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where there's smoke: A building under construction next to the Logan Police Station caught fire from a welder's spark. Damage was estimated at $50,000. / Photo by Gideon Oakes

Today's word on journalism

August 27, 2008

On protests at political conventions:

"The citizens of Denver and St. Paul, and Americans everywhere, should hope officials in those cities already have considered both the constitutional and monetary costs of silencing voices that have a right to be heard. . . . Well-expressed or wacky. Irritating or illuminating. Respectful or raucous. There's nothing in the 45 words of the First Amendment that sets out any such qualifications or limits on protests. Time and again in our history, from women's suffrage to civil rights to tax protests, to name just some, voices first raised in the streets -- to the disgust or disappointment of some -- have led to significant, positive changes in law and American life."

--Gene Policinski, executive director, First Amendment Center, 2008

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'Herald Journal' editor-reporter enjoys insider's perspective, job's variety

By Whitney Schulte

May 12, 2008 | Tyler Riggs wakes up every morning never knowing exactly what the day will bring. He might be riding shotgun with Logan's finest, or he might be called in to cover not one, but three fires.

Riggs works at the Logan Herald Journal. He says that when people find out where he works, they tend to be interested and ask questions about his job. "Working in the media, you learn a lot about dealing with other people and common sense," Riggs said.

Along with his job at the newspaper, Riggs is also working on completing a dual major in business and journalism at Utah State University. He has his journalism classes completed, and is enjoying the business classes because they are so different from his "day job."

Riggs has been sticking to three classes a semester. "While I think I could handle doing one more, that would start to seriously interfere with some of the other things I have going on in my life."

To add to his already heavy workload, Riggs also edits other reporters' articles. It's not the most fun part of the job, but someone has to do it. "Editing other people's work can get tedious after you spend about eight to 10 hours a week looking at words on the computer screen," Riggs said.

If someone brings in a good idea for an article, Riggs will sometimes assign it to one of his reporters, but for the most part, they develop their own story ideas on their beats.

One of the biggest perks of the job is knowing what is going on in the community before the "normal" citizens do. To many of the newspaper readers' surprise, this is not due to the AP Wire Service. Riggs says most of the news he hears through being employed at the paper is local news. He gets most of his national news just like anyone else does, through www.CNN.com or some other Web page.

Riggs says that when he's reporting a story he never goes into it with an agenda. When an issue has two sides, you must cover both. "As long as you give everyone involved with an issue that you're reporting on a chance to comment, you're winning the battle, I think," he said.

Riggs also says the "Herald Journal" writes some LDS-themed stories, because 75 percent of their readership is of that faith. The other stories they write don't really have a need for a religious slant.

When he goes out to do interviews, Riggs feels like most people in the valley are pretty open with him. "There's times when on sensitive or potentially controversial stories, people will later say they have been misquoted," he says, "but it's my experience that people usually read their words in print later and regret saying what they have said or how they've said it." He also says he actually finds that it is very, very rare for a reporter to deliberately misquote someone.

A question Riggs surely hears a lot is "What is your favorite article you've written?" His response is somewhat surprising. "I really can't pick one at this point, partly because I may not have written it yet, and partly because I've written so many," he says, "In the past six years that I've worked at either the Statesman or the Herald Journal, I've written well over 1,500 articles."

Back when Riggs started on the first of those 1,500 plus articles, he would open up the paper every morning to check which stories he had written in the day's edition, and look at his byline. However, he says he doesn't really do that anymore. Riggs says, "The one time it's kind of neat is when there's a really big story and you work hard to make sure every detail is handled properly, and then you get to look at it the next day."

And one last interesting tidbit about Riggs: he thinks a lot of television news personalities are fake. But, Tyler is a big fan of Bill Maher. "He generally says what he believes and doesn't put up with B.S. from anyone," Riggs said.

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