The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday September 27th

Column: The DTH is expanding its visual story telling

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From students couches to prison beds, Eyes Ears Nose and Paws puppies train to become service dogs. The dogs spend time with their "puppy parents", usually community members, until they are then trained by inmates in Warren Correctional Institution and Caswell Correctional Center in North Carolina.


The mission of EENP is to offer life-changing support to clients while also giving inmates a chance to learn skills they'll need once they are discharged. The dogs help to bring joy, purpose and a sense of home to inmates around the state.

There are times when words alone don’t suffice in evoking emotion from an audience. Visual storytelling, in all of its forms, is an effective medium for bringing characters to life and inspiring change. 

One of the first photo stories that I worked on was about an undocumented immigrant who sought refuge with her two sons in a sanctuary church in Greensboro. 

I strongly believe that no amount of words can convey the emotion that a single, well-made photograph can. Nice light can emanate a certain mood while a well-timed facial expression can help illustrate the character’s internal struggles or triumphs. 

Some of my most compelling images were made during the quieter moments: hugs, kisses or even glances out of a window. 

As a student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel has a mission to train its staffers in different forms of storytelling, whether it is through written word or visual media.

The photo desk receives daily assignments from other desks. Yet, pitching our own stories is rare.

Running photo stories online and in-print would give our desk more agency to pursue stories that have a more compelling visual element. And entitle our staffers to work on stories that mean something to them. 

My photojournalism professor, Patrick Davison, stresses how photo stories are the bread and butter of visual storytelling. They allow the photographer to spend more time on a specific story compared to daily assignments. 

As any journalist knows, the more time you spend working on a story, the stronger your relationships become with the subject. This directly translates to more access and trust.

Robert Capa, arguably one of the greatest wartime photojournalists of all time, once said that, “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you're not close enough.” This is referring to the importance of building a strong rapport with subjects. 

We decided as a desk that photo stories would serve as a necessary break from the day-to-day coverage of sporting events or university meetings. While some of our staffers’ pitches may never reach print, we hope to provide a creative outlet for them to chase their own stories

As The Daily Tar Heel undergoes a number of changes, including a redesign of the print product, the visual elements of the paper must stand strong.

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