Against the Odds

Consider this the first of a series of goodbye posts that cry, cheer, sigh, scream, laugh and/or vomit that my time as a department editor for Vox has come to an end.

This week we published the pièce de résistance of many of our writers’ experiences at the magazine. It’s called “Against the Odds,” and it tells the story of 13 people (and one dog) who made the improbable possible.

Photos by Naveen Mahadevan
Visit the site for more information and gorgeous photography. (Photos by Naveen Mahadevan)

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the world of journalism, it’s to show rather than tell. The project told these stories, but the stories behind the project? That’s where I really saw people go up “against the odds.”

Let me break it down for you:

Not like that.
Not like that.
That's more like it.
That’s more like it.

“Against the Odds” was unlike any feature our team tackled this semester. Our 12 staff reporters found and wrote the stories, led by faculty member Sara Shipley-Hiles. Two department editors, Laura Heck and Justin Whaley, were in charge of the print edition and text editing. Add me and Chantel O’Neal to the list as web editors on the project and two students, Andrea Hall and Roman Kolgushev, who designed the site, to the mix. Oh, and the four multimedia editors: Anne Allen, Charles Minshew, Liz Pierson, Sini Stephan. And don’t (ever) forget Naveen Mahadevan, our star photographer who developed the black and white portraits in a darkroom before transferring them to a digital format.*

*I included all the names in here so when they’re all successful and I need a job, I have proof that we once worked together. Who said this blog was altruistic?

Against all odds (that was on purpose), that group of people put together a project with organization and dedication. If the standing ovation in the newsroom at budget or the congratulatory email sent to reporter Emily Adams from her advisor didn’t do it, the pride felt by everyone who put together the package should show rather than tell you that we did something great here.

And everyone is to thank for it: the reporters’ enterprising work, Sara’s skintight deadlines, Laura and Justin’s painstaking editing, the web team’s coding-induced headaches. Even though I had a small part in the project — adding text and captions to the site through html coding and proofing the iPad edition — I still feel on top of the world when I see the final product.

But what helped us achieve the improbably wasn’t just the hours and devotion put into the project. We functioned like a well-oiled machine, like a professional magazine, and came out closer and for the better because of it…

…with one beautiful, heart-wrenching, inspiring issue of Vox as proof.


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