Perennial winners in this category, the L.A. Times staff turned its graphic-story-telling talents to accompany a five-part project that “showed how industrial society has not merely polluted oceans, but changed their basic chemistry, threatening sea life and human health.”
This series, which ran July 30 to Aug.3, grew out of the environmental reporting by Times staff writer Ken Weiss, who spent 18 months gathering information and conducting interviews about the rapidly declining health of the world’s oceans. Science writer Usha Lee McFarling joined Weiss and — assisted by various editors, photographers, Web producers and the information graphics staff — developed a multimedia experience.
Editor James E. O’Shea said the “visual style of these graphics was a purposeful departure from the normally subdued visual approach that is used for most graphics at the Los Angeles Times.”
Over the course of many months, about 10 graphics reporters, graphics editors, artists and online designers worked on this project, carefully avoiding scientific jargon while creating a clear complement to the related stories and photos.
Judges enthused: “WOW! The L.A. Times entry was head and shoulders above everyone else. It was successful on every level. The subject was global in reach. The elements (photography, graphics and text) were all respected and used with enough white space to make the large package immediately accessible. … The editors devoted plenty of space, the photography was lush, powerful and full of important visual cues.”
Reader response was overwhelming. Hundreds of educators contacted Weiss, requesting copies of the series for use in the classrooms.
In addition, the House Oceans Caucus distributed copies of “Altered Oceans” to every member of the House. Its cover letter said, “The conditions it describes are a threat to our national security, economy and environment, and we need to act … before the damage is irreversible.”