Jacob Freeman


UDOT’s plans for transit in Little Cottonwood will affect climbing along with traffic


I had been thinking about this story since before I had taken a journalism class. In fact, this story is part of what convinced me to start taking journalism classes at all. I was frustrated that the story of Little Cottonwood wasn’t being told as much as I thought it should be. Thus, coming up with the idea for my story was natural. I was passionate about the topic going into the project, and that passion only grew during the process.

I knew right away what organizations I wanted to contact for this story. Salt Lake Climbers Alliance was the obvious choice, as it is the organization at the forefront of the conversations about Little Cottonwood Canyon, advocating for protection of climbing. I also knew I had to get in contact with UDOT, as it is the driving force behind the potential upcoming changes to the canyon.

My source at SLCA was David Carter, the chair of the policy and conservation committee. He was extremely receptive to me and my request for an interview. I was pleasantly surprised that he was not only willing to do an interview, but he also seemed genuinely excited to talk to me about an issue he was clearly passionate about. The interview felt very natural and conversational, and it was highly informative on the opinions of SLCA, and what the organization proposes as alternatives to UDOT’s current favored policies. 

My sources at UDOT, Josh Van Jura and John Gleason, were also very helpful to me in crafting my story. While it took much longer to get in contact with them, they were happy to tell their side of the story. Even though UDOT’s proposals distress me, I am grateful for the information they provided.

This brings me to the moral dilemma I experienced when crafting my story: I feel very strongly that UDOT is dead wrong about the proposed traffic solutions in Little Cottonwood. I wondered, before the interviews, if my opinion would shift more to center between these opposing organizations after talking to both sides. The opposite happened. When writing, I found it difficult to remain objective. To address this, I did my best to provide both sides with the same amount of representation in the article. Luckily, all my sources gave me plenty of information; I could have written pages more for each of my sources, so providing equal representation in my article was not much of a challenge.

My sources were what made this story so enjoyable to write. I am very happy with my decision to interview sources who are on opposite sides of an issue, and this is something that I will take with me to future articles. Hearing my sources address the ideas of their opposition and offer a rebuttal made my article both easy to write and, I hope, interesting to read.


I am a full-time student at the University of Utah pursuing a degree in communication with an emphasis in journalism. After starting my academic career in the chemistry department, I realized journalism was the best way for me to explore my passion for the outdoors in a productive way. I plan to use my platform as a journalist to bring awareness to issues important to me, such as environmental and social justice. My hobbies have been shaped by the communities I have grown up in, and by extension they have influenced what I’m passionate about. These hobbies include rock climbing, skiing, and skateboarding. I also enjoy cooking and playing the violin.