Client: Center for Collaborative Investigative Journalism
The Institute for Nonprofit News pitched CCIJ on partnering with the one person, single issue nonprofit newsroom of SJVWater to add depth to the report and create necessary collaboration for their complicated story on the land subsidence (sinking) caused by agribusiness' groundwater pumping in the town of Corcoran, California.
The visual challenge in this story was that it largely relied on a lot of scientific data proving that the land was sinking however, there was no way to actually see the sinking or any damage caused by the sinking despite what the NASA satellites showed. Nor were there many people in town who would go on record much less agree to be photographed due to so much of the town relying economically on JG Boswell Company, the primary driver of the pumping.
In commissioning Ryan Christopher Jones for this project, I chose someone who relishes these kinds of challenges. Ryan's work shows a strong understanding of how to use light, space and moment to convey something meaningful beyond the literal. Instead of simply having him photograph specific locations, which of course was a part of the reporting strategy, we focused on going after themes to evoke a feeling and give focus to the aesthetic and reporting approaches here. We wanted to take readers to this place and explore the idea of the vulnerability the town faces as its economic fortunes are directly tied to the forces that are literally undermining the ground on which they live.
In addition to our team's collaboration, I worked closely with our Design Lead on constructing the visual stage on which this project was set. We collaborated on typographic treatment of the introductory animation and the graphic that all worked on the same idea of doing more than presenting just facts but did so in a more expressive way to show the vulnerability amidst the sinking landscape.
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