Covering Pioneer Days and all the fires

Friday , July 25, 2014 - 4:26 PM

Andy Howell

The Standard-Examiner was the place for Pioneer Days coverage.

From July 19-25, Standard-Examiner staffers produced a dozen stories related to the holiday. We posted 439 photos of the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo, the Ogden Pioneer Days parade, as well as parades and related activities in Bountiful, Clinton and Kaysville.

Leading our visual coverage were photographers Ben Zack and Briana Scroggins, with contributions from Robby Lloyd, Brian Nicholson and Ruth Malan.

The highlight of our coverage was a touching video produced by Ben and Briana focusing on mutton busting. The video captures the “game faces” of the kids competing as well as the colorful, fun side of the event itself.

If you have never seen mutton bustin’ in person, then I highly recommend you watch Ben and Briana’s delightful three-minute video available on our website.

The visual coverage overall captured a wide range of emotions associated with Utah’s unique holiday celebration. Our photos showed the joy and family togetherness of the holiday through photos from the parades and breakfast gatherings. Our photographers also captured the faces and action of the grueling five-day rodeo, with the backdrop of scenic Ogden Pioneer Stadium in Lorin Farr Park. The photos of the rainbow over the mountains captured in the gallery from day 4 of the competition are breathtaking.

But our visual coverage also had a lighter side. Columnist Mark Saal ventured out to the rodeo grounds to find out just how much people knew about the holiday they were celebrating. The answers are hilarious. You can watch his video as part of his “Saal in 60 Seconds or So” on our website. His segment runs every Wednesday as part of our Daily News Update.

Saal’s humor wasn’t just on display in a video format. His column about the true origins of “Pie and Beer Day” and how to properly celebrate this take on the holiday was one of the most read Pioneer Days stories.

Saal’s coverage wasn’t the only unique angle we looked at in our coverage of an event that has been held annually for decades.

Aside from spot coverage, we had stories on an honored cowboy, four sisters associated with the Whoopie Girl, and centenarians planning to ride in the Ogden Pioneer Days parade.

If you missed these stories in our print edition this week, you can catch up on our coverage online at

I was especially proud of our Pioneer Days coverage because it also came while reporters and photographers were scrambling to cover fires breaking out all over -- both in the mountains and city council chambers.

Photos and video from our coverage of the fire that threatened homes along the Ogden bench and in Morgan County moved on national wires. I saw one of Ben’s photos from the Tunnel Hollow Fire in the Arizona Daily Star while I was visiting Tucson Friday.

Then there was our coverage of the fires breaking out in city government. Cathy McKitrick’s in-depth, ongoing coverage of the firing of Pleasant View Police Chief Scott Jackson, and Bryon Saxton’s reporting on yet another flareup in South Weber, are examples of the importance of community journalism and its watchdog role. Both these incidents show how citizens have a right to know what is going on in their government -- no matter how small that government may be.

In the book “Saving Community Journalism,” author Penelope Muse Abernathy points out that “our” government has grown to 55,000 legally or politically recognized entities making decisions that affect us. But there are only 1,500 daily newspapers left to keep an eye on their activities.

This week our journalists showed how they can balance coverage of festivities and breaking news, with in-depth investigative coverage of government to give you a complete picture of what is important for you to know, and what you want to see.

Andy Howell is executive editor. He can be reached at 801-625-4210 or

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