Real stories, not click bait, draw reporter Sarah Morton Taggart to community journalismAug 03, 2022 07:48PM ● By Heather Lawrence
Editor’s note: this series highlights the writers behind the stories found here each month.
Sarah Morton Taggart has written for the City Journals since 2019. On any given day you can find her practicing instruments, interviewing people for Midvale Journal stories or out walking in the neighborhood with her family.
If you’ve got time to start a conversation with her (and she would love that), you’ll find she’s an engaged and intelligent voice for Midvale, with lots of life experience.
“I grew up in the Kaysville/Farmington area. I went to Davis High, and then to the U right out of high school,” Taggart said.
Taggart started playing alto saxophone at 12 years old because she related to “The Simpsons” character Lisa. By the time she got to high school—where band was “a big deal”—she earned a spot in a group her conductor took to a conference in Chicago.
At the U, she worked for The Chronicle as a photographer. While there, the IOC hired the student paper to write a newsletter for the Olympic Village during the 2002 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
“We had so much fun getting to know the athletes. We had passes to the Olympic Village, so we would use them to go to parties. The Canadian hockey team was really nice. They had a huge party after Closing Ceremonies and we went over and hung out with them,” Taggart said.
Taggart’s bachelor’s degree in mass communication and sociology got her a job in the U’s Marriott Library. She became a “detective” going through slides of Glen Canyon and writing about their special collections department.
Taggart went to grad school in Chicago where she studied Urban Planning and Policy. After graduation she worked for a nonprofit that supported start-up businesses in Bronzeville, a south side Chicago neighborhood.
“That was a great job and I felt like we were doing a lot to help that community. But in 2008 when the housing bubble burst, we lost our funding and everything fell apart,” she said.
She got a job with Groupon just as the company went public. It was the exact opposite of life at a nonprofit.
“The company was very profitable and I experienced a Silicon Valley type of excess. I was a fact-checker, so I learned about the businesses we partnered with. I know way too much about body waxing and gym memberships,” Taggart said.
When she decided to come back to Utah, a friend who knew she was a multi-instrumentalist asked her to join a band he was forming. At their first practice she met bassist and keyboard player, Steve Taggart, who is now her husband. They still play together and have two sons.
Taggart’s other interests, like the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, has led her to discover that music and writing were in her blood all along.
“I always felt connected to my grandma. She played the saxophone, too, and met my grandpa, who played the trumpet, in high school. They went to Davis High 50 years before me.
“Recently, we found out that my grandma was writing a memoir; she had it all typed out. We had no idea! So now I’m working on finishing it. It was such a gift to find it.”
Taggart said writing for the Journals has helped her see the best in her community and helped her cut people some slack. She’s also passionate about the need for journalism, especially outside of social media.
“I feel lucky that we write about real stories, not click bait. The best thing about working for a small newspaper is bringing people’s stories to life,” she said. “I love that every month I’m learning something new.”