writing samples

I am grateful that my work has been seen in USA Today, ESPN and the Pew Forum and for winning a combined nine national and regional awards over four years from the Society of Professional Journalists and Religion Newswriters Association. I also worked on the film “Before Your Time,” which will be showing in theatres throughout Utah.

I have written for high-profile online publications in The Inquisitr, The Good Men Project, Thought Catalog and Patch.

I have worked for the Deseret News, Standard-Examiner, Aggie BluePrint (a student magazine I co-founded) and local newspapers in the Daily Herald, Rocket-Miner, Philipsburg Mail and Sun Advocate.

Statewide, I’ve written for Utah Policy Daily, City Weekly and Utah Stories, besides the Deseret News.

I’m also recognized as a top writer on Medium and have contributed to several online publications.

Many of the stories that were award-winning or prominently published are featured below.

“UTA skips fuel hedging, may cost agency $3.6 million” (click here) I co-authored this investigative report about the rider’s cost of the Utah Transit Authority foregoing a basic business strategy. Featured on KSL television, Utah’s most-watched news channel for years until 2011. (Deseret News)

“What do town halls in the wake of the last election say about Utah politicians?” (click here): A trend started forming among all of Utah’s six federal delegation members: they weren’t speaking with their constituents after the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. (The Good Men Project)

“Heard of a ‘dry Mormon?’ Turns out, there are quite a few dry Mormon … transhumanists” (click here): I held a conference call with the board of the organization and traveled to attend their meetings. (ami)

“Over seven days at Disney World, Rep. Mia Love used a lot of campaign funds” (click here) ~and~ “There’s a missing report on Rep. Mia Love’s expenditure reports” (click here) It was startling to study Federal Elections Commission documentation and come to these realities. (The Good Men Project)

“’Star Wars: The Last Jedi — this is the leaked plot, multiple sources say” (click here) I broke the leaked plot of the sequel film of the new “Star Wars” trilogy. (The Good Men Project)

“A coal-to-liquids facility could have been in a central Utah county for more than a year now” (click here) The editor said that the economic development director’s statement that the pertinent company had not built the facility carried law-breaking implications.

“No policy, no understanding, no teamwork” (click ‘No policy, no understanding … no teamwork_ _ News _ rocketminer) Minutes I obtained showed reasons for a rift between Sweetwater County School District No. 2 and the Green River Education Association (in Wyoming) that went back two decades. (Rocket-Miner)

“24/7 Sobriety Program offers new approach to DUI discipline” (click 24_7 Sobriety Program offers new approach to DUI discipline_News_rocketminer) There appeared to be more to the mention in a county commission meeting that the county sheriff got an award. My digging revealed that he was brought a bring a new program for DUI discipline to Wyoming, just the 13th state in the country to have it overall. (Rocket-Miner)

“The LDS church has no plans to weigh in on GOP tax plan” (click here) Church PR give a bit of a runaround before I got in touch with someone in Washington.

“How rocky is city’s liquor bill terrain?” (click How rocky is city_s liquor bill terrain_ _ News _ rocketminer) I studied city ordinance and state statute to realize discrepancies. It was notable that five legal entities, including the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office, did not return my request for comment. Does Wyoming, as a state that perhaps embraces drinking much more than other states, overlook liquor law, including when it doesn’t line up with state law? (Rocket-Miner)

“Out of obscurity and out of darkness” (click here) This in-depth published in January 2012 was recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists as among the best in-depth pieces in the U.S. Region 9. Much was made in the media in 2011-12 about the “Mormon Moment,” and even if others were not buying it, at least Mormonism gained more public and media attention than ever before. One aspect I didn’t find often covered, however, was the academic branch of the faith: how is the growth and notoriety of the LDS Church manifest in higher education? (Meridian Magazine)

“Population shifts threaten city sales tax revenues” (click here) Utah’s business outlook in the five fastest-growing and most-shrinking cities in the state. Highlighted by the Deseret News president in a weekly email. (Deseret News)

“Teachers fear reassignment for bringing up issues” (click Teachers fear reassignment for bringing up issues _ News _ rocketminer) Minutes I obtained showed possible reasons for why teachers had this fear from a Sweetwater County district — particularly its superintendent. (Rocket-Miner)

“Expert: Board’s secrecy with meeting begs legal questions” (click Expert_ Board_s secrecy with meeting begs legal questions _ News _ rocketminer) Because the administration of Sweetwater County (Wyoming) School District No. 2 took minutes and another reason, they may have violated state law regarding open records, Wyoming Press Association Attorney Bruce Moats told me. (Rocket-Miner)

“The people or the polls: Who do you believe when it comes to Mike Lee?” (click here) BYU Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy Director Quin Monson was candid in his thoughts and in defending the poll. Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser also gave an insight, previously unreported, as to why Lee would be fine despite a reform to Utah’s caucus-convention system. (That is widely considered to be an effort to help moderates win.) The Utah Democratic Party also offered some interesting nuggets into its role in the rally (or lack thereof). (Utah Policy)


“Everything you need to know about Utah’s largest Trump resistance group” (click here) The first story singularly about Utah Indivisible. The piece saw a second national pickup, by The Good Men Project. (Thought Catalog)

“A Kaysville videographer mobilized his fellow locals to get a feature film onto the big screen” (click here) Privately, I was impressed by Lucas McGraw and volunteers’ by-the-bootstraps efforts to make this happen. (Good Men Project)

“Liz Emery: the polarizing Statesman columnist discusses her life’s course” (click here) A woman roiled a conservative community with opinion pieces in a newspaper that provided quite different perspectives on the dominant religion of the area. This story got second place for Online Feature Reporting for the Society of Professional Journalists, Region 9. (Aggie BluePrint)

“Why the hottest spot in town may be next door” (click here) It was challenging to write about a house, but this feature was an editor’s pick. (City Journals)

“Alan Cumming” (click here) A feature of former James Bond henchman and Spy Kids baddie Alan Cumming. Look at the piece titled “Alan Cumming.” (City Weekly)

“Utah Recycling Alliance aims to score zero” (click here) This recycling organization is going for absolutely nothing to be trashed, but used again — even if it will require more than the blue bins. (City Weekly)

Witness to 9/11″ (click here) USU professor John Carman had a meeting at the World Trade Center get re-scheduled just before the building collapsed. (Utah State University College of Agriculture)

“U.S. Virtual Herbarium Online” (click here) The first national online database of plant collections, located at USU. (Utah State University Agricultural Experiment Station)


LDS Church absent from Medicaid expansion effort” (click here) Many religious groups were found to support the state of Utah using taxes being paid due to the Affordable Care Act to expand the government-sponsored insurance program. The most influential institution in the state, also a religion, was not. This story was an RNA award-winner. (Utah Policy)

“Trump has embraced non-mainstream media, but in Utah, he blocked non-mainstream media” (click here) Secret Service gave a runaround after Capitol police sent me there. Then, an outright “no.” (Good Men Project)

“As bribe allegations fly, claims heat up in South Jordan city council race” (click here) Bribery was the theme, unfortunately, of a municipal race in Utah in 2015. (City Journals)

“Comments from Fox News about Romney not being Christian spark debate” (click here) This article came through spontaneity. As a Deseret News intern, I decided to take initiative to write a story gathering commentary about former presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s faith after Fox News commentator Ainsley Earhardt said that it wasn’t Christian. The Pew Forum of Religion and Public Life in Washington, D.C., was impressed enough with this piece to feature it on their website. (Deseret News)

“Local TV station urges county council to broadcast meetings…” (click here) The station was voluntarily broadcasting Cache County council meetings and asked it to use Government Access Programming. As station manager Jeremy Threlfall said, “Kathy Robinson summed it all up when she said, ‘How did you start out deciding that you wanted to provide this service? I don’t remember us asking for you to provide it.'” (Hard News Cafe)

“Star Wars co-screenwriter talks about the journey to the galaxy far, far away” (click here): The script scribe of Rogue One talked about telling one of the Star Wars tales and more, including why “working for Lucasfilm is like working for the CIA.” (The Good Men Project)

“Abortion letter, mayor’s Facebook posts spark firestorms” (click here) A city council decided to get involved in federal affairs and the fallout was relatively lively and passionate. (City Journals)

“Love, Matheson trade barbs ahead of 2014″ (click here) The story is believed to be the first in any medium to feature debate between the two camps seeking to win a rematch. Love would have needed votes from both conservatives and moderates to have replaced Jim Matheson in Washington, D.C., had Matheson not decided to retire. I found this appearance to be a great reason to reach out to both her and the Matheson camps for reasons. Matheson was not reserved in his opinions. Love campaign manager Dave Hansen, a famous Utah political consultant, opted to blast one of Matheson’s approaches to constituent interfacing along with his response. Matheson edged Love in the 2012 election. (Utah Policy)

“At journalism conference, fundamentalist Mormon experts, survivors speak out” (click here): This included the revelation that folks, led by the first person to press charges against jailed Fundamentalist Latter-day Saint prophet Warren Jeffs, were establishing a democratic election process and teaching residents how to vote, with the charger, who wrote a book about leaving the community, moving back. (The Good Men Project)

“Utah GOP adds same-day ballots to caucus system” (click here): Utah was pulsating with developments to a change in how a state or federal elected official gets on the ballot, so I wanted to make sure that the minor changes were still covered, as they normally would have been news. (Utah Policy Daily)

“‘Disney World or democracy?’ Rep. Mia Love is facing that question from Trump resistance advocates” (click here) The congresswoman was fundraising at a Disney World resort during congressional recess, when advocates were saying that she needed to talk with constituents especially in light of the behavior of the Trump administration. (Utah Stories)

Medium profile (each story has been picked up by at least one publication)


“Across the pond, Aggie legends together again” (click here) Two USU basketball legends who played on the same team for a year, only to find themselves on the same team in Europe. This story was named Best Sports Feature for the Society of Professional Journalists, Region 9. (Utah Statesman)

“On night of reports of his departure, Andersen told players he hadn’t yet been offered Wisconsin job” (click here) A source unique to me let me know details none in the Utah media had learned concerning the departure of former Utah State University football coach Gary Andersen for the University of Wisconsin. This story won first place for online sports reporting, Region 9 Society of Professional Journalists. (Aggie BluePrint)

“The Holy War cometh” (click here) Assessments of the implications of the latest Utah-BYU football rivalry. Sources included a nationally recognized sports historian I found via crowdsourcing who lived in the region of the conference BYU wanted to join, but who attended the U. (City Weekly)

“Aggies generate Heisman buzz for QB Keeton” (click here) It’s not every day that you find a quarterback from a non-BCS program and a land-grant university on the official Heisman Trophy Watch List. When you do, it’s worth finding out how they got there. That was my pursuit with Chuckie Keeton’s success at Utah State University. Not only was Keeton’s accomplishment a rarity; his road to that destination was less-traveled, with some unusual vehicles along the way. Published by MuckRack. (Standard-Examiner)

“Aggies fight for respect even when they contend” (click here) A peering-into the lack of attention a Football Bowl Subdivision championship contender struggled to gain, primarily through a look at attendance figures. (Standard-Examiner)

“Aggies find success breeds great expectations” (click here) A preview of the first season of Utah State football following the best in school history deserved a great lede narrative. (Standard-Examiner)


“Gov. Herbert has created his own rock and hard place” (click here) On Utah’s governor’s policy and communications approach to the state’s land grab. Published in USA Today. (USA Today)

“Utah’s problem: finding a governor who will discourage theocracy but stay home” (click here) I wrote this op-ed in light of Utah’s governor signing a bill that made the blood alcohol content level for a DUI in Utah the lowest of any state in America — a level shared by socialist countries — and after his predecessor had left the job early. (Utah Stories)

“Utah Jazz G.M. Dennis Lindsey’s moves reflect Jack Sparrow’s mantra” (click here) Just months earlier, Kevin O’Connor, 13-year veteran as the Utah Jazz’s general manager, was replaced by Dennis Lindsey. In just a week-plus, Lindsey made several personnel moves that dramatically changed the face of the Jazz franchise, affirmatively calling for a new era after many successful seasons with all-stars Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer—let alone the legacy left by John Stockton and Karl Malone. The severe changes begged commentary—and a comparison of Lindsey to a certain notorious Disney character. The piece was published on ESPN.com. (Deseret News)


One thought on “writing samples

  1. Pingback: I must wear a brace since I’ve been doing that much speak-to-power journalism | Rhett Wilkinson

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