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Students Experience Real-time Political Reporting

Journalism students taking News Reporting cover Utah’s 2018 legislative session

Twenty-nine senators, 75 house members, thousands of bills and 45 days of legislative chaos is exactly what six BYU student reporters experienced on Utah’s Capitol Hill. For the fourth year, the BYU School of Communications Salt Lake Reporting program covered the work of the Utah Legislature for The Daily Universe and various Utah newspapers. 


Top row from left to right: Katie Harris, Katelyn Stiles, Lilian Whitney. Bottom row from left to right: Jenna Alton, Sahalie Donaldson, Hannah LaFond. Photo courtesy of Dani Jardine.

The students, who were enrolled in COMMS 321, had front-row seats to debates on everything from medical marijuana and marriage license discounts to gun control throughout the Jan. 22 – March 8 session.

School of Communications students Hannah Lafond, Jenna Alton, Katelyn Stiles, Katie Harris, Lilian Whitney and Sahalie Donaldson produced hundreds of reports, documenting democracy in action. Professor Joel Campbell and other School of Communications faculty and Daily Universe editors supported the students’ work.

Campbell said, “The student reporters paid special attention to BYU students and faculty who were on the Hill to support or oppose bills and took on special assignments from newspapers across the state. Many of their stories were reprinted in newspapers across Utah.”

The students also reported on how certain bills would affect the BYU student body. “Students and faculty successfully lobbied for a bill that will give engaged couples a discount on their marriage license if they go to premarital counseling,” said Campbell. “Also, a bill that would have allowed universities to pick and choose which sexual assault cases would be forwarded to prosecutors was stopped, thanks to the work of BYU students.”

Their final article, titled “Lawmakers finish 45-day legislative session,” was published in The Daily Universe. “The program has already been paying dividends for this year’s group of reporting students,” said Campbell. “Some of the program participants said their work at the Legislature helped them land internships this summer.”