Catie Quigley

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While reporting this beat, I consistently felt like an outsider, which was ironic as I was writing about the stories of people who are constantly made to be outsiders by society.

I am a white, privileged woman who has never had to personally deal with any sort of systemic barriers. Almost everyone that I spoke with for my stories was a person of color whose life was at least partially shaped by the color of their skin.

In school and work and nature and essentially anywhere else in Utah, I can fit right in, but as I interviewed Victoria, Javier, and Jonny from Latino Outdoors, I felt how they do in most social situations here.

For the sake of convenience, we decided that it would work best if I interviewed all of them at the same time. This strategy ended up being a fantastic way for them to share their stories, and they encouraged each other to share things that I never would have even thought to ask.

It seems inconsequential compared to the sense of being an outsider in almost all aspects of life, but this experience did give me an idea of that sense of being “other.” They were able to speak with each other in a more comfortable manner, and occasionally would say a phrase in Spanish that I did not understand, but that they did among each other.

When Victoria talked about changing the pronunciation of her name to make it easier for English speakers, I especially understood that I was different. Despite having a minor in Spanish, I still couldn’t pronounce her name the same way that the others did, though I did try.

And I think that is the key: to just do your best, to be respectful. Through this whole process, every glimpse into a new space that I have had was met with welcome and a willingness to have a conversation, even though I looked different and had a different background. Overwhelmingly, it seems like most people want to create a better world, no matter our differences.

This experience has been incredibly eye opening for so many reasons. For my first enterprise story pitch, I actually wanted to write about discrepancies between marijuana arrests and prosecution in white versus Black communities. I found interviews with a lawyer and a member of the Racial Equity in Policing Commission for Salt Lake City, but I wanted to form my article around the story of someone who had actually faced discrimination from police.

As I asked around, almost every person of color that I talked to knew someone who had been in this situation, but I ran into a wall when I asked them to share their stories with me, a white member of the press. As I researched the history of discrimination against Black people from police, but also the press, this hesitancy to speak with me made more sense, while also highlighting a bigger issue.

Because of this experience, I decided to write my second story about the mistrust that Black people hold toward the media. The stories that I heard during that process of research really opened my eyes to the way that media shape public perception of racial issues, or any issues.

It hit me that journalists have an enormous responsibility to not only be accurate in the stories they share, but also to seek out stories of those groups that they are not necessarily a part of. Especially since the majority of reporters are white, they tend to focus on stories that are relevant to white people because that is what is comfortable, and that must change.

This was a large part of why I came to the conclusion that I am not sure if I want to pursue journalism as a career, despite it being my goal for the last decade.

I felt like I involuntarily took on a sort of “white savior” role as I wrote about racial issues. These are absolutely necessary stories to be told, but I feel that no matter how respectful and accurate I am, it is not my story to tell, and I would rather be able to support journalists of color who can tell their own stories with a more authentic voice than I can.

The biggest problem that I have had was that I researched issues and heard people’s stories about heartbreaking issues such as homelessness, racial discrimination, and gentrification. I have written about them, but between school, work, and an internship, I have not had the time to actually go out to do anything substantial to help these people, and that breaks my heart.

Finally, I realized that in order to achieve a work-life balance, I cannot do a job that will require 12-plus-hour days five or six days a week on top of having to often work at odd hours with an unpredictable schedule. I need some sort of separation between work and just having time to take care of myself.

ABOUT ME:

I am a third-year student of Journalism and International Studies at the University of Utah. I am also minoring in Spanish. I am currently a reporter for the Daily Utah Chronicle. In February 2021, my article, “Activism for Racial Equity Continues After a Summer of Protest,” was a top story that month.

I enjoy being outdoors, whether I am camping, hiking, or snowboarding, and I love being able to share that experience with others. My passion is telling people’s stories, and I hope to continue being able to share stories that will have an impact on those who read them. I am interested in working internationally, particularly in South America, in order to help bring attention to and fix social injustices.