Anthony Scoma

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When we began coverage of a Pacific Islander beat, I was genuinely excited to learn more about a community that is rarely highlighted by Utah news sources. However, at the same time, I was also worried that my story ideas and reporting would be severely limited by my lack of expertise and knowledge of Pacific Island culture.

Over the course of interviewing, researching and writing I realized that my worry was based on an egotistical approach to journalism. Any journalist worth their word count doesn’t have to be a cultural expert to find a newsworthy story, listen to those involved and report useful information on a community. To achieve this, a journalist must only approach their beat with an open mind and a critical eye.

The importance of journalism doesn’t come from its difficulty but rather from the significance that sharing stories holds for how humans relate to the world around them and how communities share their culture. The role of the journalist is simply to see that this communication is accurate and fair.

During my own exercise in intercultural communication, I was drawn again and again to the topic of cultural norms, beliefs and customs within the Pacific Islander community. By learning about how others live, I was shown what I take for granted as “normal” from my perspective. By decentering my experiences, I gained greater insight into who I am, what I believe and how I relate to my own community.

I also realized how much connected me and those I interviewed. As the youngest of a family of 11 kids, I could relate to the Pacific Islander emphasis on the importance of family. As a former member of the LDS church, I felt a personal connection to my interviewees’ experience both inside and outside the religious culture of the Mormon church. But, even those experiences that I could not relate to still acted as a prism to view my own life, breaking them apart into the multifaceted aspects that color how I see the world.

All of the insight and enhanced perspective I gained through the process of writing for Voices of Utah was just an added benefit to the simple pleasure of a good conversation with someone new. The way stories connect us all also reminds me of something else I learned while covering our beat.

I was told by several of my interviewees about how important establishing connections between people is for Pacific Islander culture. When there is not a connection through genealogy —  which is often figured out upon first meeting — there is a connection through the shared history of the community and land around you.

This understanding of connection resonated with me as a journalist covering just one community among the many that can be found in Utah. Regardless of how similar or different communities may appear from a distance, by mere physical proximity we share so much. The scenery, weather, air quality, traffic, government, schools, seasons, news and dominant culture — whether you practice it or not — defines the shared experience of what it means to live in Utah. And whether you love or hate those experiences, it is still something that binds us all together.

ABOUT ME:

Me

Anthony is a journalism and political science student at the University of Utah. Specializing in audio journalism, Anthony has worked as the producer of podcasts at the U’s student media radio station, K-UTE, since Spring 2017. In addition to helping produce all of K-UTE’s podcasts, he also hosts the station’s interview podcast, The Rostrum, and has interviewed prominent alumni, professors, students and guests at the University of Utah.

In Fall 2017, Anthony worked as the intern for KUER’s flagship program, RadioWest. He has also worked at KCPW in Salt Lake City as an intern, assistant producer and on-air pledge drive pitcher since 2016. In the Summer of 2018, Anthony will intern with the Global Editors Network in Paris, France.

Anthony is from Mapleton, Utah, and is the youngest of 11 children. He enjoys camping and driving through southern Utah. Anthony hopes to continue to work in audio and print journalism and aspires to work for “This American Life” and eventually host his own radio program.