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Inside the Pages of News & Events Inside N&E

Introducing a new regular feature on The Tiger Beat Blog: Inside the Pages of News & Events

In coming weeks, News & Events Managing Editor Vienna Carvalho-McGrain will begin taking you behind the scenes of University News and offering an insider’s look at some of what goes on behind the walls of Building 86 (our campus home). For example, she’ll share insight behind News & Events story selection and front-page design decisions, “fly-on-the-wall” commentary of staff meetings, story previews and more.

As Vienna gears up for this endeavor and as a taste of what’s in store, here’s an insider’s account related to a photo selection in the May 18 issue of News & Events.

In mid-April, our photographer, Sue Weisler, captured a photo of NTID professor (and one of this year’s Eisenhart Award winners) Paula Grcevic with some of her students in a drawing studio. On that day, Professor Grcevic’s students were sketching nudes.

Around the same time, Sue mentioned to me the subject matter of the students’ sketches—some of which were visible in the backgrounds of many photos. As I recall, she seemed mildly concerned that the News & Events editorial staff—prudes that we are—might, to her dismay, crop the photos.

I had not yet seen the photos when, on May 5, I received a message from Karen Black, NTID director of media relations, questioning the photo choice that revealed a glimpse of a sketch of a, um . . . how shall I put it? . . . Bum. Back side. Fanny. Rear end.

Asked Karen: “Do you really think that’s appropriate? Is it me, am I too old and conservative, or should an award winning professor’s face not be next to a drawing of someone’s [caboose]?”

°°Uh oh,°° I thought. °°I better check out this photo.°°

Conceding that we’re generally not too cheeky when it comes to News & Events content, I surprised myself when, upon viewing the photo, I found it innocuous. And honest. And story-telling. And rather fun, actually.

But, out of respect for Karen’s concern, I suggested she seek the opinion of Professor Grcevic. “Since it’s a project she assigned, she may actually prefer the derriere shot,” I wrote. “It’s your call in the end.”

Karen agreed. A couple days later, she wrote:

“She prefers the derriere shot!”

So, that’s the poop behind how one person’s bottom photo choice (butt not another’s) almost got wiped from the pages of News & Events.

  1. Jared Lyon
    Jun 12

    I think, if anything, this new feature might reveal to students how much time is spent on something as innocent as a simple drawing of someone's butt. Will people start protesting nude figure drawing now? It *is* a required course after all.

    It's art people!

    Off I go on a mission to destroy David, the Venus de Milo, and the Vitruvian Man!

  2. Mike Saffran
    Jun 13

    Though you offer some well-meaning (and good-natured) sarcasm, Jared (at least that’s my take), I nonetheless believe it’s important that we not lose sight of an important fact: We DID run the photo—uncropped, fanny sketch and all.

    Does this mean there never should’ve been a discussion to begin with? Absolutely not! To the contrary, I’m grateful to Karen for expressing her concern about the photo—leading to dialogue and deliberate consideration (better for it to occur beforehand than afterwards—or not at all). Such a collegial process is more likely to result in a satisfactory outcome for all concerned—and, ultimately, to enhance our publication. (A few months ago, we pulled a photo based on a concern raised by our designer, Pete Bella. Although our photographer, Sue Weisler, disagreed with that decision, I believe it was the proper call and I’m grateful to Pete for expressing his opinion.)

    As far as how much time was spent deliberating whether or not to run the fanny photo (if I correctly understand that as your other point):

    Believe me, not much time was expended (we’re talking about a few e-mails back and forth). More importantly, though, so what if it was more? What’s the alternative? Giving little or no thought to content while churning out one of our most prominent publications?

    If you’ll forgive a baseball analogy, it’s kind of like asking Joe Torre why he spends so much time making out his lineup card. (I mean, what the heck, he could be out clubbing with Derek Jeter and A-Rod instead.) It’s a silly question because trying to win baseball games is his job. Producing News & Events is one of ours.

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