Talon Chappell



This past semester has been far more rigorous and daunting than I had ever anticipated. I thought that being the casual newspaper reader would prepare me to be able to write and report with the knowledge and skills of an actual journalist. I learned quickly that there is much more to reporting than finding something interesting and spewing out the facts.

Accuracy, good questions, accuracy, good note taking, accuracy, people skills, accuracy, objectivity, accuracy, writing skills and accuracy are just some of the tools I gained or sharpened during this semester. I also learned that editing is far more valuable and crucial than I had ever thought before. In high school, I would spew out my work, giving it one half-hearted glance for minor spelling or punctuational mistakes, and turn it in thinking it was worthy of being published. That bubble was quickly and unceremoniously popped. I now view my work for spelling and grammatical mistakes, improper word usage, word repetition and non-flowing paragraphs, just to name a few.

I have been at the U for almost three years now, and although I lived in Layton, I thought that I knew a lot about the culture of Salt Lake City. To a point, I did know a lot about the culture of Salt Lake City, the white culture. Until this semester, I had never ventured to explore the African-American culture that, while small, is growing in exposure. I learned that many of Salt Lake’s African-American residents come from a variety of backgrounds and are usually from outside of the state. Many of them come to Utah in search of a better job market, better housing situations, and better quality of living than where they come from. I also learned that there are some serious adjustments they have to make to thrive in the plain yogurt bowl known as Utah. The African-Americans who move here vary from the hard-working factory stiff, to the bright-eyed entrepreneur and everything in between. Without this class, I probably never would have met some of these great, hard-working people or been to some of their outstanding new businesses.

Covering this beat made me realize that even in a relatively homogenous place like Utah, there is a variety of vibrant and growing cultures and subcultures just begging to be explored by the willing writer. Sure, I could stick with what I know and continue to write stories on people just like me, but now I want to do more, I want to see new things and meet new people whose values and experiences differ from my own.


Sports are my true passion in life. Playing, watching, analyzing and commentating are what I love to do. Late into puberty, when I realized I wasn’t going to fit the body type of the traditional professional athlete, I gave up on playing for a career, but I knew that sports would still be a part of my professional life. Watching SportsCenter on ESPN nearly four hours a day,  I grew to admire the work of sports analysts like Mike Wilbon, Tony Kornheiser, Hannah Storm, Stuart Scott and Scott Van Pelt. I knew that I wanted to talk and analyze sports for a living, but getting to ESPN is a tall order to fill. Many of these reporters worked their way up from newspapers, to magazines, to blogs, to radio, then up to television. So I decided to begin my climb up the media ladder by committing to the mass communication major here at the U.

I have always been fascinated with words. As a kid I would always ask my parents and teachers what the definitions of words were. Even today, I sometimes challenge myself to use sentences with uncommon or complicated words or vernacular. My love of wordplay and convoluted words naturally led me to writing. Writing is a cruel beast, but attempting to tame the written word is the underlying dream of every writer. My hands get sore, my posterior gets numb and my brain goes dead, but the rush of a good piece is so worth it.

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” — Vince Lombardi

I have the will and determination to climb the steep hill that is becoming a successful journalist. Much like a professional athlete, I don’t like to lose. I take that same mentality into all facets of my life, including my work. I want to be considered one of the best by my peers and by my readers. I want future generations of young sportswriters to look at one of my pieces or quotes and say, “That’s what I want to do. I want to sound like that guy.”

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