SALT LAKE CITY — Some stories we write have great reach and impact, like our look at Jon Huntsman Jr.'s role on the international stage as U.S. ambassador to Russia, or the deportation of Maria Santiago and the reasons behind her decision to send her U.S.-born children back to Utah for education and greater opportunity.
Both pieces gathered international attention for their depth and look at key issues facing the nation — our relationship with Russia and the impact of America's immigration policies currently under President Donald Trump and previously under both Republican and Democratic leadership.
Other stories may make less of a national or international splash, but are no less important to those they are about and in many cases, to those they protect.
Here then is a look at some of the noteworthy work in the Deseret News during the past year. This isn't a Top 10 list nor a comprehensive list, but a snapshot of stories that show the breadth of work being done by a talented, principled staff, including some important stories you may have missed.
Investigative work by reporter Annie Knox followed a tip about misdeeds by an ex-youth symphony director in Utah County. Her April report led with the following:
"Spurred in part by allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful men across the country, three former teenage employees of a youth symphony orchestra in Utah County say one of its longtime leaders either sexually abused them or inappropriately touched them years apart."
Her reporting led to reopened case files that resulted in multiple charges filed in November and December against the now 70-year-old former director as told in these two stories: "Ex-symphony leader charged in sexual misconduct with teen musician" and "Ex-Utah County youth symphony leader charged with sexually abusing 2 more teens."
Reporter Amy Joi O'Donoghue first reported in 2013 an alleged solar energy scheme that sought to attract investors under dubious claims of breakthrough energy technology. She reported and was threatened as she peeled back the story year after year that in October resulted in the following headline: "Judge issues $50 million judgment against 'abusive' solar energy scheme."
As O'Donoghue reported on the $50 million judgment: "That amount is what the court said the U.S. Treasury was defrauded out of through an extensive multilevel marketing scheme perpetuated over 10 years in which no solar energy was produced."
The First Amendment
Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right to gather in the public square focused our reporting on key issues that will continue to play out in 2019. Reporters Kelsey Dallas and Gillian Friedman dissected the place of faith in the public square.
"How 140 bills across the country are redefining religious freedom" provided an analytical look at bills covering LGBT rights to free speech, health care and adoption, among other topics. We went in-depth on adoption and looked for solutions protecting LGBT rights and the rights of religious groups to practice their faith in the public square under the headline: "Why children have the most to lose in the latest battle over LGBT and religious rights."
We also went onto college campuses for a piece published in September that discussed the conflict between religious belief, speech and what is changing at institutions of higher learning under the headline: "Free speech on campus: The real crisis is the confrontation that never happens."
Helping the family
We spent the entirety of the year understanding Generation Vexed — those who struggle with anxiety and why their numbers are growing at such remarkable levels. The complete library of coverage can be viewed here at Deseretnews.com/anxiety and will give you tools to both understand and cope with anxiety. "
We looked at the role of technology on youth and their parents and learned through the Deseret News American Family Survey that technology is the No.1 fearof parents for their children, more than drugs, alcohol or sex. Numbers 2 and 3 were bullying and poor mental health.
Lying and falsehoods have come front and center, whether it's the president claiming the media reports "Fake News" or columnists and reporters calling out the president for repeatedly telling falsehoods or misleading statements, as the Washington Post claims he did 6,420 times in 649 days.
We surveyed the public back in spring and discovered America is becoming more comfortable with lying. We explored the phenomena in this piece: "Americans are increasingly comfortable with many white lies."6 comments on this story
The Deseret News will continue to look at the importance of honesty and integrity next month when it hosts an event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 14 featuring Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Michael Dimock of the Pew Institute.
There were many, many other stories, including our political bookends reporting on then new congressman John Curtis under the January headline, "The agony of John Curtis" and the November story concluding the career of Sen. Orrin Hatch, "The final walk.
These and other stories can be found at Deseretnews.com, and we will continue to report in-depth on those issues most important to you, Utah and the nation in the coming year.
Happy new year.