Samantha Shaw



When I was pondering ideas for my enterprise story, I knew I wanted to write about something I was passionate about. After all, how many times are you given the freedom to write passionately in an academic sphere? I’d been attending poetry slams in Salt Lake City for two years and was very aware that the community was under-discussed. With this perfect blend of interest and under-coverage, I had my pitch. My fellow journalists were nothing but supportive of the idea and their enthusiasm spurred my decision to cover the SLC slam poetry scene.

Locating sources was, fortunately, very easy because I had been an attendee at the events for so long. I was also lucky enough to have a connection to the Vice President of Wasatch Wordsmiths through Her Campus Utah. Through these links, I landed interviews with two of Salt Lake City’s most prominent poets: Dorothy McGinnis and Bryce Wilson. They were a great mix of sources because they all had something different to bring to the table. Dorothy having a leadership position in the community was phenomenal and both poets had, at one time, represented the local scene on a national stage.

The biggest obstacle in this process was scheduling. I realize this is very different from working as a journalist because I wouldn’t have two other jobs to work around. However, there is a delicate art to scheduling interviews with subjects in that you have to be persistent but still make them want to give you an interview.

Going into the interviews, I knew I was going to get a huge variety of responses and information. I also knew that my topic was one that few people know a great deal about. With that in mind, I created a rough outline for my story in the sense of which aspects of slam poetry I wanted to address. From that, I asked each poet the same set of questions, with room for deviance and follow-up questions to specific things they said. Once I had all the notes, I assigned each interview a topic in my outline to cover. For example, I used Dorothy’s interview to talk about what slam poetry is and what is unique about the SLC community and I used Bryce’s walkthrough of a typical slam.

The writing process was different than any kind of writing I’ve ever done. Through Her Campus Utah, I’ve done profile writing, but I’ve only ever used one interview. Compiling information from three different sources was an entirely new obstacle to tackle. My organizational skills were definitely put to the test.

Overall, I’ve learned so much about journalism from this project and I’m confident that the skills learned on this story will translate to many aspects in the rest of my life.


I am 20 years old and a junior at the University of Utah studying communication. In my third year at the U, I couldn’t imagine going to school anywhere else. I am heavily involved on campus. I am a proud member of Greek life on campus as an Alpha Phi and I have written for Her Campus Utah for two years. I am also expanding my writing experience as an intern for Studio 200 on campus.

I love writing and hope to take my skills to a career in wildlife conservation, ideally in an editorial position at an organization like the World Wildlife Fund. I would be thrilled to be able to use my words to save our environment and the animals that inhabit it. As of now, I am content to use my on-campus writing positions to spread awareness about wildlife conservation.

When I’m not in class or at one of my two jobs, I enjoy playing video games, painting and writing for my personal blog. I am counting down the days until I can adopt a dog — or five — and move to Washington.