket, Ethan, recently wrote a review of Arts Revue that was Daany Saeed-esque in its level of criticality. Obviously you probably haven’t seen the unedited review, but suffice it to say that it was quite, quite critical. And in particular critiqued, some things about the review that like just are facets of sketch comedy, for example, that there wasn’t a throughline running through all sketches, which is just a part of revues. I guess my question is, is this something that you talked about as a ticket prior to that? Have you kind of had a discussion about that article as a ticket since?

Luke Mesterovic: We’ve had discussion pre and post that article, um, our view is that yeah. There are definitely segments that we believe should have been more edited before it went up because, uh, one line in particular, yeah. The ‘POC Revue walked so Arts Revue could run.’ I think that just gave off the wrong impression. It was a, not malicious. It just poorly worded, it is just poorly worded.

Katarina Butler: It didn’t express his actual .What he was actually trying to say was there was no throughline.

Luke Mesterovic: Ended up being quite problematic and detracted from the rest of the review, which is, which was a shame.

Honi Soit: Does that mean that like within the ticket, you came to a conclusion that future reviews would be quite different to that one originally was?

Luke Mesterovic: Yeah. Yeah.

Honi Soit: So your policy statement argues that Honi should branch out from its core Arts/Law, stupol demographic. How do you plan to action this particularly given that besides one Arts/Science student, your ticket is entirely comprised of Arts or Arts/Law students?

Katarina Butler: I’m the STEM guy, I think as a facet of trying to engage more with the student community that includes, definitely STEM students. And I think that, you know, hosting things on the kind of STEM, PNR side of campus helps. But I think also just creating a community around Honi, which is sort of inviting and like people can be more approachable, I think definitely breeds like, STEM participation, breeds all participation, which is essential.

Honi Soit: Some of the people on your ticket recently argued that Honi should not publish videos of police brutality towards protestors if it could potentially be used in a legal case against the protestors. Given this is a pretty substantial departure from coverage of protests in previous years, in particular, the 2020, education protests, can you justify this perspective and is this a perspective of the ticket as a whole?

Luke Mesterovic: That is not a perspective of the ticket as a whole. So what happened in that particular instance at the AFR summit, was that there was somebody who was arrested, who didn’t consent to having their view being taken up, we agree with the point you made Roi, yeah, we do think as Honi, as a radical student paper, we have an obligation to publicize that, but in that particular instance where somebody was arrested, we do believe, they probably should have been consulted or, at the very least, face blurred out. Yeah. So the police brutality could still have been shown…

In cases where people aren’t arrested, we’d be more willing to put it back up. That particular moment, the insinuation, it was being done on behalf of a faction as opposed to Christine’s actual concern was what prompted that discussion.

Honi Soit: As a follow up, like several people in our ticket had 30 minute phone calls of SAlt yelling at us, which I think suggests that, it is somewhat factional, like there’s a particular set of people and to be clear, SAlt was also asking us to remove all videos of SAlt members. So yeah, I think it sort of just is true that that was a factional thing. Not necessarily from Christine, but certainly a particular faction asking not to be portrayed in video.

So is that something that, if you were receiving that sort of pressure from Socialist Alternative next year, is that something you’d agree to or concede to?

Katarina Butler: I think the key thing is putting students first to a point, protraying what is actually happening. But I think that a step that we could have taken was to anonymize people, um, and also hopefully try and connect them with legal services so that they understand the implications of having their videos published in Honi and what that may or may not, um, contribute to any legal action.

Luke Mesterovic: Our unanimous decision was making sure that student is aware of their rights and legal service and if some discussion can’t be made, if they’re not willing to have themselves up, we will anonymize that person with a face blur or something.

Honi Soit: So generally the legal understanding that news writers and news reporters, sort of run off with covering police violence, is that it’s important to democratize that sort of footage in order to support the person being arrested, because it gives an opportunity for public scrutiny on the police officer’s violence. There’s almost no instances that we were pointed to in legal conversations, which would suggest it would be in any way bad for the protestor to have that video on the internet. If you are editing Honi and you have that information, but there is someone, a stakeholder in Honi asking you to remove the video, would you run with the legal advice or with the stakeholder’s opinion?

Katarina Butler: The legal advice. We’d run with the legal advice. And we’d, we’d definitely communicate that to them. And like, make sure that they understand like, it’s actually probably ultimately good that this video is published.

Honi Soit: Obviously, in this instance, we knew who the person in question was, but in many protests, our coverage might be live and it also might be someone who you don’t know and have no means of contacting, particularly if they’ve been arrested. Do you have any perspective on how people should be covering that sort of protest?

Luke Mesterovic: Um, could you repeat the question?

Honi Soit: So, lots of the time you don’t actually know who the person is. And you might be covering it live, which means you don’t have a lot of control over what parts of footage get broadcasted. Given that, obviously there’s a risk that some people have their video on the internet without having consented to it. Would you publish that video?

Luke Mesterovic: We would still publish it. And then in the situation, again, if it was that particular moment, especially if somebody, hypothetical situation, first time at a rally, face is all over this thing, that’s gone out, them getting arrested, we’d inform them of legal advice, but I guess, it was more of a, that particular scenario, where we just want to involve, make sure that everybody was clear in terms of what was going on.

Honi Soit: Do you have any thoughts on how you’ll approach running Honi social media?

Luke Mesterovic: Yes, we actually did. I like it as it is, but we want to do more reels. So like the Guardian, Matilda Bosley, those explainer stuff. We wanna do that from like each of the factions and other like, what is the NTEU, how does enterprise bargaining, work stuff like that?

Katarina Butler: I think it’s quite labor intensive, but we’re hoping that we will do it, you know, sort of before we…

Luke Mesterovic: We wanna do it on the summer break.

Honi Soit: Do you have any, general ideas about how to increase reach, or would you be wanting to keep things like the Instagram looking pretty similar?

Luke Mesterovic: Yeah, Instagram would, yeah. Just include more. We’re interested in expanding like comedy as well. Mainly through a multimedia presence, still keeping on the back page.

Katarina Butler: Absolutely. And you know, having Instagram, I think, as it is now.

Honi Soit: So you’ll keep the tiles rather than just posting like art and stuff like previous years?

Luke Mesterovic: Yeah. Tiles are good, for like article highlights, we think they’re nice.

Honi Soit: Have you had a discussion about how you’ll distribute social media running responsibilities? Cause obviously that is like a pretty big time sink for Honi editors.

Luke Mesterovic: Yes, it is a big thing. No, we have not had particular discussion pertaining to social media.

Katarina Butler: Give us a list and we’ll have all these discussions.

Honi Soit: Any final words for students?

Luke Mesterovic: Pick up Honi Soit next time you’re walking through uni.