Alaynia Winter

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Reporting and writing about refugees throughout this semester has been eye opening in many ways. It has been both challenging and rewarding to be made aware of perspectives different from the mainstream. 

Initially I expected this beat to be easier. I underestimated my resources and how much time it would take to really find sources and build relationships with interviewees. Doing an in-depth piece on an individual or family was effectively impossible because of policies within organizations regarding privacy and possible invasiveness.

I have learned an appreciable amount about my own personal ethics in my journalistic endeavors. I have found I don’t enjoy exploitation pieces and the practice of asking refugees fleeing war and violence to perform their trauma for readers, unless there’s some sort of call to action or way to be a part of the solution.

I did encounter an ethical problem when I had a member of a panel I attended speak to me in private about her experiences within her organization and personal life and I wanted to include it in my story, but ultimately decided to leave it out for respect for her privacy.

I better understand now the importance, and difficulty, of establishing trust when interviewing. I struggled to justify attempting to interview or photograph anyone but a representative of an organization because it felt disingenuous to only reach out to a refugee for their story as a reporter and not have any basis or relationship established.

I had the opportunity to interview many individuals, but the people at the Refugee Services Office were particularly impactful to me. Gerald Brown, Halima Hussein and Alexx Goeller are each particularly inspiring in their own respects. These are people who are passionate about their jobs and work very hard every day to accomplish their goals of empowering others. I was encouraged by them and their devotion as they spoke to me about struggles refugees face and their hopes and dreams for the future.

As a result of my reporting this semester, I did make a vow that when I graduate college I will enroll in a volunteer program and be more involved in the refugee community here in Utah.  This is an amazing class and I would recommend this beat and Voices of Utah to all students who want to pursue the field of investigative reporting.

This beat has been a connecting strand between civic responsibility and reporting for me. Through these interviews and research, I have discovered community programs and included links to resources and information in my stories and hopefully became a catalyst for others in our community to be involved as well.  

ABOUT ME: 

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Alaynia Winter ’18 is from Salt Lake City, Utah. Alaynia graduated from University of Utah with a B.A. in Communication. Alaynia currently holds an internship at KUED Channel 7 in the Department of Digital Media. She has written published stories as a staff writer for University of Utah’s Wasatch Magazine, as well as for Voices of Utah and KUED’s web series Modern Gardener.  She has worked as a freelance photographer since 2013 and currently takes photographs for KUED’s The Hinckley Report. After graduating, Alaynia plans to spend the summer in Spain completing a language immersion study abroad program.