Katie Harrington

Photo by Hannah Harrington-Dunn

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I remember when it started, when I began to fall in love with journalism.

I was 18. I was sitting on the brown leather sofa in my living room, holding open a crisp copy of The Salt Lake Tribune. It was like any other day: I woke up, brushed my teeth, went to the living room and picked up the paper off of the coffee table. Except that on this day, when I sat down on the couch and turned to the Utah section, I found myself staring at a photograph of me.

It was one of those let-me-perform-the-most-awkward-smile-and-pose-for-you-nervously photographs that you like to forget exists. There I was in all my glory: sitting in the newspaper room at my high school, wearing thick-rimmed glasses, holding the last edition of The Bulldog Press that I’d be a part of, and staring into the camera with wide eyes and a raised brow.

The headline above the photograph read: “Judge teen named Super Journalist”.

Whatever that means.

At 18, I’m not sure you can be “super” at much, except maybe telling wisecracks at inappropriate moments or walking around thinking you’re cooler than everyone else.

But I was most certainly not a Super Journalist, I thought. I was not deserving of the capital S or the capital J. I just liked to write. And there was nothing Super about that.

I began reading the article, skimming the words that I had said to a reporter a week before.

“I just think [journalism is] a good way to help people who don’t have a strong voice,” Katie said. “I feel like I can be a voice for them. Also, journalism is a really good way to spark change or spark a movement toward something.”

A strong voice. Sparking change. Reading those words quickly brought me back to several months prior.

I sat in a dark living room in an obscure Salt Lake City suburb that I wasn’t aware existed. Across from me sat a college-aged kid, shoulders slumping, eyes gazing at the floor. His mother sat next to him, her hand on his knee, as if to say, “I’m here for you sweetie.” His foot was tapping on the floor nervously. I felt nervous, too. Extremely nervous. But ready.

“So, tell me about your accident,” I said.

He didn’t speak much. His mother mostly spoke for him, explaining the fateful night when her son ran a red light — allegedly text messaging — and crashed into another car. That car was carrying a 16-year-old girl named Lauren Mulkey — known for her beauty and vivaciousness — who did not survive the crash.

The only words he muttered clearly during the interview were “I think about her every day,” though even those ones were spoken faintly.

It was apparent that he felt ashamed. But it was also apparent that he wanted to say something. Loudly. Proudly. Without his mother. But he couldn’t. It hurt too much.

If only he could say something loud enough for someone to hear:

Stop being distracted. Stop multi-tasking while you drive. Your life can be altered, shattered, destroyed in a single moment.

It became apparent to me during that interview that I was the person who could say those things loud enough for people to hear. Loud enough for people to acknowledge, to accept.

Looking back at that interview, and at the work I have done in this class, I am constantly reminded why I fell in love with journalism.

I am a voice for those who don’t have one. I am a seeker of voices that would never be heard if it weren’t for my endless desire to make sure that they are.

Throughout this class, I have sought out voices. Voices that had something to say. Voices that were worth hearing. Voices that spoke about law and justice. Voices that spoke about what it means to be creative and happy and human.

This class has given me tools to better find those voices, to have them heard more concisely and eloquently. But most importantly, this class has reminded me why journalism is loved by so many. It’s a profession that focuses on people.

Meeting people. Speaking to people. Influencing people and being influenced by them. The more I write, the more interested in people I become, the more I want to know.

I still believe there is nothing I have done that is all that deserving of that capital S and that capital J once printed in the Salt Lake Tribune. But perhaps I’ve come to realize that what can be defined as “Super” are the thousands of people who make the pages of newspapers worth reading.

They are — and always will be — something Spectacular.

ABOUT ME:

I am studying print journalism at the University of Utah. I’m drawn to journalism because it gives me an opportunity to instill a voice in people who are too afraid to use their own. I have the desire to constantly improve the human condition through my writing.

The Wasatch Mountains have kept me enthralled for 21 years and counting. I was born and raised in Salt Lake City and I am only beginning to discover the wonders that this place has to offer. I live to ski, rock climb, travel, camp, and eat delicious food. I am learning Spanish and attempting to become a self-proclaimed Italian food connoisseur. I want to see the world and experience the cultures that reside within it.