The Digital Journalist
A Thank You to the Team

by William Snyder

Ever since I was asked to do this, I've been struggling with what to write. These pieces are generally written by photographers - by the people who make the images. I stopped shooting pictures seven years ago. Hell, I'm just the guy trying to convince everyone that I actually have a clue how to run a photo department! I'm the guy who's blamed if our coverage sucks. But I'm also the guy who gets to hand out all the kudos for a job well done. I attempted to write some sort of narrative that would capture the tension and explain how we did what we did in covering Hurricane Katrina, but it was too long, boring and I left people out.

So, I'm going to try to hand out all the kudos for a job well done and hope that it paints a bigger picture for all of you out there reading this.

I want to thank:

Assistant Director of Photography Leslie White, for rousing me from my weekend stupor while at the Women in Photojournalism Conference in order to send in the first troops and also for all the great slide shows she has produced during the two weeks since Katrina struck.

Photo Editor Guy Reynolds, for pushing for even more photographers when the situation heightened and for suggesting we leave one photographer in Lafayette, La., to beg, borrow or steal a helicopter as soon as the storm was over.

As the National Guard patrols, Louis Jones, 81, and Catherine McZeal, 62, help each other walk down flooded Poydras St. as they head to the Superdome on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005, days after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans. The couple got together to help each other through their crisis. “They wouldn't let our children help us,” Mrs. McZeal said, referring to the fact that people were not allowed to drive into the area to get relatives.

Michael Ainsworth, Staff Photographer
Photo Editor David Woo, for arranging for said helicopter to be flown in from Dallas when the folks in Lafayette decided our money wasn't good enough, for negotiating some extraordinary deals with Time magazine and Corbis and for getting us access when there wasn't any.

Photo Editor Michael Hamtil, for his great photo editing and incredible story sense. He helped us stay one step ahead of everyone else. And for also suggesting it was time to loosen my grip on the operation.

Photo Editor Anne Farrar, for her great photo editing, page design skills and strong news judgment under pressure.

Photo Editor Rick Choate, for keeping on top of the local scene as it grew and grew beyond what any of us imagined it would be.

Assistant Director of Photography Chris Wilkins, for his tireless good humor, for giving the photographers great telephones and for his attention to detail and scheduling when mine was completely shot.

Photo Editor Andy Scott, for his great technical expertise and logistical help in getting the photographers the right equipment that allowed them to take and send back the photos we needed and communicate with us.

Photo Editor, Alysia Oglesby, for her editing skills and for keeping the rest of the paper running smooth as silk - something that hasn't always happened before.

To all the photographers who went to Louisiana and Mississippi, for enduring crappy food, sleeping in hot and humid cars and tents, carrying smelly gallons of gas around and dodging deadly stagnant water and animals.

And in particular:

Hussein Mead, of New Orleans, washes his hands and face with soap and a little bottled water as National Guard members secure the plaza around the Superdome on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2005, days after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. The Superdome has become uninhabitable because of inoperative bathrooms and shortages of food and water. There were rumors that all the people from the Superdome were to be evacuated to the Astrodome in Houston.

Michael Ainsworth, Staff Photographer
Photographer Michael "Hurricane Boy" Ainsworth, for his strength, good humor, determination and incredible photographs under horrible conditions, including a nasty case of swamp foot.

Photographer Irwin Thompson, for his strength, good humor, dedication and incredible photographs under horrible conditions and for establishing the Nine-Mile Point Camp for Wayward Photographers.

Photographer Louis DeLuca, for continuing on through the storm at great personal risk and delivering some great photos on that first Mississippi morning.

Photographer Smiley Pool, for seeing all the great possibilities from the air and making art out of them while having a tough stomach and being light enough to allow for more flying time.

Photographer Melanie Burford, for grabbing the local refugee story by the throat and owning it.

Photographer Nathan Hunsinger, for getting out alive and finally calling.

Photographer Barbara Davidson, for finding the great "little" stories in Mississippi and then convincing me it was a better idea to have her in New Orleans doing the same thing.

Photographer Michael Mulvey, for accepting the challenge to own the Mississippi story for us and also finding great "little" stories that our readers respond to.

Lara Solt for moving so quickly on one of the local stories and then exploiting her relationship with the U.S. Army for another one.

Photographer Brad Loper, for jumping on that corporate jet at a moment's notice to give our readers an inside view of one of New Orleans' hospitals, while keeping his expense account to a very reasonable 84 cents.

Photographer Erich Schlegel, for his tireless work in Houston, cutting his vacation short, and hauling his boat into this story.

Photographer Cheryl Diaz Meyer, for sticking with it when the going got tough and still making good photographs.

Photographer Mona Reeder, for discovering the true heart of Desire Street for our readers and adopting one of the stray animals along the way.

Photographer David Leeson, for his gripping videos, especially the Dog Killing video that, so far, has stirred up quite a hornet's nest among the animal protection community.

Photographer Tom Fox, for the great oil-covered neighborhood story, although the jury is still out on whether his photo of "Oily" the dog was a good thing or bad thing!

The rest of the staff - Richard Pruitt, Natalie Caudill, Milton Hinnant, Jim Mahoney, Rick Gershon, Juan Garcia, Ron Baselice, Evans Caglage, Randy Eli Grothe, Vernon Bryant and John Rhodes - for being flexible and handling all the local angles of this story along with the other assignments.

To lab manager John Zak for keeping us fed during those early days and to your crack lab and imaging staff that got our images into the paper on time.

Everyone on Keith Campbell's News Art Department and the News and Copy Desk who worked with our photos and captions to give them the best display I've seen in my 22 years here.

Senior Deputy Managing Editor Walt Stallings, for his great advice under pressure and belief in us and his boss, Managing Editor George Rodrigue, and Editor Bob Mong, who believed in us, supported us and gave us the resources to do this fantastic job.

And last, but by no means least, the families of every single person listed - and not listed - who supported us when we needed it and allowed us to do our jobs the best way we could.

© William Snyder
Dallas Morning News

William Snyder is the Director of Photography at the Dallas Morning News and a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner. He has worked at the Morning News for 22 years, first as a photographer from 1983 - 1998. Snyder won a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism in 1989 along with reporter David Hanners and artist Karen Blessen for their special report on a 1985 airplane crash, the follow-up investigation, and the implications for air safety. In 1991, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for his pictures of ill and orphaned children living in desperate conditions in Romania. In 1993, Snyder and Ken Geiger won the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News photography for their photographic coverage of the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.
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