Asia Bown



Before now, I’d only had one experience with beat reporting and it centered on a topic that I know very little about: government finance. I will say, I learned a lot about who to contact on matters relating to how state and city governments allocate funds, but I can’t say that it taught me enough about government finance for me to feel confident in reporting on it again. That being said, it was a valuable experience that taught me how to stick to a beat instead of bouncing around, like I tend to do. 

This semester’s beat was especially rewarding due to my personal connection to it. As an Asian American, it felt like I had such a wealth of resources and knowledge at my disposal that it simultaneously felt impossible to pick just two stories. Luckily, my own sensitivity to navigating race issues guided my interactions with sources as well as the directions my stories took. Though the incidence of my heritage and this semester’s beat are mere coincidence, I do consider this experience to be instrumental in my professional development. I was able to get more practice in conducting interviews, researching people and businesses, using AP Style, and I was able to hone my skills as a news writer. Each of these skills will make me a better writer and more successful journalist in my career.

The learning aspect of journalism also happens to be one of the best parts of being a professional storyteller. I aim to be a continual learner, and I see a future in journalism as being vital to that goal. I love learning about a topic, issue, law, etc., and relaying that information to people in a more accessible way. Human-interest stories are also important to tell because they can impact various communities of people, such as racial minorities, people with disabilities and underserved communities. I want to tell their stories so that they aren’t left behind by politicians or aren’t living in obscurity. I firmly believe that a lot of the world’s problems could be addressed by better and accessible communication and I’d like to be a part of this side of communication.

Through this experience, I’ve realized my propensity for other types of writing, like essay writing. In doing research for each story I found myself enthralled by my documentary and written sources. I sunk deep into “Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning,” a collection of essays by Cathy Park Hong. I absorbed her words like a sponge in water and relied heavily on her writing while I pieced together my own article. I found myself breaking away to write an essay of my own about the experience of being Asian American, though I do feel like it influenced how I wrote my first article about being Asian American in a white area. That aside, I felt inspired by the beat and my sources. Professionally, I see more avenues to take my writing and it’s made me more excited and sure of my desire to be a writer. 

When I began my pre-writing, I was so certain that I’d write a searing article about the wrongs of non-Asian people against Asian people and how they affect us. “Us.” This was my first problem. I couldn’t be in my story. Despite my own experiences as a part of the community I was writing about, I had no place in this story. The next problem arose when I realized that my sources did not share the experience I tried to “prewrite” into my story. They didn’t feel cheated, drowning in white people, nor did they feel like they were missing a robust community of Asians. Instead, they felt comfortable in their communities because they built their own. That was one thing I did not expect to hear and it completely threw off my focus. Looking back, I should not have impressed my own assumptions upon my sources, but hindsight is 20/20. 

My second story never veered away from what I expected to write, but because of the first story’s sharp left turn away from my theme I was alert and open to hearing anything my sources were to tell me. Reporting on this story was one of the more enjoyable projects I’ve worked on and I felt much more connected to “the” Asian American community and the small business community here in Salt Lake City.

Though I felt like I brought too many of my own assumptions to the table, this ironically helped me reinforce one of the ideas that I was trying to get across — that Asian Americans are not a monolith. In being surprised by my sources not sharing my same perspectives, I rediscovered the depth and complexity of my community, which is exactly what I wanted to get across. Overall, reporting on this beat has brought me pride for my community and a greater sense of belonging in “the” Asian American community in Salt Lake City.


Asia Bown is a senior at the University of Utah studying journalism. She has been passionate about writing for her entire life, though her younger self would swear that she’d become a novelist before a journalist. While writing a book still sits high on her list of aspirations, her foray into journalism will come first, but she will probably never give up on her hopes of becoming a novelist.

Throughout her college career, she has devoted time outside of school to writing for Her Campus, an online magazine targeted at women in college. In this community she was able to find friendship, hone her skills as a casual writer, and explore topics she actually wanted to write about. Even though it is her declared major, she never expected to love journalism as much as she does. The past few years have held some important lessons in journalism, which she’s been keen on learning and adopting in her own practice. After graduation in August 2022, she hopes to follow her love of writing and journalism wherever it may take her, especially if her efforts land her at National Geographic one day.

Outside of school, Bown can be found at work at a local tea cafe, reading a book on her balcony, or hard at work making whatever kind of soup she wants at a given moment. Her work can be found on Her Campus and Medium.

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