Shannon O’Connor



At the beginning of the semester I found myself wanting to write about topics that I was familiar with. It made me feel comfortable and I knew it would be the safe way to go. Kimberley Mangun pushed us to go out into the community and discover a story that will take us out of our comfort zones.

I did just that. One day I was Shannon Picturedriving around downtown Salt Lake City and was searching for inspiration for the local business beat. I drove past a sweet and frail looking old man holding up a cardboard sign that read, “65 year old vet, homeless and disabled, please help, god bless and thank you!” I thought about how many times I see the homeless and keep driving and don’t look back, but this time was different. I pulled over in a parking lot, grabbed my pad of paper, pen and a few dollars. I approached the man, Francis Reeding, and started conversing. Reeding was timid at first but it didn’t take him long to open up to me. He gave me the impression he was starving for interaction and for someone to have sympathy for him. Interviewing Reeding was one of my highlights this semester and it was the inspiration I needed.

From that point, I researched the biggest homeless shelter in Utah, The Road Home, and interviewed the development director. When I drove up to The Road Home it was a little overwhelming. There were numerous homeless men, women and families surrounding the premises. It was my first time inside a homeless shelter and it’s a memory I will never forget. They gave me a tour of the sleeping quarters, kitchen, donation section and the children’s play room. The shelter has concrete walls, concrete floors, rows and rows of bunk beds, and it is packed with people. I thought to myself, “How could people live like this?” Then I kicked myself because it’s places like the Road Home that get people off of the street and into shelter with food to eat and a bed to sleep in. A lot of the people were very friendly and wanting to converse. It was a humbling experience and I have a new respect and understanding for homeless shelter employees and the homeless.

This experience validated why I have a passion for reporting and interviewing people. It helped me realize that there are so many stories to be told right here in our community. Also, I’m braver than I thought and I’m confident I can cover stories from diverse groups of people. Everyone goes through the roller coaster of life and it would be silly to limit myself to my own path and not learn about others. There’s so much to learn from the people in our communities, and all it takes is for someone to ask. I can’t wait for the next adventure!


Shannon is the name, and my mom named me after the woman in the movie “Far and Away.” I was born and raised in Southern California and made my way to Utah right after I graduated high school in 2011. I wanted to live on my own, start fresh, and have a change of pace. I thought Utah would be a great place for me to start a new chapter in my life as an official adult.

I was involved in acting and dance throughout my childhood and I have always loved being in front of the camera. Broadcasting became an interest of mine my junior year of high school because I was an anchor for the morning announcements called, “Canyon High On-Air.” I don’t mean to brag, but I was a hit on our little news show. That’s when I knew I wanted to major in communication, broadcasting and journalism.

I started attending the University of Utah in 2013 and the more courses I take, and experience I get, the more I fall in love with this major. My mom is an enormous influence in my life and she always tells me, “Remember who you are and what you stand for.” That is important in reporting and journalism because I am my own brand and I need to represent someone I can be proud of. I’m taking steps in the right direction by interning for the morning talk show “Good Things Utah” and discovering what my next move will be! Everyone says television is a tough industry. But someone has to make it, so why can’t that someone be me?

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