Janelle Nanos’s first meeting with Kate Price was a matter of chance. “A decade ago, I went to church on a Saturday morning to research a story,” Nanos wrote in her Boston Globe magazine piece. “What I found would change the course of my career.”
Price, an authority on child sexual abuse who worked at Wellesley College, was filling in as a speaker at an anti-human trafficking conference hosted by a group of nuns. She spoke about her own childhood in stunningly blunt terms. “Growing up I was prostituted by my father,” she said as jaws all around the room went slack. She explained that she was just a child when the abuse took place.
Though Price’s father was never charged or even investigated, she believed to her core that he sexually abused her and sold her for sex to truckers along the I-80 highway in Pennsylvania in the 1970s and ‘80s. To this day, the smell of Budweiser nauseates her because it reminds her of the odor of the men. But Price demonstrated extraordinary fortitude: She had not only escaped her hometown, she’d forged a life for herself in Massachusetts with a family and a burgeoning career in academia seeking justice for sexually exploited children.
But despite that, she had no proof beyond her own terrible memories.
That’s where Nanos came into the picture. Price asked her to help tell her story, and to search for proof that her childhood memories were real. With that, the pair set off on a decadelong odyssey that would take them to musty town archives, retired police officers, highway truck stops, and into the sitting rooms of friends and relatives Price hadn’t spoken to in decades. They spoke to judges, attorneys, FBI agents, and detectives who broke up mafia crime rings.
Piece by piece, year by year, they built a case as they burrowed into Price’s past and unlocked family secrets that would ultimately be life-changing for both Kate and her sister.
The story, a 2023 Pulitzer , was told in a sterling narrative woven by Nanos that deftly intertwined past and present, memory and reporting. A striking design, with clever adaptation of old photographs, helped visually communicate the struggles with resurfacing traumatic old memories. And given that Nanos had smartly captured audio from her years of reporting, we were able to make this as much a story told as read – key audio snippets of reporting dot the digital presentation and accentuate various characters and points. A documentary-style video allowed readers to see and hear from Price herself, as she grappled with the past and moved through her present. A partnership with audio-hosting service Audm allowed Nanos to tell the story to readers in her own voice – literally. And an event allowed Nanos to weigh in not only on the reporting of the story itself, but also the broader issue of child trafficking.
From the story to the art direction, it sticks with you. It’s haunting, beautiful, and compiles decades worth of reporting. The story’s use of photography truly advances the story. It wasn’t just window dressing. It was thoughtful and well designed.