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Writing

insight

not black or white
not quite

we are blind in black’s darkness and blinded by the brightest white
we laugh with pain and we cry with delight

so what is black?
what is white?

no color
all colors

we need color

the full spectrum
infrared through ultraviolet

what a sight…
the prism from dark to light
from night to day and day to night

illuminating
inspiring
igniting

our dreams
our realities

enriching glorious individualities

humanity…

 

(from the vault circa 2003-04… © Carrie Osgood)

Legendary composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s core principles to lyric writing can be applied to crafting all forms of effective storytelling. I hold his principles dear in all of my work, from the visual, written, statistical and experiential.

From his book Finishing the Hat:

“In no particular order, and to be written in stone:

Content Dictates Form

Less is More

God is in the Details

all in the service of

Clarity

without which nothing else matters.”

Integrated visual storytelling triggers a combined emotional and intellectual response that educates and engages the viewer. Introductory text focuses the message which is enhanced through analytical comparisons, big-picture understanding and an emotional connection to the individual experience.

Below are key elements of an interactive I created for the Associated Press on the many natural disasters in 2010. For this project, I combed through the AP’s extensive photo archive to carefully pick images that captured the events and visually worked together to broaden the story. I also researched, analyzed and charted the data, wrote the text, designed all elements and coded the interactive. It was published Dec. 20, 2010.

INTRODUCTION – conceptual connections

Photo collage of the disasters in Hungary, Chile, China and Haiti

Natural disasters killed more than a quarter million people in 2010, the deadliest year in more than a generation. Experts say that even though many disasters have the ring of random chance, man had an awful lot to do with it being such a tumultuous year, from global warming to poor construction and development practices. This sample of disasters, which includes man-made technological catastrophes, shows how bad human decision making can wreak havoc on the planet and destroy lives.

GRAPHICS – intellectual understanding

(static screenshots – launch flash interactive for complete data comparison and sources)

PHOTOGRAPHY – emotional engagement

(disasters listed alphabetically – all photos from apimages.comlaunch flash interactive for credits)

      SCOPE OF DISASTER          |          PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

Chile 8.8 earthquake:
China 6.9 earthquake:
Gulf of Mexico oil spill:
Haiti 7.0 earthquake:
Hungary toxic sludge spill:
Iceland volcano:
Indonesia 7.7 earthquake, tsunami, volcano:
New Zealand 7.0 earthquake:
Pakistan floods:
Russia heat wave, fires:
Tennessee floods:

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what I wrote in the fall of 2001 as my personal response to 9/11 and its aftermath, below a sketch I did from my NYC rooftop in 2000:

nine one one

nine
one one
two thousand
and one

eight thirty
checked the mail
only fifteen minutes
to hell

it was a beautiful day
such a clear blue
such a blue day….

I watched it all on TV
terrified they would come after me

my view forever changed
life will never be the same

––––

glued to the phones
infused the news
if I walked outside I would
see it’s true

the sullen streets
my neighbor’s faces
the gloom cascade along
familiar places

this global tragedy
in my own community

––––

walking home downtown to my empty house
along the empty streets towards the billowing cloud
my eyes could not deceive I tried to comprehend
this surreal scene, this abhorrent scent

passing the great skyrises on the day the sky fell
staring at the great hole and the smoke of hell
patrolmen line my street, guards in camouflage with guns
yuppies wearing gas masks, rubble trucks galore…

nauseating shiver sweating nightmares of dread
absolutely petrified of what may lie ahead

––––

hours days pass by
candles flowers crowds unite

mourning with the masses
as the media re-hashes

meaningful mementos become trivial sights
broadcasting my neighbors’ grieving rights

sterilize the pain
just make everyone the same

––––

we’re now faceless faces
lost in the crowd
the echoes scream so loud

so much cliché
(everyday, everyday, everyway)
is freedom running away?!!
(disarray, no stop please stay… play)

our view forever changed
life will never ever be the same

from me – to us – to them

me – us – them

it was me – now us – and them

me – us – them

from me to us to them
choose sides the lies
jump into boxes full
of patriotic pride

polarize the poltergeist
the loyal paranoia
the fuel that feeds the fire
as politician crooks conspire

divisionary flags
waving rags
united we stand
sinking with the sand

attack on freedom?
or more like ignorant greed
such senseless bloodshed
those bastards planted the seed

––––

sensational
biochemically conventional
repeat every word – dull it like the knife
trivialize the thousands of lost life

corruption
motivating mass destruction
celebrate bafoons – shun all common sense
how dare you gamble with our future tense!!!

––––

nine one one
six billion and one

emergency…