Dayna Bae

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Before I take this course, I expected writing about the special topic that I am interested in. I thought I could choose my own subject for beat reporting. Against my expectations, the topic of beat reporting of this course was tied to one specific topic in a community. I never expected that, but I thought working on the same topic with many peers was a tremendous experience since I could witness diverse perspectives on the same subject. Through this, I learned that each person has a different view on perceiving and interpreting the same topic, even if each individual belongs to the same local community.

Processed with MOLDIVAt first, I got many mistakes and errors in formatting and editing. I faced lots of difficulties when I tried to reach people for an interview. Amongst many difficulties, the most difficult part was a language. Since English is not my first language, I was intimidated by lacking English skills and fluency. I was also extremely stressed by the lack of human sources to interview for my article. Contacting and reaching people are still stressful to me like all other journalists think. However, I got used to the stressful pressure. I think practicing language skills and finding resources are the inevitable part of life for journalists.

Since this course is focused on the issues of local community, I was an outsider from the very beginning of the semester. I am a student from the Asia Campus, which is located in South Korea, and this is my first semester in Salt Lake City. Thus, I was not familiar with any local issues or events and geographical information. However, thanks to being an outsider, I could have a more objective point of view on the topic, and I could feel more empathy with the Pacific Islanders in Utah. I cannot say that I was not affected by that since my reporting is related to outsider’s viewpoint. Thanks to the Voices of Utah, I could learn lots of professional skills and utilize every source as a journalist. It was a precious experience of testing my ability and possibility in my field.

ABOUT ME:

I am a senior studying communication and concentrating on journalism at the University of Utah. I studied social work before I changed my major to communication in 2017. Experiences in social work made me have a significant interest in human rights issues as well as humanitarian aid. I am passionate to become a reporter at the United Nations News Center along with my journalism career.

I love arts, music and travel. During my free time, I enjoy taking photographs and capturing everyday lives in still images. I also love to write a novel mostly about love and friendship. I appreciate art and art history, so I am also interested in writing art columns after getting an academic degree in art history in the future. I believe that I am an artistic person. I also believe in the power of writing, regardless of any types of writings. One day, I want to publish my own articles that can make people impressed and think with various perspectives.

Sheherazada Hameed

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MY BLOG: Giving voice to groups that need better recognition in the community

There are many ethnic groups along the Wasatch Front that need to be reintroduced by the media in a different light. We live in an era where humans are often narrow-minded and continue to create stereotypes about people who have a different religion or skin color. Part of the reason is the diluted information or increasing negative content distributed by the media.

My personal and professional goal is to share knowledge and educate my audience about the existence of other cultures near us. About their struggles, life stories and what they do here to make our life different. I wish people can reach out to each other and exchange their life experience so they can work together toward a better tomorrow.

When I started reporting this semester my beat was the Pacific Islanders.

It wasn’t difficult to find the Pacific Islanders who do extraordinary things every day and contribute to their families and communities.

I found that Pacific Islanders were excited to speak to a reporter. They all felt like there is not enough good and positive said about them. They were surprised that someone is interested in their life.

I interviewed David Lavulo and members of his family about their restaurant and the mission to serve fresh and nutritious meals every day, practicing healthy cooking and traditional recipes.

My experience with Haviar Hafoka and the Malialole Dance group was spectacular. I wrote a story about education through dance and music and preservation of good life values for the young generation of Pacific Islanders. I attended an event where I could experience the native music, dance and harmony of their relationships with each other.

The last story I worked on was about dedication and mission to preserve Utah’s historical side. I spoke with William AhQuin and his son Job AhQuin about the Iosepa cemetery. They taught me of how little people need to live but faith and family are the foundation of life.

I realized for myself and my readers that there is so much good to be found around us and is my mission to share it.

ABOUT ME: 

My name is Sheherazada Hameed and I am a student-journalist at the University of Utah majoring in communication with an emphasis in journalism. I am currently working on establishing my name and style and wish to start a career as a reporter in a local newspaper or a magazineIMG_9859 V2

I am passionate about learning and reporting different minority groups in the state of Utah. Refugees and immigrants are my focus of interest and I wish to cover their problems and stories in depth.

My interest is inspired by personal life experience.

I was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1983 in the family of a Bulgarian mother and an Iraqi father. My father taught me that journalists are the free-minded and publicly respected professionals. I started my education at Sofia University. Just after completing my third year at the Department of Journalism and Public Relations, I made the bold decision to come to the United States, leaving my education incomplete.

I arrived in Salt Lake City in 2005 and since then I have worked in many hotels and resorts in Utah. I have worked as a server and a bartender. In 2011 I graduated from National Academy of Medical Aesthetics in Salt Lake City and since then I have worked in spas.

Working and living as an immigrant I was introduced to many people with similar stories who came to America to look for opportunities. In 2009 I married my husband Javier who is an immigrant from Mexico. We have one daughter, Margarita, named after my mother who passed away in 2009. We raise Margarita as a unique individual and we remind her every day of the choices her parents had to make.

In 2017 I decided that I need to complete my education. I knew it is important to set an example for my daughter. My mother’s greatest wish before she died was for me to graduate from a university.

My personal experience and relations with people from a multicultural background is an inspiration to write. The stories of refugees and their survival. The stories of people who came here to seek safer and better life for their children. The undocumented immigrants who live among us. Those are all human stories and I want to tell them.

Today I live in Salt Lake City with my husband and daughter and my four cats. In our busy lives, we still find opportunities to do things we love. We enjoy traveling and learning more about the great country we live in. In my free time, I love cooking, gardening and watching Cold War spy movies. I wish I am not so scared and learn how to ski so I can fully enjoy the unique state we live in.

 

Marissa Sittler

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As a result of my reporting this semester, I realized the disparity between media coverage of the minority groups and the majority population in Utah. While it should not surprise me (why would Utah have greater coverage of minorities than Hollywood or the mass media?), it still was a little disheartening. The silver lining behind this, is that our class and the following Voices classes have the opportunity to highlight and learn more about the minority groups in Utah. As a person of color, I recognize this project’s importance and the great need we have for it not only at the University of Utah, but the Utah community as a whole.

Another result of my reporting this semester is that I gained more experience in the field of journalism. For previous courses (although some were not strictly journalism courses, more so general writing courses), I was not always required to actually go out and find sources and set up interviews. I would say that I had a pretty firm grasp of the interviewing process prior to this class, but this class really gave me a taste of having to chase after potential sources and following up with them several times, if they did not get back to me. That leads me into some of the disappointments and successes that I experienced this semester.

My first story, which was a profile on Susi Feltch-Malohifo’ou and her journey of self-acceptance as a transracial adoptee, is the story that I am most proud of. As a transracial adoptee, I was able to connect with Susi and the sentiments she expressed, such as sadness, anger and confusion. Susi shared with me that she was grateful “for the opportunity for me to share this part of me that has turned into a strength.” I think this is why I am the most proud of this piece, because I was able to write a story that was close to me and I felt that I did it justice to Susi. While I feel that this story was a huge success, I was also a little disappointed because one of the sources I really wanted to interview, Susi’s longtime friend, did not get back to me until far after the deadline for the story passed. I think that her thoughts and contributions would have made the story even more personal.

Another disappointment was with the lack of depth that my third story on the umbrella organization, Nā HALE, had. Overall, I think that I did the best that I could, since Nā HALE is not a fully formed organization. Several times I was told that this was more “a concept” than a formal organization. I knew of its fairly new beginning when Jake Fitisemanu Jr. came to talk to our class and he said that it did not have a website. Despite this, I still wanted to pursue the story because I thought that it was worthwhile. Because of these factors, this did make for a shorter story than I wanted. Additionally, my photos for this story were not as interesting as my previous ones, which were all portraits.  

On a more personal level, there was a time that I felt like an outsider during my beat reporting this semester. When I met Susi at the Kearns Library, she explained to me that Kearns is one of the poorest cities in Salt Lake County, even below West Valley City. She also said that the library feeds a good amount (I can’t remember the exact number) of kids, which isn’t something that a typical library does. I have felt like an outsider for a lot of my life being an Asian American adoptee, growing up with two white parents and living in predominantly white, upper-middle-class communities. I’ve mainly felt like an outsider in Utah because of my race. There have also been times that I have felt like an insider, which I think is the feeling of belonging and not feeling out of place.

There have been instances where I have felt like I stood out for my socioeconomic status. But when I met with Susi and she explained to me how a lot of the kids at the Kearns library are there alone, without their parents since their parents just dropped them off and/or are there to be fed, I really felt the privilege that I have had throughout my life. Those are things that have never happened to me, that I have never experienced. I thought about my fond memories of going to the library when I was younger with my mom and older sister. And I thought about how my mom would have made food for us before or after the library. What overpowered the feeling of being an outsider was my gratitude for the life that I have, but also guilt for what I have. This did not affect my reporting, mainly because it wasn’t the focus of my story, but I think it affected me more on a larger, more personal scale. And, it might even impact the type of stories that I write in the future.

I am still exploring who I am as a journalist. I still have a lot to learn, a lot of people to listen and talk to. I want to be able to share their stories and mine. The unknown can be really scary. But I am excited to be able to explore the potential that I have and share my voice with the world.

ABOUT ME: 

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Marissa Sittler graduated from the University of Utah in May 2018 with her bachelor’s degree in communication with an emphasis in journalism. During her time at the university, she completed two internships. The summer before her junior year, she interned with the nonprofit organization Mali Rising Foundation as its communication intern. She assisted the executive director in energizing a social media campaign, in addition to writing blog posts for the website. During the spring semester of her junior year, she was the internal communication specialist for the Salt Lake County Health Department. As such, she researched, interviewed and wrote employee spotlights for internal use to increase morale within the department.

Her academic achievements include the Dean’s List for the spring and fall semesters of 2016 and 2017, as well as being a member of Kappa Tau Alpha, the national honor society for journalism and mass communication.

She hopes to earn her master’s degree in journalism in the near future.

Some of her guilty pleasures are breakfast food, including pancakes, waffles and hash browns. She also loves being an aunt to her older sister’s dog, Chloe.

George W. Kounalis

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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.

ABOUT ME:

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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!).

Shaelyn Barber

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Whenever anything happens to me, the first person I call is my mom. So, buzzing off the excitement of my very first interview for Voices of Utah, I dialed her number. It rang once, twice, then three times, and the warm voice of my mother echoed through the speaker.

I chattered into the phone, animatedly spilling the tale. She listened patiently, then laughed.

“You sure chose an interesting job.”

For an introvert with social anxiety, journalism is perhaps a nonsensical career path. As part of my daily life, I am pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone. I have to go outside, search out fascinating stories, approach strangers, and carry out long conversations with people I’ve never met before. By all expectations, it should be terrifying for me. In fact, it is.

Yet, the terror is counterbalanced by something stronger: a deep bubbling passion.

I never wanted to settle for a career that I was not in love with. Fortunately, I stumbled into journalism by pure coincidence. As I searched painstakingly for a life path, I found that journalism just so happened to check off all the criteria I had for a job. I would be able to travel. I could write. And, I would never have to stop learning.

But, beyond that check list, journalism has blossomed into something that means far more to me. For every ounce of fear in my heart, there is just as much love.

Most of all, and again perhaps most bizarrely paradoxical, is the deep fascination I bear for the stories of other people. While I, in all likelihood, should be terrified to go out and have deep conversations with people I have never met, that is truly my favorite part of journalism.

I want to hear about people’s experiences and lives. I want to form connections and emotional bonds. I want to write about them so that other people, too, may learn from them.

That has been my greatest realization while working on my stories for Voices of Utah. I can overcome my fears, because writing gives me strength through my weaknesses.

ABOUT ME:

My first experience with journalism was in first grade. As some sort of career exploration, I shuffled myself into a dimly lit portable classroom and sat down to learn the art of news writing. I loved it. Then, I promptly abandoned it for the world of fiction.

I spent most of my younger days working to be an author. I have stacks of notebooks filled with poetry, story outlines and character sketches. I wrote at least two full-novel-length works during high school.

By the time I reached college in the fall of 2014, my dreams of authorship began to fade and I was left drifting, searching for something to fulfill me in the same way that fantasy had. I wrote lists of possible majors containing everything from astronomy to painting and all that lies in between.

I finally settled on the two majors that seemed to fit the best, political science and journalism and, as I began to learn the art of news writing, I fell in love once again.

I aspire to become a travel writer. I want to be able to see the world and share my experiences and passion with others through my writing.

My work can be found on my personal blog, Shaepable, and in the opinion section for the Daily Utah Chronicle.

Allison Oligschlaeger

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Having just returned from a year in the Pacific Islands of New Zealand, I was psyched to learn that I would spend this semester reporting on Utah’s Pacific Islander population. It wasn’t my own community, of course, but it wasn’t completely foreign to me either. This was truly the perfect beat for me to explore the nuances of identity-oriented reporting — new enough to be challenging, but familiar enough to be approachable.

I became especially grateful for that psychological foothold when I ran into reporting issues within my first month on the beat. As a queer person, I wanted to write a story about the third gender identity found in Polynesian cultures and the experiences of LGBTQ Pacific Islanders here in Utah. But finding people willing to share their experiences of gender and sexuality in Utah’s Pacific Islander community proved difficult. After receiving no response to an email I sent a potential source, a gay Polynesian man, I followed up with him on Facebook. I could see that he had read my message, but again did not respond.

This presented me with an ethical question: how hard is it appropriate to push for an interview? Ordinarily, I follow a former editor’s advice to “be a (polite) bulldog,” leaving as many emails and voicemails as it takes to get a response from sources. But this situation felt different. I wasn’t asking this man about an event he was organizing or an area of expertise, I was asking him to discuss intimate details of his identity and experiences as a gay Pacific Islander. Was it appropriate or considerate to continue pressing him across multiple platforms?

Ultimately, I made the call to respect this man’s right to ignore my questions and changed my story topic. I believe identity-oriented reporting should deepen and expand our understandings of people, and I worried that continuing to push this potential source would have made him feel diminished instead. When searching for specific perspectives, especially those of minority populations, it’s important to make sure our sources feel respected as whole individuals and not reduced to the aspects of their identities that are most relevant to the story we’re working on. And while I don’t think it’s inappropriate to ask people about their identities — on the contrary, I think it often produces excellent journalism! — writing about subjects as sensitive as gender, sexuality and race demands a corresponding level of sensitivity from us. This means listening actively, responding empathetically and, contrary to popular journalistic practice, being willing to take “no” for an answer. I’m grateful that reporting this beat gave me opportunities to practice all three!

ABOUT ME:

img_6430Allison Oligschlaeger is a freelance journalist and communication student at the University of Utah.

They began their newswriting career in high school with a weekly column for the “Teen’s Ink” section of The Davis County Clipper.

Allison’s work has since appeared in The Deseret News, Salt Lake City Weekly and The Daily Utah Chronicle. They received a regional Mark of Excellence award from the Society of Professional Journalists for their coverage of the University of Utah fight song debate in 2014. Allison enjoys skiing, traveling and personal nonfiction.

Mckenzie Ycmat

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I’m a writer by instinct but not a journalist. In the past, I naturally would be attracted to writing about communities I’m already familiar with like the LGBT community or fashion community. Reaching out to a new group of people like Pacific Islanders terrified me at first. It meant that I actually had to reach out to people I had no connection to, which made me feel vulnerable.

Even though I was petrified by the idea of reaching out to people I didn’t already have a connection with, I knew I had to do it — not just for the class, but also for myself as a journalist. In the end, I’m so incredibly grateful I took that leap of faith and stepped out of my comfort zone. I got to reconnect with old friends from my past and even learn more about strangers and a community I wasn’t a part of.

Because of this beat and reaching out to people outside of my comfort zone, I realized that I can be a journalist. I realized how easy it is to put myself in a journalistic persona to accomplish what I need to do and to ask the appropriate questions. I learned how to prepare each interview effectively and efficiently to get the answers I’m looking for.

During my interviews, I never felt like an outsider with the community. People always treated me as one of their own and were open to most of my questions. This affected my reporting by making me more comfortable with interviewing and helping the stories naturally fall into place. I didn’t ever feel like I needed to do too much research to fill in the blanks, the answers came naturally and created a conversation through my stories.

Although I hit a few hiccups, specifically with my second story when I had a few key interviews fall through due to timing or about the questions, I was able to quickly gather everything together and find replacements. Covering the local Pacific Islander community taught me not only how to be a better journalist but also the beauty of family and community that I’ve never experienced before. I was honored to be a part of it and share a few of the hidden voices within their community.

ABOUT ME:

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Mckenzie graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in communication and a focus on journalism in Spring 2018. 

Mckenzie created her own magazine company called Salt Roads in 2012 and interviewed multiple musicians, artists, business owners and more for six years. Later in 2016 she started working for Broadway Media, a local radio station, as the content manager and was in charge of managing blogs, social media accounts, and promotions for seven different radio stations.

Mckenzie is from North Salt Lake, Utah, and graduated from Woods Cross High School in 2011. She received her associate degree from LDS Business College in 2015, with an emphasis in business management. She enjoys photography, music, traveling to New York City at least three times a year, and film. Mckenzie hopes to continue her passion for writing in New York City and pursue a career in writing for film.