The Lost Local News Issue
In 2021, Washington Post Magazine published The Lost Local News Issue — the largest in the history of the Magazine — showing the impact of losing local journalism. You can check out the landing page at wapo.st/lost-news.
About 2,200 local print newspapers have closed since 2005. In many places where papers still exist, a lack of resources prevents them from reporting thoroughly on issues vital to the community. Other stories are lost, too: the local controversies, wrongdoings and human-interest tales that are severely underreported or entirely untold. For this issue, we asked local journalists to tell some of those stories. Topics range from the mystery of a possible grizzly bear serial killer in Idaho, to an Alaskan community in danger of losing their only school because of erosion, to a West Virginia pastor who has defied the odds to create a diverse congregation, to two men in Oregon who are giving unclaimed human remains a proper burial.
My role in this project involved art direction, print design, digital design, and project planning.
Credits: Art direction and design by Clare Ramirez. Digital and development by Garland Potts. Additional art direction by Suzette Moyer. Additional design by Christian Font and Audrey Valbuena. Photo editing by Dudley M. Brooks. Map and graphics by Joe Fox.
A very key part of this project involved location. Every single writer, photographer, and artist who contributed to the issue lived in or near a news desert, defined as “a community, either rural or urban, with limited access to the sort of credible and comprehensive news and information that feeds democracy at the grass-roots level.” After a weeks-long search, I recruited and collaborated with four artists who pitched standalone stories from their region and convey them through art.
The artists were Daniel Hertzberg in New Jersey, Katie Eberts in Michigan, Kendra Binney in Washington, and Mae Waite in Hawaii.
Visuals Planning and Print Production
I worked with story editors and our photo editor to plan visual approaches for print and online. In a span of four to five weeks, I designed most of the stories in issue, including a special expanded cover. I was also in charge of booking the magazine, coming up with stylized treatments for the opener designs, and delegating tasks to my fellow designers.
Examples of well feature openers, front-of-book openers, standalone illustrations, and photo spreads.
Digital Design and Styling
I worked with a developer on our team to come up with a digital landing page to showcase all the pieces from the issue. We worked no incorporating visuals from the 12 pieces coming from news deserts, as well as the introductory column from media columnist Margaret Sullivan. I came up with the CSS styling to make sure all pieces are consistent, and came up with a solution to relink the stories to each other. In the end, I designed 10 of the 13 pieces we published.