McCall Gray

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I held the title of Miss Murray 2014. Photo by Michael Scott Photography.

My news writing experience began in the intro to journalism class during my sophomore year at Murray High School. I had not even produced a half semester’s worth of stories when my teacher, Jodi Butler, extended the invitation to join the journalism staff as a writer for the school paper, The Voice.

I accepted with no hesitation.

I believe at the time I had found “My calling.” I thrived in my newfound world of reporting and quickly worked my way up to senior editor. I also wrote my own monthly column.

Those three years of being a writer and editor for The Voice influenced my decision to pursue journalism as my career.

When I began my Communication degree, with an emphasis in journalism, I pictured myself only in the area of writing. That’s all I had ever known and I was good at it.

Along the way my journalism path developed and led into my final career decision, broadcast journalism. I have always considered myself lucky for having discovered at 16 years old what I wanted to pursue my degree in.

Though, through my four years of college I have chosen a slightly different path than my high school self would have imagined, broadcast journalism, I still never forgot my love for writing.

Being a journalist for Voices of Utah my senior year of college gave that back to me.

I was thrilled to learn that our beat was reporting on small businesses in Utah. Everything from choosing topics, to gathering sources, to the editing process, gave me that rush again that was a little different from the groove of broadcast journalism I was molded in.

The first thing I realized was that the list of small-business ideas I had initially thought of, were none that I chose. And I was OK with that. I had come up with higher-level ideas and I was excited to step out of my comfort zone to discover the story behind them.

That was the part I enjoyed most, the freedom I had to choose how to report on those businesses. As I will never forget learning through my years of journalism training, people relate to people. And that’s exactly how I began each story.

Since my first story, “Retro Betty, a boutique that keeps vintage alive in Salt Lake City,” was, well, my first story, it was a lot about featuring the business and what it sold and where the merchandise came from. But it did not shy from first telling the story of how Retro Betty came to be, from the owner Amanda Parrish.

I received a wonderful response from Parrish and the community. People wrote in comments on my Facebook page that they had never heard of Retro Betty and were excited to check it out. I recognized my job as a reporter. It was to show and tell my audience not only about the business itself, but the people surrounding it.

My second resulted in a profile piece, “Local singer-songwriter Emily Bea, uncovers hidden talent after soccer injury.” This article was one that I allowed myself to write deeply on. From the stories and details Bea gave me in our interview, how could I not tell the world such an inspiring story. I was telling the world her life and her journey to becoming a singer-songwriter. Getting permission to do something personal like that was a privilege that I took seriously.

I especially learned the power of social media through this story. Just within the first 24 hours of publishing to Voices of Utah, it had already received 462 Facebook shares from the website. I took that as a great reward.

My final story, “The history of Steadman’s Jewelry continues on to the fourth generation of family for more than a century,” allowed me to dive into the personal, profile aspect too. Once again, I ran with it, turning out great results of the history of a 111-year-old, fourth generation, family business. One of the best parts about my final story was that I was able to film and create a visual story to accompany the written one.

With these three stories I was grateful to my Voices of Utah editor and professor, Kimberley Mangun, for guiding me through the revision process, or as she embedded in me, the “Re, dash, vision.” I was fortunate to learn more than editing my story only once and fixing minor AP style details. It was much greater than that and I am thankful for being encouraged to go back and gather more specific details and step away from my story to gain a better understanding as to what would be most beneficial to it in the end.

Through the entire process of writing for Voices of Utah, I confirmed how much I sincerely enjoy interviewing people, listening to their stories and reporting them truthfully and accurately to the world. It is an opportunity that not many people have, on top of the chance to write in depth about it, and one that I am very thankful to have had on a college level.

My journey as a journalist has come full circle, just as I prepare to graduate from the University of Utah in May 2015. I fell in love with print journalism, discovered an even greater passion for broadcast journalism, developed my storytelling skills as a Voices of Utah reporter and now, I’m ready to embark on my career in the news industry.

ABOUT ME:

I am a 22-year-old graduate from the University of Utah, class of 2015. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Communication with an emphasis in journalism.

In the fall of 2014, I joined NewsBreak, the University of Utah student news station, as a reporter. It is a show produced by students, for students and each week a show is produced and aired on KUED, Channel 9. In 2014 I held the positions of producer, reporter, anchor, journalist and videographer. And in 2015, I held the positions of director, technical director, floor director, web director, audio director and videographer. I was also in the advanced video course where I produced and filmed longer documentary/profile-style videos.

In addition to my achievements in my college education, I have enjoyed serving my community as Miss Murray 2014. Since passing on my title I have continued to implement my platform, “Hope for Alzheimer’s,” as an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Association, Utah Chapter. I love spending time with my family, nannying, dancing, oil painting and hiking.

The writer in me will also always believe in journaling every single day. I encourage others to do the same, even if it is one line a day. Because at the end of this life there is no one who can tell about your adventures, memories, experiences and write your story better than yourself.

“Journalism is hard. Always be true to yourself and to the people who are listening to the story you are telling.” — Char Gray, my Mom.

Through my journey as a journalist, I am proud to say that I have always and will always remember my Mom’s words and strive to achieve nothing less.