Packaged Story

 A community transformed by refugees now embraces Trump

This feature was about a community in Maine that was revitalized by immigrants. However, the town supports Trump and his anti-immigration policies. The article attempt to understand how these sentiments emerged.

Within the article, I used a mixture of pull quote, subheads and photos to break up the text. I decided to use all three because I didn’t want readers to get overwhelmed by the blocks of text. To be honest, I probably put too much, but I had so many beautiful photos to choose from.

I had difficulty deciding how to start packaging the piece and eventually settled on finding the natural breaking points for subheads first. I found two, which I titled “A tough spot” to describe Tabitha Beauchesne’s perspective and “Tension between past and present” to describe the theme of David Lovewell’s story.

Next, I tackled the photos: I had about 20 to choose from for this article. I ended up using nine photos with five at the top as a slideshow and four embedded within the article. To do this, I had to look at all the photos and then see which ones had the characters in the story. I also wanted to include pretty photos as well as photos that encapsulated the article’s theme.

I chose the main feature photo of a Muslim woman, presumably an immigrant, walking by an American flag. The photo was gorgeous and also embodied the conflict: American First vs. Melting pot.

Right after this photo, I chose one with a young teenager, an opening character of the story, with a “Make America Great Again” sign and another of refugee carrying her goods on her back in the snow, which to me symbolized the struggles the refugees overcame to get to the U.S. and still endure once they arrive. I felt these two photos highlighted the tension within the article. I then included two photos that possessed two sources from the article. I ended the gallery with a beautiful photo that contrasted shadows and light with pretty colors of a Somali store.

Next, I decided to embed photos. After careful thought, I decided I should put a prom photo near the top to set the scene of the lede. I absolutely loved the lighting surrounding the couple walking down a runway, so I chose that one. Next, I knew that since there were so many photos of the downtown area and because the refugees revitalized the businesses, I needed to include a photo near the paragraphs that described this. At first, I chose the photo of the woman carrying her things on her back. But I eventually realized later that most of the photos I used only have the backs of women. So at the last minute I changed the second embedded photo to a man walking in the sunlight with colorful blouses hanging in a store.

I also felt it was important to include a photo of whites and minorities interacting together. The best photo for this was one of a group of boys eating lunch at the local high school — unfortunately there weren’t that many photos to choose from. Lastly, I ended with a photo of the paper mill with a beautiful blue sky for several reasons. First, it showed how the town used to be. Second, it showed how Trump’s base supporters are struggling economically. Third, it had the arm of the last character within the story.

Choosing pull quotes at this point was hard. I probably should have only done one, but I wanted to give the reader a break between blocks of text. Many of the quotes were very close to either the subheads or photos, and I didn’t want that. Other quotes weren’t that interesting or revealing — or they needed more context. I eventually decided to do one quote near the top: the first quote that explained the town’s anti-immigration leanings. The second quote was another voice later in the story that explained this perspective. I wanted to highlight a quote from the refugee point of view, but unfortunately there weren’t that many to choose from. There was only one voice in the whole piece from an immigrant, a weakness of the reporting I felt, and she was near a photo.

Overall, copyediting the article was easy. I slightly changed the headline and wrote a deck.

In the process of completing this project, I learned that I have a tendency to over package a story. But I really enjoyed putting the feature together, finding themes and seeing how they’re reflected in the photos and quotes.


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