So today is an interesting convergence for me: It’s both World Press Freedom Day and National Teacher Day.
I’m not alone — and other journalists have certainly suffered far worse than me. I think of the situation in Russia, or the brave reporters in Ukraine.
But we here in the U.S. can’t ignore what’s happening in our own backyard. Public officials increasingly misuse their power to intimidate or attack journalists. Across the country, we see our public discourse is infected with demonizing, dehumanizing rhetoric.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.