116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
My phone chimed Tuesday night with a text message from my mom. "You were on Jay Leno Monday night!" My stomach sank, immediately wondering what photo of mine had ended up on Leno's Headlines segment, but pretty sure I knew exactly what I would see. (It's the first headline shown from that link.)
Ohhh, of course. I had been working on a story about the political climate at universities, specifically the University of Iowa. I had already photographed the College Republicans' Conservative Coming Out Week "animal rights" cookout for this story the week before I went to cover a protest related to accused hiring discrimination.
There was only one student at the protest, so I shot with the context of the university in mind -- to visually tie the protest with the Pentacrest. While the two photos were fine for daily coverage, the content of the signs didn't add anything to the photos. (And, you'll notice a misspelling on the second photo. "Outnumbed" in place of "outnumbered." We eliminated that photo from consideration for the story partially due to that misspelling.)
And then I saw the sign. Now, as a general rule, when covering protests we avoid photos that rely heavily on signs. But this was an exception: it expressed the sentiment of some of the subjects in the story, the posture was strong and the campus buildings in the background were easily recognized. Basically, it had impact, leading us to make the unconventional choice to use it to lead the story. It wasn't until some online comments pointed out the "aways" error that I even noticed. The mistake got past me (as you can tell from my caption), my photo editor and presumably at least one or two copy editors on its way to publication, so I at least take some solace in not being the only one to see "always" in "aways."
To give balance to the visual report for the story, I also photographed an Obama rally and followed some students as they went out canvassing. In the end, we had far too many photos to choose from for this Sunday centerpiece, but that's a good problem to have.