Jeremiah Ariaz, professor of photography, took a sabbatical in 2022 to photograph newspaper offices across his home state of Kansas, “thinking of them as beacons of democracy in a divided America.”
“The photographs celebrate the civic function, labor and technology at the heart of local newspapers’ production, while also documenting an industry in peril as the country loses on average two newspapers a week,” he said. In the last two decades, over 2000 papers have closed nationwide.
Ariaz photographed 135 news offices in all. Recently, one office he visited multiple times, The Marion County Record, found itself embroiled in a controversy embodying the concerns behind his project – about community, division, democracy, and first amendment rights. These issues collided with real time events after law enforcement raided the newspaper office as well as the homes of its editor, owners, and reporters, seizing computer equipment, routers and cellphones, becoming an international news story.
“Reporting has been widespread from outlets such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and the Guardian,” he said. “I’m thrilled to have an opinion column published in The Washington Post.”
“See the Kansas weekly that’s standing up for press freedom” included 12 of Ariaz’s photographs from his visits to The Record.
Ariaz’s next publication, The Kansas Mirror: The Fourth Estate in the Heart of America is forthcoming. The 32-page tabloid in the style of a newspaper contains his photographs alongside essays from 10 contributors: Kansas newspaper men and women from across the state. It happens that the Maron County Record’s editor, Eric Meyer contributed a column to the publication. The paper will be released in September 2023, and was made with generous support of the Tallgrass Artist Residency, Volland Foundation, and the LSU Provost Arts/Humanities Fund.
The photographs will be on exhibition in October 2023 at The Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong.