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Interviewing Lana McKinsey was a new experience for me in two significant ways that influenced me. First, the location was different for me. In the years that I have spent as a journalist I have interviewed people in a myriad of places: airports, assembly halls, thunderstorms, mosh pits, bathrooms, offices, churches, mountain tops, grocery stores and many other places. But until I met Lana I had never interviewed someone in a home. Lana is partially blind and mostly deaf. Communicating with her was difficult at times, but it was a good experience for me. It helped me learn more about her and her personality. I learned from looking around her apartment that she loved her family. Picture frames dominated her walls, desks and shelves. I learned how difficult it is for her to see. Papers on her coffee table had 60-point, bold text. Her computer screen was huge with huge icons and words to help her see. And I could see that from letters, poems and projects that she had a loving heart.
These insights helped me see Lana not just as another person I was interviewing. But instead I saw her as an important, unique person with a story to tell. I realized it was my responsibility to find a way to tell her story in way that would show who she was.
The second aspect of the interview that was different was her response to me. Again in my time as a journalist I have received diverse reactions from those I interviewed, or attempted to interview. I have been struck, saluted, lied to, praised, cussed, threatened, ignored, thanked, envied, accused and been a target for food. But I had never before been hugged. At the end of my interview with Lana I stood to leave and informed her that I was impressed with her and her story. I hoped that we could keep in touch. She also stood and thanked me and gave me a surprising, warm hug because of my willingness to listen and tell her story. It left me in a great mood and I have reflected upon it again and again. It helped me understand the positive influence journalists can have if they use their power correctly. But I was also alerted to how easily journalists can hurt and destroy those they could and should be helping
Jed Layton has been writing since the fourth grade. His teacher started a class newsletter and encouraged the young students to give writing a try. Jed tried it and immediately felt comfortable with a pen and pad in hand. He continued writing through high school and was made the editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, The Viewmont High Danegeld. From there he continued to the University of Utah, working for the Daily Utah Chronicle as the diversity and administration beats writer. He took a two-year break for an LDS mission to Toronto that gave him a better perspective about other people, cultures and ideas.
He returned and two months later was again writing. This time he was working for a student web publication covering the 2008 election. He was able to travel to both the Democratic National Convention in Denver and the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul. He and his group continued to cities like Chicago, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Annapolis, Philadelphia, Dayton and New York City to follow the campaign trails of John McCain and Barack Obama. They established their base in Washington, D.C. where Jed was able to report on economic and political news during the beginning of the national recession.
After the election, Jed returned to work for the Daily Utah Chronicle for a few months. He has now decided to focus his future on medicine but plans to continue writing both for his own sanity and also for the education and improvement of others.