When I set out to write my enterprise story, I set out to learn something. I didn’t want to write a story that I knew the ending to — I wanted to discover new truths through my reporting. As such, my list of potential topics looked more like a list of questions. I considered covering the snafu between the Salt Lake City Police Department and University Hospital nurse Alex Wubbels, but worried that local and national media had already canvassed the issue; I put out feelers for a story on the Antifa movement in Utah but struggled to find sources willing to go on record. Ultimately, the biggest unanswered question left on my list was, why have I seen so many new vegan restaurants popping up in Salt Lake City lately?
Just to be clear, I’m not a vegan — I’m not even a vegetarian. But I am curious to a fault. I thought this story posed a great opportunity to get nosey with local business owners (and eat some delicious food while I was at it). I chose four vegan establishments to interview, including two that have opened in the last month and two that have been slinging veggies since 2012.
The biggest ethical challenge I faced was balancing the business’s perspectives with outside insight. As my news writing professor pointed out, business owners are unlikely to tell media professionals if or when business is slow, and I wanted to make sure they weren’t overstating the success of the vegan trend. In hopes of mitigating this I reached out to the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce, who directed me to the Downtown Alliance. I’m not sure that their media spokesperson did much to mitigate the business owners’ enthusiasm — they gave a glowing comment on the growth of the vegan dining industry and how great it is for SLC — but I feel better knowing that an outside source could corroborate their claims.
Ultimately, I really enjoyed this foray into business reporting and appreciated the opportunity to ask questions about a personal curiosity. I think entering the reporting process without many preconceived positions on the topic allowed me to be open to many possible explanations and truths, and I hope it reduced the bias in my reporting. Best of all, I’ve found my new favorite dessert at the dairy-free bakery Cinnaholic!