On Wednesday, Dec. 7, Yoli and I attended a gala at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. where I was given the domestic John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award. It was my privilege to accept the award and speak briefly about my experience.
Since then, several people have asked for the text of my remarks, so I’m publishing a transcript here for posterity. Below I have also included a video excerpt of me at the event.
In 2014, I was in the strange position of working at a newspaper covering racial unrest that was erupting in the little suburb where I happened to live. As I wrote that year, “That weekend was intense and surreal: I designed the front page of the Post-Dispatch each night, while watching on TV as my town convulsed with anger.”
I designed numerous Ferguson-related Sunday and Monday A1s for the Post-Dispatch in the subsequent weeks, months and years (See some here). I remain proud of all that work. But it was the one from the second night that will forever be ingrained in my memory.
Just over a week after the Michael Brown shooting, I was struck by the idea of photographing church signs in and around Ferguson. I figured many of them would have messages related to the shooting and its aftermath.
On Sunday afternoon, I drove around for a couple hours visiting churches in Ferguson, Dellwood, Berkeley, Cool Valley and St. Louis County. I found some interesting, relevant signs, but not as many as I had hoped.
Here are some of the signs I photographed:
Some of these photos were published in the Monday morning Post-Dispatch, and a gallery with more photos is available at STLtoday.com.
This week the girls are on spring break, and Wednesday was a big day for the Renaud Empire.
All the kids went with Yoli to Friendship International, where Jadzia and Ludi enjoyed a reunion with their former teachers there.
After Friendship, we high-tailed it to the Botanical Garden, hoping to arrive before noon (while it’s still free to get in). The children’s garden was closed, but we had fun visiting the Japanese Garden, seeing the cherry trees in bloom, feeding the koi, running through the maze, and eating snacks on the grass. At one point Jadzia told me something felt strange on her teeth and wanted to show me, but I was indisposed, chasing the other kids. A while later, she came running up with Yoli to tell me some big news. “My new tooth is coming in!” she exclaimed. I look inside her mouth, and sure enough, a new tooth is starting to poke through. I suppose now would be a good time for the baby teeth to start falling out.
Anyway, this afternoon Jadzia decided to publish her own newspaper announcing this big news. It is surprisingly well-done, with a “photo” and some layout. Click the image below to see the whole thing (two pages).
Maybe she’ll go into the family business! (Assuming the business survives the next decade or so)
Working at a newspaper is still an exciting thing to do, even if the future of the industry looks dim.
In the last week, I have had to work during two big breaking news stories. The first was the horrible shooting at ABB in St. Louis. The second was McGwire’s admission yesterday that he took steroids.
My job each time was to design informative, compelling pages. In such situations, there is a lot of collaborative work with my bosses and other designers. Also, important editors are frequently looking over your shoulder. Deadline looms.
It’s an environment I still enjoy and still thrive in. Here’s to hoping that newspapers survive their current morass so they can continue informing the public and serving as a check against abuses by governments or businesses.