Derek Siddoway



Looking back over the semester it’s safe for me to say that beat writing for nonprofits on the west side has been one of the most challenging assignments I’ve ever undertaken. Not only was I forced to stay on a strict schedule to keep up with the workload, but I was required to up my journalism game as well. I learned first and foremost the importance of editing, editing, editing. And more editing. In the news-gathering stage I quickly discovered that good interviewing and note-taking can make or break a journalist when it’s time to sit down and write. More than a talent for writing, it takes dedication and an almost obsession-like pursuit toward excellence to be a great writer.

I admit, if we had been presented with a list of topics to cover at the beginning of the semester, nonprofits on the west side would have been my last choice. However, through my experiences interacting with some of the people and organizations on the west side, my eyes were opened. My writing led me to a variety of locations and characters, each with their own unique stories. The west side has received a bad reputation over the years that it doesn’t deserve. Its communities are industrious and resourceful. They are a rich and diverse part of Salt Lake that the general public might not be aware of. More than learning to be a better journalist, I feel I have become more compassionate and understanding as a person.

Although the west-side beat was challenging, it was not without its rewards. In the end the stress, the scheduling and the editing were all opportunities for me to gain an educational experience unlike any other. I know that my professional career will be aided by the habits and skills I have developed.


I don’t have a long, heartwarming story about how I woke up one morning and realized my life calling was that of a journalist. In fact I don’t see myself as a journalist at all. I’m a writer. As a writer I devote myself to a wide array of topics. Football, fiction, lyrics, news article, you name it I’ve probably attempted a page or two in that genre at one point or another. I find that writing builds upon itself, regardless of the subject matter. Stripped down to the essentials almost all writing is about telling a story and entertaining an audience.

The path that led me here started just a year ago when, on a whim, I decided I was going to change my major to Communication. Figuring my degree would support me as I pursued my passion to be a novelist, I jumped in head first. Hemingway succeeded so I might as well give it a shot, right? It’s been a crazy ride over the past year. I’ve been challenged to rethink the way I look at the English language and the written word.

I’m a people person and I believe in putting people first. You take care of people and they will take care of you. I believe that hard work is still the path to success. I believe in making my existence worthwhile and meaningful.

“The first time you quit, it’s hard. The second time, it gets easier. The third time, you don’t even have to think about it.” – Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant