George W. Kounalis



My initial expectation for covering the Pacific Islander community in Salt Lake City was that it would be a challenge. I knew nobody involved with the Pacific Islander community prior to the start of this semester. From the get-go, I knew I wanted to tackle a tougher topic to start off with.

When Susi Feltch-Malohifo’ou came to our class as our first interview, I began making connections to a few individuals in the state’s Pacific Islander community. From that first interview, I learned a lot about the different cultures across the Pacific Islander community in Utah, and I felt that made it easier for me to come up with story ideas.

My first story tackled the intersectionality of being a prison inmate and a minority in the state of Utah and what resources are provided. By looking at an issue like this, I saw how important a role family plays for many Pacific Islanders.

I struggled remaining objective with this story. Learning about how the corrections system worked and reading some of the information dug up by the Deseret News made it hard to close off the story while remaining objective. By finding out Washington state has a group for Pacific Islander and Asian American males and helping them adjust to life after prison, I was able to report that without injecting my personal opinions about the current state of the corrections system.

After this story, I wanted to look at something local to campus. I covered the Pacific Islander Student Association at the University of Utah and took a look at what it offered the University community and saw the group’s passion for service.

My final story was a topic that is universal but can reveal a culture’s story, food. I covered Moki’s Hawaiian Grill and the dishes served and learned quite a bit about Hawaiian history that can be told through Hawaiian food.

The most important lesson I learned this semester is how family is the cornerstone of the Pacific Islander community and how it has a bigger meaning than the western meaning of the word. Learning this was very important for me and made me able to look at my own local community as my own family.

Reporting on this beat enabled me to learn more about the Pacific Islander community as a whole and the issues that people face as well as the customs and traditions that I did not know about. As stated earlier, family is the cornerstone of many Pacific Islander cultures and getting to learn that and see it in action was something that really hit me on a personal level. In a world that seems to get more chaotic by the minute, getting to cover a beat like this allowed me to take a more humanistic approach on community issues. Covering a local minority group like the Pacific Islander Community taught me a lot while writing these stories.



My past work experience has included the University of Utah Campus Store, K-UTE Radio, Apple, and Kumon. I started working at 14 and have never taken a sick day. I am currently the lead student IT specialist at the Campus Store, as well as the producer for the Crimson Venue, Echoplex, and Sunday Hub at K-UTE radio.

I graduated in May 2018, majoring in communication at the University of Utah. During my time at the U, I learned that I have a love for hearing people’s stories and had a desire to do so. Choosing the major I did let me learn and hone the skills to be an effective storyteller.

When I’m not in class, at work, managing my DJs or doing homework, I like collecting records, playing my guitar, watching movies, watching the Cubs, and collecting geek fandom memorabilia. My passion for geek culture has allowed me to meet Weird Al, Jess Harnell, and Charlie Adler. My passion for music has allowed me to meet King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Kodie Shane, and DJ Nixbeat of Salt Lake City (one of the few DJs who spin just vinyl records in Salt Lake!).

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