“Regardless of our individual talents, our journalism is best when we work together,” says new Statewatch editor Jeff Parrott.
It takes a team of dogged journalists to cover politics in Utah.
At The Salt Lake Tribune, five political journalists make up the Statewatch team. As editor of the team, I can tell you we’ve got a lot of political ground to cover — from elections and the Legislature, to the congressional delegation and holding public officials accountable for how taxpayer money is spent.
You may have seen their bylines in the paper or their stories on social media. Some are relatively new, and some have covered Utah politics for decades. Here’s a quick introduction to the Statewatch team, so you can get to know us a bit better ahead of November’s midterm election.
Emily Anderson Stern, Statewatch reporter
Starting at The Tribune earlier this summer, Emily is the newest member of the Statewatch team. She’s already breaking news with her investigations into sexual harassment allegations inside the Utah Legislature.
A recent graduate of Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism, she has worked on investigations for The Washington Post and ProPublica, and earlier in her career was a reporter at the Standard-Examiner.
Why does Emily want to cover politics in Utah? Here’s what she says:
“It’s important to me that everyone in Utah — especially those who have traditionally been excluded from the conversation — has the opportunity to share their experiences and make their voice heard when it comes to policy in the state. That isn’t possible without a robust press documenting the actions of those in power, and holding them accountable for what they say and do.”
If you don’t want to talk politics with Emily, ask her about punk rock.
Jacob Scholl, Statewatch reporter
Another Standard-Examiner alum, Jacob also joined the Statewatch team this summer. Jacob has reported on courts and justice issues in Utah and breaking news and police in Idaho.
Most recently he has been reporting on the Little Cottonwood Canyon gondola proposal.
In July, he reported on Snowbird’s purchase of five acres at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon — land where state officials have proposed a base station could be built for the gondola, which would ultimately take skiers to Snowbird’s doorstep.
“I cover politics in Utah because the many people of this state deserve to know what their elected officials are doing,” Jacob told on why he covers politics. “And with how the state is growing and changing, it’s never been more important to provide oversight and ensure public officials remain accountable for their actions.”
When he isn’t working, Jacob enjoys hiking along the Wasatch Front and enjoying Utah breweries.
Bryan Schott, Political corespondent
Bryan, a veteran Utah politics reporter, started his journalism career at 13 years old, when he delivered night and weekend newscasts for his hometown radio station in Colorado. Decades later, Bryan is among the most well-known and well-sourced politics reporters in Utah. He’s been with The Tribune since 2020.
Earlier this year, Bryan was named the state’s best newspaper reporter by the Utah chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
In 2021, Bryan uncovered a conspiracy-fueled group, armed with voter data, that was going door to door to look for evidence of voter fraud. Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, the state’s top elections official, called the group’s actions “creepy” but not illegal, and said the FBI task force charged with handling election security issues has been alerted about the group.
“There’s a saying that politics is the only real sport, and everything else is a game for children,” Bryan said. “Unfortunately, the stakes in the sport of politics get more serious every year. It’s important for people to understand what’s going on.”
Bryan is also a sports fan, and on the weekends can be found cheering the Oklahoma University Sooners.
Robert Gehrke, Columnist
Robert has been with The Tribune since 2004 and has been a journalist for the last two and half decades.
He’s covered news and politics from D.C. to Utah; reported on presidential elections and congressional races; was on a short-lived beat covering a lawmaker’s effort to legalize monkey ownership in the state; and is often the first call for journalists in our newsroom when they’re looking for sources and insider knowledge on Utah politics.
Recently, he’s written about the West’s need to start preparing for a Powell-less future.
“In a democratic society like ours, we make better decisions when people are armed with trusted, reliable information,” Robert said, on why politics reporting is necessary. “On top of that, it’s important, especially in this state, that we serve that role of the public watchdog.”
Through his own brand of accomplished reporter-meets-columnist, Robert provides a perspective on issues in Utah that only a talented journalist with a clear voice could say.
Jeff Parrott, Statewatch editor
And finally, I’m Jeff, the new Statewatch editor. I started with The Tribune in fall 2021.
During my time in journalism, I’ve been fortunate enough to work on a pair of Pulitzer Prize-winning teams:“Lawless,” was a partnership with Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica that reported on failures of the criminal justice system in Alaskan communities; and “The Civilian Casualty Files,” was a yearslong investigation with The New York Times about the U.S. military’s airwar and the lack of accountability for those airstrikes.
I’m also former active duty U.S. Army officer and deployed with a cavalry squadron to Afghanistan in 2011 (Ready and Forward!).
Successful missions, whether in journalism or the military, happen because of teamwork. Regardless of our individual talents (there is a lot of talent in this newsroom), our journalism is best when we work together — just as we’ll be doing to cover the midterm elections this fall and the Legislature’s general session next year.
If you have questions or comments about The Tribune’s politics coverage, I can be reached at [email protected]