The past 12 months have been a particularly eventful and often troubling era for the University of Utah community. In April 2017, Mary Beckerle was dismissed as CEO of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, provoking criticism from staff members and Jon Huntsman, Sr. In September 2017, in response to the controversy, University of Utah Health CEO Vivian Lee stepped down from her position and U President David Pershing announced he would step down at the end of the school year. In the same month, the conservative political group Young Americans for Freedom invited the divisive political commentator Ben Shapiro to speak on campus. The event sparked protests and a contentious, occasionally violent debate over free speech, racial attitudes and political ideologies. In October 2017, U student ChenWei Guo was killed in a shooting near campus.
In these situations, there has been a need for dedicated and incisive student journalists to inform the community and represent students’ desires for truth, transparency and justice. Throughout this turbulent year, Emily Anderson has embraced this role with passion and intelligence as the news editor for The Utah Chronicle. Her breaking-news reporting has been essential in understanding difficult, emotional incidents on campus, and her work as a writer and editor has shed light on some of the most important issues facing the university. At the beginning of the summer semester, Anderson will step into the role of executive editor for The Utah Chronicle.
As a child, Anderson never envisioned herself as a journalist. A native of Roy, Utah, Anderson was fascinated by politics from a young age, and before arriving at the U considered a career as a lawyer. As an undergraduate, Anderson quickly discovered her passion for political issues would be a perfect match for journalism. In her time at the U, Anderson has quickly established herself as an ambitious and talented reporter. She has three years of experience at The Chronicle, and she has served as news editor for the past year and a half. She has also worked for The Salt Lake Tribune, KUER News, RadioWest and SLUG Magazine. She is currently double majoring in Middle Eastern studies and communication with an emphasis in journalism. After graduating in 2019, Anderson plans to attend graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in journalism. Anderson wants to combine her two areas of study by working as a foreign correspondent and covering political issues.
As Anderson has covered events on campus, she has found that The Chronicle plays an important role in students’ lives.
“I think that student journalists are able to give a unique perspective because they do have a connection to students on campus in a way that other journalists outside of campus do not,” Anderson said. “When you know people who were friends with a student that is killed or students that were hiding out in their dorms, it’s a lot different to cover that story.”
Anderson has faced the challenge of maintaining objectivity while reporting on issues that directly affect her as a member of campus. In her writing, she has set a goal “to engage with those opinions and make sure that everyone has a voice.”
“The main thing is to take into account all perspectives and make sure everyone is given a fair voice,” Anderson said. “We need to do extra work to make sure the opposite point of view is heard.”
In her time as executive editor, Anderson hopes to increase online engagement as journalism is increasingly consumed online and through social media. She also hopes to increase collaboration by working with Utah journalists off campus and producing content that brings together work from the different Student Media platforms. Some possibilities include increased utilization of the Student Media investigative project, pairing stories with the podcast Floodlights and creating documentaries with Studio 200. Technology allows journalists to tell stories in diverse and engaging ways, and Anderson’s ambitious goals would utilize a multimedia approach to enhance stories posted in print or online.
Anderson believes The Chronicle has a responsibility to engage with the larger campus community to report on stories that matter to students. She wants to communicate with ASUU and the marketing team at the U. She also has a goal to work with the Office of Equity and Diversity to report on marginalized groups that may be underrepresented in content produced by The Chronicle.
Anderson certainly has difficult work ahead of her. She must continue to guide coverage on a range of necessary subjects while pushing forward innovation in an age where the role of newspapers is increasingly called into question. While these challenges would be daunting to anyone, Anderson seems remarkably confident she is the right woman for the job. Should she be successful, The Chronicle — and the entire U campus — will be all the better for it.