I’m an experienced, award-winning news artist and journalist whose work is fueled by trying to find the answer to a simple question: How do I best tell this story?
Sometimes the answer means sending FOIA requests, interviewing sources and writing stories like any other reporter. It means working with tools like Photoshop and Illustrator to create static graphics, maps and illustrations for print and online. Or designing packages and pages for print.
Other times it means analyzing data with Excel or using program languages like Python or R, then creating interactive maps and graphics or even whole web apps or sites.
I’ve been fortunate to benefit from the abundance of low cost or free classes on the web and the generosity of professional colleagues who share their knowledge. And so I pay that forward by helping others learn these tools, like with this tutorial for reporters on using R to create publication-ready charts and maps. If you're interested in data journalism. here's a list of tools to start with.
You can see my latest resume here.
Below are links to samples of some of my work. All links open in new windows. There's also more at the Daily Herald News Art site.
- Annual Illinois School Report Cards : After the Great Recession, I found myself in the position of being the person at the Daily Herald with the most knowledge of the annual data release from the state. I decided to use the data to challenge myself and embarked on a years-long effort to learn and develop the skills necessary to comprehensively present the data.
I’ve assisted reporters from the Peoria Journal-Star and the Chicago Sun-Times in their coverage, and made appearances on ABC 7 and Chicago Tonight to discuss this work.
- Poverty-Acheivement Index: I wanted to give our readers a deeper understanding of the numbers they were seeing in the annual school report card. The result was our Lisagor award-winning look at the effect of poverty on school performance. This important series came out during a critical time in the debate about school funding in Illinois.
- The 2016 primary and election: For the first time in years Illinois had contested presidential primaries for both parties (often the contests had been decided before they got to Illinois). I took advantage of that to examine precinct-by-precinct how the suburbs have changed in their voting preferences. Little did I know how controversial the election would be.
I started with the primary, looking at the Democratic and Republican votes, then compared the turnouts between the two party primaries to get an idea of interest.
After the general election, I compared how Clinton and Trump did while also seeing how each precinct voted in the primary. The result was interesting, with quite a bit of crossover voting from one party to another - sometimes in unexpected areas.
To do this, I’ve created a workflow that includes the email service mailchimp.com, formsite.com for securely gathering the information and python scripts and a Django app to process hundreds of candidate questionnaires and their photos for print and online. The app also serves as an internal database for the more confidential information useful to reporters and editors.
- Candidate questionnaires:
One of my ongoing challenges is behind the scenes with no external link to it. I manage the process of contacting and questioning hundreds of politicians for primary and general elections, keeping track of the more than 1,500 races in the Daily Herald circulation area.
Taking advantage of open source and low-cost tools to do this has saved the Daily Herald more than $10,000 and hundreds of hours.
- Gliniewicz: I created an interactive map that took users along the final path of Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, who faked his suicide to conceal illegal activity in Fox Lake.
- Decline of prep football: The Daily Herald teamed up with the Chicago Sun-Times to examine participation in high school football. But rather than simply charting the raw numbers, I put them in context with changes in school enrollment and key events in the concussion saga. I also created an online presentation for all the numbers here.
- Population decline in the suburbs: While Illinois was losing population, the prevailing thought was that people were mainly leaving downstate counties. I checked that out in the summer of 2017 and found widespread decline in the city and suburbs from 2014 to 2016.
- Cook County soda tax: Fun treatment for reporter Jake Griffin's story on all the taxes hanging on a 32-ounce drink.
- Peak tornado months: A look at tornados in the suburbs.
- The gender gap in high school scores: My examination of male and female students' high school test scores won the Lisagor in 2012.
- Path to Foreclosure: A major part of the Daily Herald's Lisagor award-winning coverage of the 2007 mortgage crisis, a DuPage bankruptcy judge sought copies of this graphic to help explain the process to people coming into his courtroom.
- Big search for something very small: This explaination of how the particle accelerator at FermiLab was being used to search for the graviton garnered some very positive reader feedback. And I got to vist FermiLab!
- Casino Addiction: How to show a very large number of things compared to a very small number of things.
- Bionic arm: This small explainer was produced in about a day to make an embargo deadline.
- Chicago Fire stadium: We translated this graphic into Spanish for our sister publication Reflejos.
Design and illustration
- Premium section: I'm often turned to for special projects, such as the premium edition calendar.
- Perilous passages: In addition to the online presentation, I'll often create the print package as well.
- Special events: For the 100-year anniversary, I toured the Cantigny Museum and created this special page.
- Redesigns: Among the publications I've redesigned are the Daily Herald's Business Ledger, the Woodstock Independent and numerous other Daily Herald publications in southern and central Illinois.
- Cubs: Illustration for the National League Championship Series.
- Bulls v. Heat: Kick off for a playoff series.
- Champions: The front page for the 2010 Stanley Cup victory.
- Ready: A Bears/Green Bay showdown.
- Driving on Your Dime: Main illustration that became the logo for a series on taxpayer funded cars.
- Wanted: A bit of fun with a story about the ash borer pest.
I also do this stuff for fun: