Podcast host and lawyer Katie Barlow reflects on her time in SPIA

By: Rachael Andrews

SPIA alumna Katie Barlow (BA ‘11) graduated from UGA with a double major in political science and broadcast journalism. After completing a law degree at Georgetown University (JD ‘14), Barlow pivoted back towards journalism–a field that held her interest since her undergraduate career at UGA. 

Barlow received some advice that if she wanted to get into journalism, she needed to create content. As a journalist, Barlow covered Capitol Hill, including Justice Elena Kagan’s confirmation, as well as the Supreme Court with NPR’s Nina Totenberg. As a lawyer, her practice includes civil litigation and white-collar defense with a focus on the Anti-Terrorism Act. 

That’s when she became the co-founder and editor of DC Circuit Breaker, which provides news and analysis on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. When that endeavor caught the attention of a producer, Barlow was offered the opportunity of filling in the seat of podcast host with Words Matter Media. 

Words Matter Media is a media company that focuses on analyzing and contextualizing current American politics. With hosts that have served in politics, government, and media, the company gives them a platform to explain recent events and place them in historic context. Recent guests on the podcast include political leader and activist Stacey Abrams, president of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass, and senior advisor to former President Bill Clinton Doug Sosnik.

“The most surprising part [of hosting Words Matter is] the audience. They’re so engaged every week,” Barlow says. “No matter who the guest is: Chairman Adam Schiff or academics, the audience is engaged, no matter if the guest is well-known or not.” 

“There is a hunger for the news and current events to be contextualized,” Barlow emphasizes. 

Barlow and her fellow hosts choose guests based on current events, and those who have interesting stories to tell and experiences that can provide insight on what’s happening in the world.

Barlow has had many guests with exciting backgrounds. One such guest, Dr. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, wrote a book on the statistical aspect of cyberattacks during the 2016 election. Dr. Jamieson had very precise data and was able to break down the impact of those cyberattacks for the audience.

“I just remember being blown away by her,” Barlow reflects. 

As president of the student body in her junior year, Barlow maintains that her time at UGA prepared her for both the political world and the journalism world. 

Barlow worked in Washington, DC for the Institute of Political Journalism. There, she covered Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s appointment. “I wouldn’t have gotten that opportunity without SPIA and the connections I made there,” Barlow says. 

“The network that SPIA has all over the world, and in DC, has been a real asset to me,” Barlow says.

“It feels like home–personally and professionally–and gives us [alumni] shared values and shared experiences.” 

She has also done legal commentary for MSNBC thanks to the connection that came from a friend who also went to UGA.

Barlow has some advice for current UGA students and recent graduates. “Reach out to the SPIA network,” she says. “[Also] anyone is encouraged to reach out to me personally and ask for advice–I benefited a lot from individual advice from people in the SPIA network.”