Master’s Students Receive International Recognition for Excellence in Visual Journalism

By Ana Adi

Columbia, Mo. (April 4, 2006) — Work produced by students for the Columbia Missourian has received international recognition for excellence in visual journalism by the Society of News Design for the second consecutive year.

Robbie Ketcham
Robbie Ketcham
Reuben Stern
Reuben Stern

Two information graphics created by master’s students Robbie Ketcham and Reuben Stern won an Award of Excellence in the 2005 Best of Newspaper Design category at the organization’s 27th annual competition.

The winning visuals accompanied an article on illegal immigration, “Pursuing the American Dream.” One graphic shows the changes in illegal immigrant populations in each state over the past decade. The second shows the history of legal immigration into the United States since the early 1800s. The story was published in the Feb. 27, 2005, NewSunday edition of the Columbia Missourian, the city’s daily morning newspaper.

“Infographics are such an important part of storytelling. In this particular package, the graphics done by Robbie and Reuben told a piece of the story that text could not have told. That’s visual journalism at its best,” said Joy Mayer, the design editor for the Missourian who worked with the two winners.

Pursuing the American Dream
Pursuing the American Dream

The graphics supported a story about a family from China who illegally immigrated to mid-Missouri. Reporter Michelle Loyalka depicted the struggles and challenges the couple and their children encountered in the process of establishing a new life in America. Loyalka, also a master’s student, has received other awards for her writing, including a recent Overseas Press Club scholarship.

Pursuing the American Dream Page 12-A
Pursuing the American Dream Page 12-A

“Reuben and I worked together in brainstorming some graphics about the piece. Among other graphics, we decided to do a map showing the illegal immigrant population in the U.S., a timeline and chart showing the history of legal immigration and chart showing the steps needed to get legal authorization to immigrate,” Ketcham said. “These graphics gave me a chance to do something I enjoy — research and compile a lot of information and try and break it down into comprehensible content.”

Ketcham said that he relied on data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, as well as texts on obtaining a visa and historical immigration information from government documents in the library.

“I was fortunate to have my old high school U.S. history textbook at my apartment, which I used to layer historical information on top of the immigration data in hopes of putting immigration trends in a general historical context,” Ketcham added.

Pursuing the American Dream Page 13-A
Pursuing the American Dream Page 13-A

Stern commended the professional atmosphere at the Missouri School of Journalism that fosters such awards. “The award is a recognition that the work being done these days in the Missourian newsroom is not only real-life experience, but also is being done at a level of quality a lot of other professional newspapers would love to achieve,” Stern said. “These graphics represent just a small, typical slice of the high-level journalism that goes on in the Missourian newsroom every day.”

Mayer said that receiving such global recognition in the design community again is exciting for both the Missourian students and the staff. In the previous year’s SND contest, the entire staff of the Missourian received an Award of Excellence for the redesign of the Sunday newspaper.

“We don’t have small ambitions here at Mizzou. We play with the big dogs, essentially throwing our hat in the ring with every newspaper in the world,” she said.

Updated: April 9, 2020

Related Stories