What does it mean to be a journalist in the West? That was the question I ended up pondering on my way home from the SPJ Region 9 Conference hosted by the Utah Headliners chapter this weekend.
Perhaps, from Wyoming to New Mexico and from Utah across the border to Colorado, we’re rather good at managing our resources. We recognize diversity, whether it’s political, religious or demographic. As truth tellers we know the value of honest news and how communities can benefit from real context and explaining real consequences.
Reporters in the West, as was showcased at SPJ9, realize (even if subconsciously) the issues we cover are issues for our neighbors in surrounding states.
Utah Headliners covered an array of topics. Covering marijuana or polygamy may sound state-specific. But they’re not. As Westword marijuana editor Kate McKee Simmons explained in her session, Colorado’s decision to legalize set forth a trend that’s unlikely to slow down. It’s also unlikely to become less controversial in the coming years.
Nate Carlisle, a reporter at the Salt Lake City Tribute who covers polygamy, showed that the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints is dispersing into other states, away from Utah, and why it’s a big deal.
Even more impressive than the panels themselves was perhaps the number of students attending the conference. SPJ Colorado sponsored three students from SPJ student chapters in Colorado, CSU, Mesa and the Auraria campus.
Here are a few of the students picking up awards at Saturday’s luncheon.
Next year SPJ Colorado will be hosting the Region 9 conference in Denver. If there’s something you would like to see us feature or talk about let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until then, keep the West wild.
— Kara Mason
SPJ Colorado Pro President