The Newseum featured my work

In 2014, I was in the strange position of working at a newspaper covering racial unrest that was erupting in a little suburb — the same one 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.”

The final front page for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s  Monday, Aug. 11, 2014 edition.

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.

The Newseum is a unique museum in Washington D.C. dedicated to the role of the free press and the First Amendment in our country. I had heard from coworkers and friends that the Newseum prominently featured (and, I believe, continues to feature) Pulitzer Prize-winning photos from the Post-Dispatch’s Ferguson coverage. For a short time, the museum also had a Ferguson exhibit which included my front page.

Although our family has visited Washington somewhat regularly over the years, we never made it to the Newseum. It was so expensive and we were a young family. Even though it would have been personally meaningful to me given my profession, we couldn’t justify the cost the couple times we had a chance.

Earlier this year, I reached out to the Newseum to ask if they had any photos of the Ferguson exhibit featuring my page. They sent me this:

The “Protesting Ferguson” exhibit at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The panel at the left features a front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch designed by Josh Renaud. (Republished with permission of the Newseum)

Pretty cool to see my work featured in that way.

Unfortunately, it seems I have run out of chances to visit the Newseum. Last week, the museum announced it would close at the end of this year. This is disappointing news and a sad mirror of the reality of our shrinking industry.

If you’re out there reading this, subscribe to a newspaper, would you? The free and independent press is a cornerstone of our democracy. We journalists need your support.

Still thankful for the Rams

I’m definitely feeling all the outrage over the Rams leaving St. Louis to return to Los Angeles.

They were, overall, terrible for most of their years in St. Louis. They fleeced us to come here in 1995, and they fleeced us when they left, as we wasted millions hoping to keep them.

Joseph has a Rams jersey that he loves to wear. The older girls want to hate the Rams for going away. Hopefully I can get them all to embrace the Cowboys.

Still, I’d like to remember the bright spots. The “Greatest Show on Turf” years will remain amazing. For me, the Rams run to their second Super Bowl appearance is particularly meaningful.

Continue reading “Still thankful for the Rams”

Remembering Benjamin Israel

Higher education had a term for folks like Benjamin Israel: “nontraditional student.” That applied to him in so many ways.

Benjamin died Monday morning. I wanted to share a little bit about his impact.

I first met Benjamin when I worked at UMSL’s student newspaper, The Current. Unlike the rest of us, he was older, with many years of journalism experience under his belt.

Continue reading “Remembering Benjamin Israel”

Church signs in Ferguson

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:

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Some of these photos were published in the Monday morning Post-Dispatch, and a gallery with more photos is available at STLtoday.com.

Jadzia: newspaper publisher

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. Check out https://www.croasdilldental.com/ to make sure your child’s teeth are properly taken care of.

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)

When news happens

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.

Also, check out the Post-Dispatch’s work on the McGwire confession on the SportsDesigner blog

Comics poll

Okay, it’s no secret. I really enjoy newspaper comics. But one thing that bugs me about the newspaper comics is the way so many papers cling to ancient strips, stale and moldy, drawn by their creators’ grandchildren.

The Post-Dispatch is apparently going to get rid of some strips and bring in fresh, new ones. This is potentially a very good thing. (Disclaimer: I work for the Post-Dispatch)

Want to help decide who they dump? Then vote by clicking here

Of course I have some strips I really would like to see go. I would highly encourage you to vote against Beetle Bailey, Hi & Lois, B.C., and Hagar the Horrible. If only they had included Lola (the bane of my existence) or Mallard Fillmore (I am a conservative, but I hate this unfunny strip) on this survey!

Not all the old strips are stale. In fact, I’ve become a fan of stuff like Mark Trail (whose stories are so bad they are funny), Prince Valiant (good art, decent stories), and Curtis (one of the best-drawn strips, hands-down, with some funny moments).

As far as strips I like… My favorite is Pearls Before Swine, followed by Get Fuzzy, Lucky Cow, The Duplex, and the now-Sunday-only Fox Trot.

So, please, vote. Let’s work together to revitalize the comics page!