The Journalism That Inspires You

newspapers

At the beginning of each MCOM 407 class, I ask students to answer this question:

What’s the best piece of journalism you’ve ever seen? What made you say, “Wow, I wish I’d made that” and why did it make such a powerful impression on you?

Here’s what students have to say:

Spring 2017

Gay marriage, a Year Later–“Instead of talking about legislative actions it followed the stories of different gay marriages that took place within that year and the background of their relationships. I liked it because it took a different angle than most pieces. ”

Tinder and the Hookup-Culture–“he story explicitly illuminated how the women users are expected to satisfy dangerous gender specific stereotypes that often left them feeling confused and powerless. The story was supplemented with illustrious and frank interviews from millennials who were candid about their experiences. I immediately recall a portion of the article where the author described being in a bar and literally watching 20-somethings use Tinder, opting to overlook direct communication to connect with potential partners at the bar. Bars are typically rife with romantic and sexual opportunities so it was fascinating to see a documented account that exemplifies how social media is diminishing the power and use of traditional communication.”

The Story of the South African Quaalude–“It made such a powerful impact on me because the narrative was entertaining and the whole package was very well edited/produced. Anything VICE news does is heavily contrasted from the usual things that big news corporations and I enjoy that.”

Greenland is Melting Away and The Obama Doctrine–“I’m most impressed by pieces of journalism that are supported by incredible reporting. That will win me over any day.”

Mother, daughter fire escape–“This was on of the best to me because there was/is a lot of controversy surrounding the photo about ethics. I think the photographer captured something that eventually helped Boston with their construction of fire escapes.”

Bombing survivors mark milestone–“This video was the best piece of journalism in video that I have seen because it talks about survivors of the Boston marathon marking there milestone by completing the Boston marathon on its 120 celebration in 2016. It leaves such a powerful impression on me because that was such a tragic day for many people around the world and it makes you feel empathy and compassion towards them for finishing the marathon in such the grace that they did. ”

Unsettled Journeys–“In the story, Bowie profiles three teenagers, each with a unique story, but ultimately sharing one thing: they’re immigrants. The students all attend Patterson High School in Baltimore City, where immigrants make up one third of the student population. This was one of the first multimedia stories that I thoroughly read and left me wondering when a follow-up would be produced. I live just outside of the city and often go to Patterson Park with my dog. I’d noticed the diversity on any given Sunday, but I never considered how many second-language English speaking families and students were close to me. The struggle and hardships these students go through just to learn are almost incomprehensible to someone like me who has few things stacked against me and my education.”

The Yellow House–” guess this might not be a ‘real’ piece of journalism, but it’s something I read a couple years ago that stuck with me because the writer paints such a detailed picture. I love when you get to write creatively in journalism, it’s one of my favorite things. Reading this story just makes me want to become a better writer.”

Oprah interviews Michael Jackson–“Winfrey took bold stands by asking daring questions.  The job of a journalist is to get the facts and she did just that.  For example, Winfrey asked Jackson: Are you a virgin? Did you get into skin bleaching? And have you always wanted to be white? These questions were very bold, some would even consider those questions to be rude.  However, from asking these questions Winfrey was able to gather that Jackson suffered from a skin condition called vitiligo and that he was always proud of his blackness and never wanted to change that.  As the interviewee, he expressed how certain questions Winfrey asked made him feel embarrassed (i.e. the virgin question) and other allegations made him mad (i.e. skin bleaching), but these questions got Winfrey the full story on Jackson.”

Man who saved 150-year-old church facing another fight–” It is the first piece of journalism that I watched that felt sincere and wasn’t pushing an agenda. It also tugged at my emotions.”

Israel, Gaza, War & Data–“By Gilad Lotan, the piece demonstrated using an extremely demonstrative and visual tool called a network graph to show the disconnect between both sides, reinforcing what many now refer to as the echo chamber created by social media. … While I had had this hunch for a long time (as the idea drew me to want to research it further), this piece of journalism was so powerful to me because it not only reinforced what I had considered as an effect of social media, but better informed it with data that someone without a degree could digest.”

John Oliver on Journalism–“The segment exposes the transformation of journalism from an vital public service into a cynical business model designed to attract eyeballs for paid advertisers.”

Invisible Child–” The creativeness in which Elliott organized the information was something I never would’ve thought of doing as a journalist. It made such a powerful impression on me because it was a piece that really tugged on the heartstrings while still informing people of the issue of homelessness among youth.”

Dog becomes legendary for daily walks to twon–“The piece was so powerful to me because not only am I an animal lover, but it was so well done. The reporter was able to get shots of the dog going about his daily routine without disturbing him. He also got footage and sound by somehow putting a camera and microphone on the dog.”

Undue force–“It offered perspectives from all sides and made the story feel more human than the other news reports that were coming out during the time. It put a story behind every face rather than marking them as a statistic. It also gave a sort of conversational feel between solutions offered by people and the authorities/law makers logistical ideas of them. ”

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine–“It might just be sentimentality, but I remember it as the first work I read that got me really into journalism as a media for consumption and then as something I’d like to pursue as a career. I remember it for so starkly contrasting with Jeremy Scahill’s ‘Blackwater.’ The latter was a lot of red yarn bringing disparate scenes and characters together. ‘The Big Short’ was a story that compellingly brought together characters, scenes and a narrative all presented by a narrator with a perspective and an interpretation.”

Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All–“It was a simpler time before I knew much about Trump, and that piece really opened my eyes.”

9/11: The Falling Man–” The creators looked into who might have been pictured in the photo and talked to the families of possible victims. It was just interesting to see how in depth they went to bring closure to families who lost loved ones and never found the bodies. Also, 9/11 had a big impact on my own life, so seeing that people truly care and do want to find ways to help those dealing with their losses was incredible.”

Champion Cavs drink it all in after lifting Cleveland’s title drought–“This is one article that touched me just because the story of LeBron’s legacy was rewritten. I am a fan of him and his finals performance and reading about how emotional of a victory it was inspired me to wear one of his brand’s wristbands everyday. I enjoy reading about heart-touching moments in sports and this was one of them. ”

Coyotes by Ted Conover–“Conover disguised himself as an undocumented immigrant and traveled across the border with other immigrants, documenting his experience and the people he met. It left such a powerful impression on me because of the in-depth reporting and research done before, during, and after his experience. He documented every event and character truthfully, whether in good light or in bad. I also enjoyed how as a journalist, he was able to express his feelings and opinions (something many journalists don’t believe they can do in their articles) to help the reader better understand his predicament.”

The Long Fall of Phoebe Jonchuck–“This was a feature story with images,audio,video and more. This made a major impression because of the way it chronicled the events of her last few days and really told a compelling story. It made you feel like you were there witnessing these events as they were happening.”

Humans of New York–“It is a fairly simple idea, but I really like how the author captured the simplicity yet beauty in strangers on the streets. Some might say this is not journalism, but I believe it is because he is sharing stories of peoples lives that leave an impact on the readers.” And: ” Everyone has their own story and you pass a lot of people everyday that you will probably never know. Humans of New York and even other spin-offs let you understand more about humans and how they got to where they are. You never never judge a book by its cover and I would love to do stories like that one day.” Also: “He makes it his priority to cover stories of people who don’t believe that have a voice or feeling that their stories aren’t worth being told. Every time he puts out a new series of stories, I make an effort to read them just so that I could learn something new and/or have a better understanding of something.”

Zaevion Dobson honored at 2016 ESPY Awards–“His story really touched me. I also thought the way that his story was presented held great impact. The narrator presents Dobson in a creative way which I felt brought more to the piece.”

Snow Fall–“I think it’s pretty easy to see why I was so impressed with this piece of journalism. I had never seen anything like that, and if the story hadn’t been done is such a manner, I don’t know if I would have been extremely interested in it otherwise.” Also: ” it showed me that there are so many possibilities in journalism and writing. It showed that journalism can be a story not just informational news.”

Fall 2016

What does Freddie Gray mean to you?–“This video interviewed many diverse  people about Freddie Gray on year after his death and received many genuine perspectives and opinions on what happened, including the police commissioner. The ability for the makers of this video to be completely transparent in their interviewing made a powerful impression on me.”

Tale of two Baltimores–“Baynard Woods came to speak my feature writing class last semester. Professor Scharper assigned us to read his article prior to class. While reading I thought, ‘Wow, I remember seeing the guy with the gas mask. I wonder how the writer got all this information from him.’ The story was captivating, detailed, thorough and personal. The back story of his life truly mesmerized me. There was a tragically ironic theme of ‘fire’ that glued the story together. Woods explained his shadowing process to the class and that added even more texture to the story. He gathered detail that you could only find by being on-the-scene with your subject. … This story provided an insider follow-up with a recognizable protester from the Baltimore Uprising. I like how the story touched on topics such as combating the cycle of generational drug addiction, discrepancy of state GPA calculations, trauma of gang violence and the events surrounding the Baltimore Uprising. ”

A Father’s Initiative–“The story revolved around the life of a 19-year-old single father from Milwaukee, Paul Gayle, who took parenting classes to help both him and his daughter rise above their challenging life situation. Saslow spent several days with the young man and fully captured his situation, mindset and attitude toward life.  The story included family members, counselors and even a local store clerk who knew the father.  The story was personal and humanistic, yet informative and educational.  It took readers inside of Gayle’s life and showed them a less understood perspective.”

The mixed-up brothers of Bogota–“The best piece of journalism that I’ve ever seen was an article titled the “Mixed Up Brothers of Bogoto”. I loved how the article was written like a story and how it was so descriptive and gave the reader enough information in order to get a visual picture.”

Invisible Child–” The entire piece made me go “wow,” i enjoyed every bit of it. With the writing it was phenomenal and I felt every word as if I was experiencing her life with her. The photos just added to the piece and made me become one with the piece. I have never been so into a piece as I was with this one. The way the story was written and the multimedia aspects made this piece beyond powerful. I wish I could make something as captivating and memorable as this piece.” Another student wrote: ” This story was so graphic in its detail and really connected you to the family and their everyday lives. Despite its length, it really captivated me and made me want to continue reading each section, which I think is hard to do with the millennial generation.”

Tales from the Millennials’ Sexual Revolution–“It was very investigative and thoroughly researched with interviews, anecdotes, statistics, and also the subject matter.”

Crime and Punishment–“This story went into specific detail relating to the lives of many different people, and then tied all loose ends in the end, bringing everything full circle.  The imagery and extensive research is what made the story so complete.”

Moneyball–“Some of the best work I have ever read was the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis. I’m not sure if this falls under the journalism category, but it follows the movement of analytics and saber metrics into the baseball world. I first saw the movie, and then the book. I enjoyed the book more than the movie, because of the in-depth explanation of every mode and choice made by the Oakland Athletics. The book got me hooked onto statistics and analytics.”

The Long Fall of Phoebe Jonchuck–“It told the story, book style, of the murder of five-year-old Phoebe Jonchuck at the hands of her father, Jon Jonchuck, showcasing just how her family and the Florida Child Protective Services Department failed her. Though it is a rather morbid read, I really appreciated the author’s style of storytelling, leaving us wanting more at the end of each ‘chapter’ until we reached the tense climax. I think it had such a profound impact on me because it directly appealed to my emotions and curiosity. I mean, there lies the story of an adorable little girl, whose life was tragically taken by a father who had long since shown signs of instability. It also made me mad, because people who had ample opportunity to save her, were all caught up in asking, ‘what ifs?’, and it made me mad because it didn’t have to end like that for her or any endangered innocent child.”

30 for 30 Without Bias–“This documentary detailed the historic basketball career of Len Bias at the University of Maryland College Park.  Bias was the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA draft.  However, two days after his monumental achievement, Bias overdosed on cocaine.  Four days after his death more than 11,000 people filled the university’s gym for a memorial service.  The documentary was full of stories about Bias’ life from family and friends.  It was really powerful watching it and observing the raw emotion on from each individual in the film.”

30 for 30 Fantastic Lies–“The short documentary details the lawsuit that accused a number of players on the Men’s Duke Lacrosse team of raping a female on campus. The piece really stuck with me do to the way the film maker told the story from the point of view of the college boys being put through such a unique situation. The testimonies of different people and evidence shown in the documentary were loaded with such detail, I felt as if I was a part of the case.”

30 for 30 Soccer Stories & Higher Stakes by Viceland–“Both were really well done and provided good insight on the events. ”

Rise and Scam–“This profile truly provided me with a great level of insight that I could not predict. I was surprised, I was captivated and I was entertained. This writer for Fader magazine changed my entire perception of Joanne the Scammer. The day before I read this article I did not care about Joanne the Scammer. I didn’t think the jokes were funny, I thought the persona was a stereotype and I thought Joanne the Scammer was another man on social media dressing up as a woman to go viral. After reading this story I really said ‘Wow, I never would’ve known that.’ Now I catch myself watching Joanne the Scammer videos and even though I still don’t find the persona to be that funny, I feel very invested. The fact this story completely changed my mind made me appreciate it even more. ”

Here is what happens when you cast Lindsay Lohan in your movie–“I love the entertainment industry and everything about the real lives celebrities live, and one feature that I loved was one that focused on the life of Lindsay Lohan and how she lived day to day while filming. Although we always knew she was kind of insane, the piece goes in depth and shows her true characteristics. It’s honest and real without being too vicious, which is what usually happens to a celebrity that everyone loves to hate. The feature was in the New York Times and definitely gave the readers a new perspective on the infamous Lohan.”

Snow Fall–“It was one of my favorites because of all of the audio and visual components the author used to put the story together. It allowed me to really get a better grasp of this story and visualize it in my mind.”

13 Seconds in August–“This piece stood out to me because it used a variety of mediums (text, audio, visual, etc.) to attract an audience and emotionally connect them with those impacted. The piece had text elements, describing the scene and detailing the event, but it also used an overhead picture of the collapsed bridge as an interactive learning platform. All over the bridge, crumpling asphalt and sinking cars acted as the hubs for click-able icons, opening up sound bites and video footage of survivors and other impacted by the event.”

Spring 2016

Thousands pack D.C. for 20th anniversary of Million Man March–“I love this article and the included media because it sheds light on something positive and directly expresses the views of the people while also educating readers on the history of the issue. My goal as a journalist is to bring light to things that are often looked over and I think this article encompasses my goal from the writing to the visual coverage.”

Undue force–“This multimedia piece is overwhelmingly amazing. The different stories and the detailed information made you emotionally distraught. It is an investigatory piece on police brutality in Baltimore City. This piece does not only make me say, ‘Wow I wish I made this,’ but ‘Wow I can’t believe this!’ ” & “I would say the most important thing this piece taught me was to not be afraid to go out and interview as many people as possible. You can never have too many sources. Due to the amount and quality of sources, the credibility of the story was not questioned, in my opinion.”

From prison, two fans root for No. 88–“It made me go ‘wow’ because it explained the emotional story to one of the best receivers in the NFL. Thomas’ background wasnt’ known by many and O’Connor tells the story through his mother and grandmother. Their quotes and actions make the story come alive and show just how much Thomas missed through his childhood because of how they weren’t around for him. It makes you root for Thomas as a person and a player.”

E:60- The Butterfly Child–“The best piece of journalism that I’ve seen is an ESPN E:60 about a boy named Jonathan Pitre who suffers from Epidermolysis Bullosa. The segment touches on how his disease has affected his life and the life of his mother, and how he is overcoming that and how he has become an inspirational speaker. It made me feel something, not only because the story was sad, but they also just had so many twists and turns that made the story deeper.”

Invisible child–” The story impressed me because of its depth. I felt as if the story had many dimensions and I was able to get a real sense of the conditions Dasani and her family were going through. I was able to sympathize as well as empathize with this story. One of the biggest reasons why I love this story is because it moved me emotionally and I would hope to do the same when i write stories whether that be through laughter or tears.”

The yellow house–“The specific and colorful descriptions of the street and places of New Orleans, as well as those of the characters, made me feel like I was there experiencing this all while just reading. The piece also gave a personal look at her families struggle after the storm, something that l didn’t see told on my local news.”

The case against high school sports–“I would eventually like to pursue a career in sports broadcasting so what I admire about this piece is how it makes a sports story into hard news. I believe that often times sports, although extremely popular, are regarded as not as serious as other types of news.”

How municipalities in St. Louis County, Mo., profit from poverty–“The article itself was not the most visually stimulating piece, however it turned a topic I was interested in into a reality and stuck with me for a while. I admire most Balko’s ability to take several story lines and tie them together fluidly to make one valid point.”

Breaking the Silence–“The website ties the story together very well with various forms of multimedia. It made such a huge impression on me because I kept being drawn in by each component of the story. Every graphic and sentence made me want to read more and I became more sympathetic as the story went on. ”

Kevin Carter’s vulture photo–” A lot of controversy was surrounding this award winning piece but I don’t buy it. I see a young boy who is almost the size of the bird. I don’t see the bird about to eat the boy, I think it’s ridiculous. ”

The work of Louis Theroux (book, documentaries, The Nazis)–“I think the reason it made such a powerful impression on me is how easily he can get people to talk. Although Louis, a quintessentially reserved English man, doesn’t seem like someone people would open up to, yet he manages to do it and in professional and calm way. I would like to develop more of this as I find myself quite an awkward person, so adopting his technique of using that to my benefit to seem less intimidating to the subjects could improve my interviewing skills. I would love to, in the future, be able to make my own documentaries on similar topics.”

A Facebook story: a mother’s joy and a family’s sorrow–“I still revisit this story once in a while because it was, in my opinion, a revolutionary piece of journalism for the year it was published (2010). It most likely wasn’t the first piece that incorporated social media, but it’s definitely a strong example of journalism in the digital age. … Shana’s story in particular has since encouraged me to explore a brand of journalism that is out of my comfort zone, but a brand that can still be used to tell beautiful stories.”

The U–” The piece spoke to me so much because I had never watched a sports documentary that wasn’t just painting a picture of the perfect team. It dove right into the drama and issues that surrounded such a powerful football team. A lot of football documentaries have highlighted teams in their best light. 30 for 30 has been able to stay objective and not favor the team.”

The mixed-up brothers of Bogota–“Despite the story being insanely long, the reader is compelled to continue to the very end. The story is broken up into organized sections and also incorporates multimedia components.”

Mike Schuh goes over the edge–“I find Mike Schuh to be an incredible reporter, he has taught me a ton. I remember him showing me this package when I worked with him and I found it to be fantastic because his voice is strong, it’s a light story, but he makes it fun and interesting at the same time. He is not just reporting, he is actually repelling off a building. It just shows how you as a reporter should and can go above and beyond. ”

ESPN First Take – Charles Barkley: “Bulls 72-Win Team Would Kill Warriors”–“They do a good job at keeping their audience engaged by incorporating the social relevancy of their audience. They always have fast paced graphics and different graphic templates, which is good because people like seeing new things every once in a while.”

Renegade Miami football booster spells out illicit benefits to players–“This work struck me based on the sheer depth of it. From firsthand accounts, to financial documents, to individual pages for each alleged player involved, this was the most extensive journalism piece I ever indulged in. ”

Mrs. Kelly’s Monster–“I think the author does an amazing job telling the story of Mrs. Kelly’s ‘monster’ without even explicitly telling us what it is. The trick is that he gives us so much detail that we infer and completely understand what is happening to Mrs. Kelly throughout the story. The pacing also plays a big role in why I like it because it was done so exceptionally that it allows tension to build naturally. Some writers like to build the tension themselves, but the best writers know how to pace and can build the tension just by describing what’s happening with the fine details.”

Snowfall–“This piece of journalism made me wish I had created it because it is so in-depth. It makes you feel like you are actually at the Avalanche at Tunnel Creek. It is also incredibly beautiful while being educational.” & “The reason I was so amazed by it was the fact that he was able to ad the graphics of the mountains into the story so seamlessly and the attention to every small detail in the story structure with vivid descriptions of the events was fantastic. It made a powerful impression on me because it was a monumental breakthrough for how we write articles in today’s society and it has inspired me to try to emulate him. ”

Fall 2015

Eazy-E: The Ruthless Life of an American Gansta–“The story’s timeliness and angle was exemplary and the writing was dangerously intriguing. I had seen the NWA biopic, ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ and this was the perfect follow-up to such a legendary and resonating story. The account of Eazy-E, the member of the group who died of AIDS, left an impacting echo in today’s hip-hop and popular culture, so it made a very strong impression on me.”

Serial–“The fact-checking and extensive research necessary to produce the Serial podcast is extremely impressive to me. Part of why this series is so intriguing is because it’s a great example of how journalists have to wear multiple hats when it comes to reporting, fact-checking, and telling a  compelling story through a technological medium.”

The Serengeti Lion–“I love this piece by National Geographic about the lions because it encompasses multiple aspects of journalism into a interactive multimedia project. I think the combination of audio, photos and words creates a much more exciting experience than words would have alone. The website made such a powerful impression on me because I know how to create a basic website, but nothing this impressive, but I would like to create something this successful. And I love animals!”

Manti Te’o’s Dead Girlfriend Is A Hoax and In Cold Blood–“The two are vastly different from each other, but they both represent two of my favorite aspects of journalism. Deadspin’s story represents the investigative, ‘oh wow!’ aspect of journalism that we all appreciate. Deadspin was able to take a well-known story at the time and do research that any one of us could have done, in order to discover that it was all built on a lie. The aspect of the story that made me wish that I made it was the fact that I truly could have. All of the resources used by Deadspin were ones that are readily available to anybody. Meanwhile, Capote’s ‘In Cold Blood’ is the literary journalism that I appreciate. Capote was able to take a real storyline and adapt it into a novel-esque structure. He was able to combine outstanding writing with a captivating storyline.” Another student on In Cold Blood: “This piece means a lot to me because I really want to cover real news and cover stories similar to this tragedy. Capote altered the journalism world and made it a norm to create and cover non fictional journalism pieces.”

Rand University–“This piece was part of the ESPN 30 for 30 series that documents some of the greatest moments in sports, as well as some of tough subjects, such as the struggling life of Randy Moss. The ability of the producers to capture Moss’ life from childhood to adulthood without sparing any detail made me realize how incredible of a feature this actually was. The sources that spoke as well as the content that was touched on made me feel like I was right in the story, as well as allowed me to see the genuine emotion of some of those involved. It was truly a remarkable piece.”

The Photojournalism of Dorothea Lange–“I love it because it’s a black and white photo that shows so much emotion as do a lot of Pulitzer photos, but this one resonates with me.”

The Russia Left Behind–“The story contained nine points on the railroad, and each time you clicked a point, it told a different part of the story. I enjoyed that one because of the time and effort that went in to preparing it. Not only did the author write a long article that was interesting and kept the readers attention, but it also showed that stories can be told not only with words, but with interaction as well. The old saying, ‘a picture is worth 1,000 words,’ there’s definitely some truth to that, and visual storytellers, like photojournalists, definitely have a leg up on non-visual stories. At least in my opinion. I love stories like this, mostly because I also love coding and creating something like this story, with all of the pictures and interaction, from start to finish, is simply incredible to me.”

Invisible Child–“The best piece of journalism I’ve ever seen was the one about Dasani and her family. Her family lives in New York City and is ravished by poverty as they are homeless. The story impressed me because of its depth. I felt as if the story had many dimensions and I was able to get a real sense of the conditions Dasani and her family were going through. I was able to sympathize as well as empathize with this story. One of the biggest reasons why I love this story is because it moved me emotionally and I would hope to do the same when i write stories whether that be through laughter or tears.”

The photojournalism of Devin Allen–“The photographs show the heartfelt struggles that the inner city not but 15 minutes from Towson University face on a daily basis. I enjoy understanding how people think and Devin Allen captured the thoughts of the protest visually through various images. One in which went viral and made it to the front cover of Time Magazine.  His achieved this honor by doing something he loved, and I hope to be able to do that also through my writings.” Wrote another student: ” As a Maryland native, it was very inspiring to see his striking photo on the cover of a national publication. His photography is very honest and unfiltered and that’s something I strive for in my own photography so I was very impressed by his work, and I’ve been following his career ever since.”

Portraits of the Homeless by Lee Jeffries–“The photos are breathtaking. Jeffries take subjects that are so often seen as ugly and shows incredible, often unexpected, beauty. I am not a photographer so the magic Jeffries captured always entranced me, not only wondering how he did it technically, but how he had the eye to see what so few have seen. Jeffries actually looked where no others bothered to and found something amazing. The article details how Jeffries stumbled into the project, quite haphazardly. As he was wondering around taking photos before a marathon, a homeless woman reprimanded him for trying to take her photo without permission. Instead of ignoring her and walking away, Jeffries apologized and opened a conversation with the woman and the impact from that small action sparked his entire project and approach. I think the most interesting thing about this whole project is Jeffries was an amateur, an unknown hobbyist, who has gained attention by his unique approach and the raw appeal of his project. I suppose this small fact gives me some hope that as an unknown amateur, I might be doing big things one day. As cheesy as it sounds, and as much as I know ‘everyone had to start somewhere,’ I’m always a fan of seeing the regular people do extraordinary things.”

Snowfall–” I thought the pictures and interactive map were very creative and well thought out. The writer really did a lot of reporting and researching, which made his story really stand out. It still stands out to me today, three years later. This was the first story I thought of when I thought of a story I wish I could have written.”

The Jinx–“I’m not sure if I would call this the best piece of journalism I’ve ever seen, but it did wow me, and I’d love to work on a project like The Jinx. It is a six-part HBO documentary from 2015 that told the story of Robert Durst, the estranged son of a New York real estate mogul who was acquitted in the murder of a neighbor and suspected in the deaths of two others. The documentary produced evidence that led to Durst’s arrest and being charged with murder, and the series even culminated with an on air confession, of sorts.”

NSA Decoded–“This article attempts to summarize the files leaked by Edward Snowden and the full implications of the leaks. The files where so massive in size and complicated in nature that it required very delicate treatment on how it should be made public. This article for me does a great job of summarizing something of great scale and still retaining its significance and impact. I also love the use of technology, it makes something complicated much more easier for the untrained reader to understand.”

Black Guerrilla Family interactive graphic–“My first semester of Towson, I went to a discussion abnout interactive media when it comes to news stories.”

Sleeping Soldiers by Tim Hetherington–“I’ve always admired Hetheringron’s work,  this photo series in particular because the images showed a side of the war we don’t often see. The set of 12 images captures various soldiers sleeping in their bunks. It’s a vulnerable and sweet moment drastically contrasting most combat images the media shows. Hetherington sho the day to day of life  in  the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan.I wish I shot these because they are such simple images yet contain so much commentary on the many layers of war. Yes there is combat, but the majority of war are these in-between moments of day to day life in the Valley.”

Horror before the Beheadings: ISIS Hostages Endured Torture and Dashed Hopes–“The clear details and captivating interviews made me wish I would have written the article. The article was so detailed that it makes the reader feel like they’re there. The way that the article was written stirred up my emotions and also gave me more insight into what the victims’ lives were like living under ISIS.”

The White Slums–“South Africa is my top bucket list destination. I’ve always wanted to visit and experience the beautiful land, many cultures, and rich history of this country. This video documentary presents a different view on the ramifications of the apartheid system and the effects of a new, democratic government since the first free elections in 1994, addressing crime, race relations, socioeconomic status reversal, urban/rural forms of poverty, reverse discrimination, emigration and white flight.”

Jerry Football–“My favorite article that I had ever read was a feature piece on Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys’ GM and Owner, however, after Diamond presented her Eazy-E article in class today, I began to read it and I really enjoy that one as well. These articles have a lot in common, but what makes them enjoyable is that they take controversial figures and present them honestly and unbiased, which shows how genuine they are and really humanizes them.”

The Many Lives of Adam Yauch–“After Adam “MCA” Yauch died in 2012, Rolling Stone published a tribute to him, reflecting on his prime and his later years. The piece really struck me because the author shared a side of Yauch that I never would have imagined. I love in-depth interviews and profiles about public figures. I want to be able to capture someone’s essence in an effortless, eloquent piece. I want to make people think about ideas or concepts that they may have never thought about before.”

Fall 2014

13 Seconds in August–This package was published by the Star Tribune a year after the 2007 I-35W bridge collapse over the Mississippi River. Reporters identified the occupants of 78 of the 84 cars involved and told their stories.

Snowfall–When it was published in 2012, this story blew everyone away with its long-scroll, immersive reading experience. If you love this piece and want to recreate one of your own, you may want to read this interview or this blogpost about how the project was put together. Also, be sure to read about “Snowfall Fatigue” so you don’t repeat the project’s mistakes.

Reddit’s Ferguson live feed–A feed of photos, video, tweets and articles coming out of Ferguson, which made the events in Ferguson available to Reddit users all over the world.

Tarra and Bella: Elephant loses man’s best friend–The friendship between this elephant and dog has received lots of attention–from Oprah, the Huffington Post and, in this link, CBS. This story tells of Tarra’s efforts to deal with her best friend’s death.

HBO Real Sports investigation, “Head Games” | The link between concussions and ALSThis 2010 Emmy-award winning investigation inspired one MCOM 407 student so deeply that she wrote her senior high school thesis on it.

The work of Sal Masekela–Masekela is a journalist, commentator and producer known for hosting ESPN’s Summer and Winter X Games and NBC’s Red Bull Signature Series.

A Lost Boy Grows Up–This is the story of Jacob Deng Mach, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan who came to the United States and began dreaming of becoming a police officer. The story follows him through his police academy training.

America: Elect!–This is a “catch up” story of the 2012 presidential elections in the form of a graphic novel. Published by The Guardian, the feature is beautifully drawn and makes great use of parallax scrolling. Here’s how they put it together.

Teacher from Stratford shielded students–This heartbreaking story was especially poignant for one of our classmates who grew up in Connecticut, near the site if the Sandy Hook shooting and the Boston Marathon bombings.

Everyone Counts–For the student who nominated this story, it wasn’t just compelling because of the subject matter, but also because she was there when it was shot.

The Gulf War: Were there any heroes in the BP oil disaster? This is a great example of classic New Yorker long-form style.

Love, death and lacrosse–This Washingtonian story by Harry Jaffe makes compelling use of anecdotes and organization to tell the tragic story of George Huguely and Yeardley Love.

Postcard from Palestine–This 2010 article from The Nation describes daily life in Hebron.

Generation Nice–Millennials are actually less self-involved and more optimistic than many people think, according to this New York Times article.

Boatlift: An untold story of 9/11 resilience