Visual Journalism and Reportage Drawing

  • Cover, Fox in the Field, No. 1, spring 2015. Illustration by Leslie Ding.
    Cover, Fox in the Field, No. 1, spring 2015. Illustration by Leslie Ding.
  • Spread from "Buried in Missouri" by Eden Lewis.
    Spread from "Buried in Missouri" by Eden Lewis.
  • Page from "A City is Not a Home" by Sophia Brown.
    Page from "A City is Not a Home" by Sophia Brown.
  • Spread from "That is a Hard Question" by Emily Blau.
    Spread from "That is a Hard Question" by Emily Blau.
  • Spread from "Welcome to the Horizon Club" by Alex Chiu.
    Spread from "Welcome to the Horizon Club" by Alex Chiu.
  • Page from "Clayton Greyhounds" by Jack Herzog.
    Page from "Clayton Greyhounds" by Jack Herzog.

This communication design studio, taught by professor Douglas Dowd, focused on the application of journalistic practices and values for the generation of public interest pieces with both written and visual elements. Through studio practice, work in the field, subject reporting, and nonfiction writing, students explored the tradition and practice of visual journalism.

Students first completed assignments as part of Race & Ethnicity: A Day of Discovery and Dialogue, a University-wide event February 5-6, 2015. The two-day event consisted of a series of panels and discussions exploring critical issues facing our community—specifically the subjects of race and ethnicity. During the week leading up to the event, each student in the course was assigned a St. Louis neighborhood to draw. In addition, a small group of students was recruited to cover the event as visual reporters, drawing and photographing on site as the discussions unfolded. The best of this work was collected and presented on-screen throughout the event and shared via social media, creating a reflection on and record of the day that captured the spirit of the discussions and the level of urgency in the room.

Later in the semester, students were paired with local organizations focused on social and human justice work, and asked to develop a complete narrative and visual representation that told the stories of the individuals and environments central to those organizations. Final projects reflected students’ experiences and research, and consisted of 1,000- to 2,000-word narratives and a suite of images.

Through this project, students contended with the challenges of visual reportage. As Professor Dowd said, they "wrestled with the relationship between 'the facts' and 'the story,' or more precisely, the way certain facts lead in the direction of—or are selected so as to construct—one story versus another." Students had to choose a voice, selecting between a first-person narrative and third-person reporting. These explorations pushed them to confront difficult topics and engage in uncomfortable discussions with sensitivity and honesty.

A public exhibition of student work was held at WashU's Olin Library on May 1, 2015.

The following students participated in the course:

Emily Blau, "That is a Hard Question"
Sophia Brown, "A City is Not a Home"
Alex Chiu, "Welcome to the Horizon Club"
Christian Del Rio, "Sacrificing Health to be Like Everyone Else"
Leslie Ding, "More Than Food"
Kim Gagnon, "A Few Blocks From Cherokee"
Jack Herzog, "Clayton Greyhounds"
Eden Lewis, "Buried in Missouri"
Brandon Pogrob, "What We Do Have"
Ben Shafer, "Bridge the Gap"
Elin Wojciechowski, "Unveiling Death"

Media

Fox in the Field

Partners

Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum
The Bridge Outreach
Clayton High School boys lacrosse team
Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement
Operation Food Search
St. Louis Office for Developmental Disability Resources
WashU Voices project