2017 Online Commentary finalist

Vox First Person

Eleanor Barkhorn and Karen Turner

Vox Media

Online Commentary


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About the Project

The mission of Vox’s First Person section is simple: to show the human side of the news.

Here are three pieces from the past year that we are most proud of. They display the hallmarks of the section: honest, surprising storytelling; creative sourcing; and thoughtful design and layout. Each offers a reminder that there is always a human story behind the biggest headlines.

Life after the Olympics
– Notable for the vulnerability shown by the high-profile essayists, and for the intimacy of the photography.

Published two weeks before the Opening Ceremonies of the Rio Olympics, this collection of essays by current and former Olympians explored what happens after the games end. What’s it like to go back to “real life” after being in the spotlight?

All the Olympians who were part of this package — including legends John Carlos and Greg Louganis — struggled when they came home. We’re used to seeing athletes in moments of triumph, but these essays reveal that their lives include seasons of darkness.

The photography highlights that intimacy: our photographer captured the athletes at home, relaxed. Louganis does a handstand by a pool. Softball gold medalist Jennie Finch tosses the ball in her backyard. Track silver medalist Jim Ryun, now in his late 60s, lovingly holds a photo of himself as a 20-something.

For so many Americans, Obamacare offered career freedom. A repeal could take that away.
– Notable for using Vox’s Facebook group for Obamacare enrollees as a source, and for its creative photography and design.

One of Donald Trump’s most consistent campaign promises was to repeal Obamacare. After he took office, the millions of Americans who rely on the exchanges asked themselves — how will my life change if Obamacare goes away?

Vox created a Facebook group of Obamacare enrollees to explore this question, and one of the most common concerns came from self-employed people. We spoke to about a dozen who’d been able to take career risks because of Obamacare — and how they were changing their lives now that the law’s future was in jeopardy.

We used bold, closeup photography and a stark layout to highlight the high stakes of this possible policy change. And we started each participant’s story with their signature, a reminder that the healthcare debate being waged in Washington affects everyday people.

Confessions of a wealthy immigrant: ‘model minority’ is a myth
– Notable for using illustrations to tell a story in a nontraditional way

The issue that has characterized Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency so far is immigration — who “deserves” to come to America?

This story started as a Medium post — the author’s frank discussion of uncomfortable aspects of the immigration debate impressed us. We thought that the “told three ways” structure demanded a creative presentation, so we looped in an on-staff illustrator, Amanda Northrop, to explore how to tell the story visually.

The resulting essay makes a challenging point about the way we talk about immigration.