I began brainstorming ideas by thinking about current events in Salt Lake and on campus. As a student-activist, I considered different political issues in Utah, such as Operation Rio Grande, police brutality, etc. I thought of the Ben Shapiro event, as it had been the biggest activist action on campus in a while. I knew that the event was not current enough to suit the story, but the group who put it together, Black Live Matter Utah, had not gotten much coverage. Black Lives Matter seemed to be a new group in Utah, so I tried to consider what the public might be wondering about them, like who they are, why they started, what their goals are, etc.
I already knew some local activists, so I was able to use them as sources or connections. I also was able to schedule an interview with Lex Scott, the founder, which was fantastic. Lex Scott was a great source. I felt that it was very valuable to learn about the group directly from the source. I was also able to interview TK Flory, one of the first BLM activists in the country, which was really interesting. I’m thankful that these individuals were willing to be interviewed by me, especially as both of them are black, and I didn’t want to speak for them or their movement.
I had some difficulty contacting Lex Scott because she is involved with so many organizations, which makes her very busy. I had somewhat of an ethical dilemma because the only people I was able to contact from BLM Utah’s media team were white people, and like I said before, this is a black movement, so it’s important to prioritize black voices and not speak over them. I would have felt unethical to only interview white people from the organization. I continued to reach out to other people to get in contact with Lex, and luckily I was able to get the interview just in time.
When beginning the first draft of my story, I definitely had a different idea in my head than what I ended up with. I was planning on starting out by explaining the national BLM movement and some recent cases of police brutality in the US, but it just didn’t flow well. It took the focus away from the Utah Chapter, which was supposed to be the point of the article, so I made an outline and focused much more on the local issues BLM had been focusing on.
I learned that outlines are crucial. If you try to write an article start to finish, with no outline, it will take at least five times longer. I also learned that I like writing about activism. Lex Scott thanked me specifically for choosing to write about them and giving them a voice, which made what I was doing much more meaningful. It’s important to give a voice to those who are often silenced by the general public.
I’m thankful I had the opportunity to interview activists I admire, like Lex Scott, TK Flory, and Jacob Jensen. I hope to be able to cover more activist events in the future and to give a voice to those who are silenced.