In April, I shared the news here on ASJA Confidential that the ASJA Board had approved the look and feel of our new homepage. By the time of the annual meeting in late May, we had also gotten approval for the homepage’s copy and graphic elements, including photos.
Note: See the new homepage design here and follow along as you read the news below.
All Eyes on the Banner
A key feature of the new homepage is its eight-photo banner across the top of the page. We developed the banner to work in concert with the headline, “We’re the largest organization of professional independent writers, telling the world’s stories for publishers and brands since 1948.”
Using that theme of “the world’s stories,” how could we convey what journalists, authors and content marketing writers do on the job? We decided to start with our members, of course. We began running calls for photos in the ASJA Weekly and contacting members directly if we’d heard they might have some good shots.
Photos began trickling in, including those of members reporting in the field, speaking before an audience, or presiding over a book signing. It was great fun to see members at work in so many different ways.
Here’s a peek into the backstories of some of the outstanding member photos that will grace our website when we launch this fall.
In 2019, Mia Taylor spent a week on the front lines of wildlife conservation in Kenya learning about the rarely seen world of wildlife conservation rangers. “Our fascinating weeklong journey included foot patrols with rangers, nights sitting around a campfire with Maasai elders, and days exploring unique preserves created on Maasai conservation land,” she wrote in TravelPulse. “And while endangered animals were the underlying theme of the trip, in the end, it was a journey that told an unforgettable human story about the people selflessly dedicating their lives to an effort, and a cause, that benefits all of humanity.”
Of the many people Taylor met on the trip, memories of a young ranger stand out. The TravelPulse article includes a shot Taylor took of him deep in conversation, gesturing animatedly, sitting slightly elevated above the expansive savannah behind him. Here’s how Taylor recorded their conversation in her article: ‘“This job…you do it in your heart,” says 28-year-old Big Life Foundation ranger Daniel Kutata. “You do it not because you want to make money but because of the animals. It is my calling. The animals are like my brothers or sisters. They are part of me. When they hurt, I feel it is my flesh is getting hurt.”’
Fortunately for us, a fellow traveler captured Taylor and Kutata perched on an outcropping, sharing a smile and enjoying each other’s company.
Janine Latus sent us a photo of herself in an ultralight aircraft that came out of a profile of an aerial photographer she wrote for Distinction magazine, a high-end lifestyle magazine based in Hampton Roads, Virginia.
In it, she’s flying over the Eastern Shore of Virginia, an enormous grin plastered on her face. “The photographer said, want to go up? I said, sure!” she explains.
“I’m afraid of heights, yet here I am, flying alongside Canada geese,” she told me. “No walls, no floor, just straddling a 20-gal jug of fuel, my feet hanging out in mid-air.”
For Latus, this photo encapsulates what her work has meant to her. “This career has allowed me to have adventures most people would never even consider,” she says. “I’m curious by nature and eager to go and do and try new things, so this story was a thrill.”
Melanie Padgett Powers
Of course, some of our best work can happen with nary a whiff of adventure. In 2017, one of Melanie Padgett Powers’ regular clients asked her to attend their annual meeting and cover various conference sessions both for their on-site daily newspaper and their quarterly membership magazine.
One of those assignments was to report on a healthcare session featuring former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. “My client asked that I try to catch Daschle after the presentation for a few quick one-on-one questions, which I did,” she says. “The conference photographer snapped this photo as I was interviewing Daschle in the convention center hallway.”
For Powers, this photo felt like something of a throwback. “I love that the photographer captured me in the middle of my in-person reporting, something I haven’t done that much of these past 20 years as most interviews are done with people by phone (or now, more often by Zoom),” she says. “I started my career as a newspaper reporter in my home state of Indiana, and I imagine this is what I looked like for years as I interviewed people. It was nice to feel like an on-the-spot hard news reporter again!”
Rounding out the Banner
While we all know that ASJA members are fantastic talkers, many are also skilled speakers. Tara Haelle graciously let us extract a still image from the YouTube video of her 2016 TEDx talk in Oslo, Norway, about vaccine hesitancy.
We rounded out the banner by choosing four stock images that pay homage to some of the other myriad ways in which we’ve built our careers. For example, we chose a young woman using a microscope to convey that many of us write about science, health, and medicine.
The shot of a windfarm is a nod to those of us who focus on environmental, tech, and energy writing. And the famous Wall Street bull statue represents members who write about business and finance.
To emphasize how ASJA remains relevant even though the organization has been around since 1948, the shot of a young woman of color at a protest captures today’s two most pressing issues—the COVID-19 pandemic and the quest for social justice—in one compelling image.
Overall, the website project has entered the home stretch, with our partners focusing on simultaneously building the association management software portal and the WordPress site, as well as the site migration, page design, web writing, and more.
We’ll have another update next month. In the meantime, thank you to Mia, Janine, Melanie, and Tara for sharing their images, and thank you for reading.