Freedom of the Press
In 2004, while studying at the School of Visual Arts in New York, myself and my fellow classmate, Brian Ponto, were looking to collaborate on a project together—we wanted to focus on an issue that Americans were interested in, but fuzzy on the details. With this in mind, we created a 32-page printed newspaper that presented the state of the media landscape using cited facts and direct quotes. Simple and direct, the emphasis on fact over analysis and succinct over longform was designed for a reader to walk away with a basic understanding of the issue, and provide resources for further research if they were interested.
We believed (and continue to believe) the public needs a jump start, a cliff notes of sorts, and that an informed public would be more likely to take action on issues if they only knew some basic information about them. Created back in 2004, this pre-dated the news-as-explainer model of journalism that is so prevalent today.
As students, we were delighted to get such encouraging feedback about the project:
“I admire your organization’s ambition and endeavors to bring about change in voter turnout in America. The facts and message you present in your publication clearly call for an increased voter turnout in the upcoming election. Your publication is illustrated in a visually evocative manner that will effectively reach out to the average voter today.”
-Cecile Richards, Founder and President, America Votes (she is now president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America)
“Thanks very much for sending ‘Freedom of the Press’. It’s an amazing document that should have a circulation of 300 million!”
-Ian MacKaye, Founder, Dischord Records
Just Design: Socially Conscious Design for Critical Causes, How Books, 2011
cause/affect, 2nd place, political design, AIGA San Francisco, 2007
Regional Design Annual, Print magazine, 2006
TDC 51 annual and exhibition, Type Director’s Club, 2005
Design Annual 43, Communication Arts, 2004
Freedom of the Press: Voting Rights
Later in 2004, we applied the same approach of the earlier Freedom of the Press project to a pamphlet addressing voting rights, in an effort to encourage voter turnout for the 2004 elections. Our main takeaway was the demographic blocks who had to fight for the right to vote the most voted least.
The pamphlet folds out into a poster made of dots. Each dot represented 537 votes—the number of votes that decided the 2000 presidential election in the infamous Florida recount—out of nearly 6 million votes cast. There were roughly 11,170 dots on the total poster, and one tiny dot (pointed out by the “i” in “This”) represented the deciding voting block.
The pamphlets were distributed by various voter registration organizations across the country.