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.

Jadzia: Spelling Bee finalist!

Jadzia spells a word at the Post-Dispatch spelling bee finals.

Editor’s note: After winning the Ferguson-Florissant district-wide spelling bee for the second straight year, Jadzia reached the finals of the 2017 Post-Dispatch Spelling Bee. Here’s what she had to say about it.

Winning my school bee wasn’t too hard because there were only five contestants! My real challenge started with the district bee. Although not required to move on to the Post-Dispatch bee, it puts in a good bit of practice for me. After a bit of challenge from another student, I won the district bee for my second time in a row.

After that came the regional semifinals, a written bee. I successfully managed to spell 19/20 (or 24/25) out of the words and move on to the finals.

I was very nervous about getting so far, but the fact that I was there and that I had a chance to move on was quite astounding! I did my best. I had studied lists of words that were used for the first several rounds, but beginning with the fifth round, the words were taken from a giant dictionary and the bee got increasingly difficult. I managed to survive to the 6th round, before losing on the word “dromond.”

It was a great experience and I hope to be back in 2018!

Jadzia’s words (in order):

  • incorruptible
  • staccato
  • virgule
  • anschluss
  • minatory
  • dromond

Finding Fire Capt. Frank J. Becker

Frank Becker. Photo reprinted with permission of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Frank Becker. Photo reprinted with permission of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

My great-grandfather Frank Becker was a fireman. I knew that he had been promoted to captain at some point, and some relatives had once told me they thought it had been covered on TV or in the newspaper.

I wanted to see if I could find a news story about the promotion.

Continue reading “Finding Fire Capt. Frank J. Becker”

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”

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.

The cartooning beat

A panel drawn by Bill Watterson from the Friday installment of "Pearls Before Swine."
A panel drawn by Bill Watterson from the Friday installment of “Pearls Before Swine.”

Whenever I get together with extended family, inevitably someone will say “Oh, what do you do at the Post-Dispatch? Write stories?”

The answer, of course, is “no.” My job is to design newspaper pages and develop web projects.

But next time I can give a different answer. This week I had not one but two hard-hitting, investigative stories published in the Post-Dispatch.

So, what topic did I scrutinize with journalistic fervor?

The comics.

Continue reading “The cartooning beat”

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