Ian Smith

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Since becoming a sports writer, it has sometimes become a difficult transition to write about anything else. So when I found out that our beat was Aging, I panicked. In reality, I shouldn’t have.

I enjoy the feeling I get in my gut when I’m assigned a difficult school project because professors don’t give you assignments and projects if they don’t think you can achieve it. I didn’t know very much about aging at all at the beginning of the semester and I learned way more than I thought I would.

Having never thought about it before, I was shocked at the language I was forced to use while discussing aging-related issues. In particular the word “senior” should be used with sensitivity when reporting. Some of the vocabulary I was using wasn’t acceptable and I stumbled plenty of times through the semester trying to change it so it was polite.

photo 1My reporting took me all over the Salt Lake Valley when I went for my ride-along for Meals on Wheels. Places I didn’t even know were there. It made me realize that the aging problem is much bigger than was explained by our guest speakers. I was amazed by just how many houses we stopped at. It seemed like it was every other house in a matter of a few hours.

This beat reporting has given me a better outlook on professionalism in general. I’m so comfortable when writing about sports that I don’t view it as a job. I just think it’s fun. There aren’t that many funny aspects about the Aging beat. I was forced to get serious while reporting.

This community is growing. Aging adults are growing in numbers and while I was reporting, I figured that there are plenty of houses I pass every day where older adults live. My reporting became more sensitive throughout the semester. You have to be sensitive to adults’ feelings and emotions. It made me a better reporter as a whole.

What did I learn about myself? Well, that list could go on forever. I learned that when I don’t know too much about a certain subject, I jump right into the deep water to see what I can find. Phone calls, emails and random visits are a great way to do this. It can be very awkward, but it will be useful to you by the end of your work. In the world of journalism, you’ve got to be comfortable with cold-calling and unscheduled interactions.

ABOUT ME:

I didn’t want to become a writer until I was a freshman in college. I remember it like it was yesterday: was assigned a research paper, like all the other freshmen, and I got nervous. I’ve always had trouble writing about topics that I didn’t pick myself. Luckily for me, my professor let me choose my topic. The paper was sports related and I took a month to complete it. One full month of constant searching and browsing until I found what I wanted. That entire month made me realize that when I want to write about something, the work that I put in isn’t work to me. It almost feels like second nature.

Coming to the University of Utah has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. They’ve got a great communication program and strong professors who really take the time to teach the little steps instead of skipping over them. I learn something new every day. Of course, there is plenty of stress that comes along with a journalism degree. Plenty of phone calls and interviews with people you’ve never met before can be awkward. But if this is what you want to do the rest of your life, you’ve got to be willing to take the leap.

Currently, I work at the Daily Utah Chronicle as a sports writer and I will probably be working there until my scheduled graduation in spring 2016. It’s been a great experience writing sports. Before that, I wrote news and that is one reason I feel that news came so much easier this semester. I’ve learned to branch outside of my comfort zone in order to capture great news. I hope that my interest will continue to grow and that I will succeed not only as a student, but also as a journalist as well.