Late last summer, Professor Louise Degn, with the University of Utah Communication Department, invited me to teach Communication 3660 during spring semester 2012. I had time on my hands. I was doing a little freelance writing and strategic messaging. It sounded like a breeze.
It was anything but. Two months before class was to start, I took a full-time job as interim director of the Rape Recovery Center in Salt Lake City (next to news reporting and writing, I love the non-profit world, and I especially love working with survivors of sexual violence). Suddenly, I was faced with squeezing together several hours a week of teaching, as well as learning how to manage a nonprofit organization.
As I write this blog, one day before the final day of class, I couldn’t be happier about this group of budding journalists. They know how to start, execute and finish a project. The course required them to push boundaries and stretch way past their comfort zones (I hope they will forgive me those cliches). One of the main challenges they faced was venturing out, interviewing and photographing or filming people they did not know. Most of the class members accepted the challenge, and surprised me with the results. They dug for information, they played with new forms of media, they willingly shared their stories with peers and wrote and rewrote throughout an exhausting editing process.
I will repeat what I have so often told the class: Just do what you love. The rest will follow. You see, we talked often in class about the sorry state of journalism employment. Oh, it’s so bad. Oh, it’s not the way it used to be. Oh, there’s no money. There are no jobs. Blah, blah, blah.
If you read the students’ work on the Law & Justice page here on Voices of Utah, I know you’ll see what I see: Young people full of hope and promise and ambition.
They will find their way.
I am a native of Salt Lake City, a graduate of Olympus High School and a mass communication graduate of the University of Utah (B.S., 1981). It’s hard to believe I started my college career as an anthropology major, because the day I wrote my first story for the Daily Utah Chronicle, I was hooked on news writing. That was in 1979. My senior year, I was appointed editor of the Chrony, and I never, ever looked back.
My journalism career has taken me all over the country. Through the ’80s and ’90s I worked at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., then the Saint Paul Pioneer Press in Minnesota, then a defunct alternative weekly in Minneapolis called Twin Cities Reader. Then it was off to Dallas and Fort Worth, where I covered business and politics at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and moved to another alt weekly, the Dallas Observer (part of the Village Voice Newspaper group).
I realize as I write this biography how really old I am.
I returned to my home town in 1997, where I worked for The Salt Lake Tribune in many capacities for 10 years, including managing editor for sports during the 2002 Winter Olympics and as a metro columnist for five years.
The story is getting long and dull. Suffice to say I still love to write, but now stuff my ideas and dreams into my own private journals. I love politics, skiing fast downhill, running distances, road cycling and my husband, Ted Wilson and my two children, Caitlin Warchol (24) and Sam Warchol (21).
My husband and I keep talking about retiring someday in India.
But retirement seems so far away.
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