Jeremy Lurgio - Journalism

Jeremy LurgioMy creative work has entailed photojournalism for magazines, newspapers and online publications but my most significant and exciting work has been the multimedia storytelling project, Lost & Found Montana.

In 2000, the Montana Department of Transportation’s new highway map sealed the fate of 18 towns. Nine communities remained, nine disappeared. Their stories, past and present, offered an unusual perspective of the fragility of place in the changing rural West.

Lost & Found Montana documents 18 Montana towns on the edge of extinction. Their stories explore the issue of depopulation in the Great Plains, but they are not ghost tales. These are stories of towns clinging to existence like tumbleweed to a barbed wire fence. They’re not just farming towns, they’re railroad towns, mining towns, and mountain towns. Some have all but blown away in the western wind, while others balance at the vanishing point of the 21st century.

I traveled 7,500 miles across Montana reporting these stories. I interviewed over 100 people, shot 20 hours of video and took nearly 8,000 photographs. The project reached audiences through a robust interactive website, a traveling multimedia exhibit and magazine publication.

This project was the culmination of my creative work in the field of documentary photography and multimedia storytelling. Harnessing the power of still photographs, video, audio, text and graphics for these insightful stories challenged my thoughts about effective storytelling and technology. Used properly, each discipline effectively told part of the story; together they enhanced the depth of the project.

As a journalism professor, my mission is to continue to do work that is important to the field, to the public and to my students.  The multimedia work for this project has enhanced my teaching by keeping me at the forefront of digital journalism. It has resulted in a project of interest to historians, geographers, sociologists, journalists and everyday citizens. As the MDT found out, when you propose to erase a town, it’s about so much more than just words on a map.

Recently, I was honored when the project won a Best of 2013 award from the American Society of Media Photographers. The project’s interactive website won a second place in the Multimedia Interactive Presentation at the 2012 Atlanta Photojournalism Contest.

About Jeremy Lurgio

Associate Professor Jeremy Lurgio began teaching at the School of Journalism in 2007. He teaches classes in photojournalism and multimedia storytelling and freelance photography. But he is best known as a co-teacher of the school’s award-winning Native News Project. His creative and scholarly work focuses on multimedia storytelling. His work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, High Country News, National Geographic Adventure, Men’s Journal, Northwest Fly Fishing, and the Drake. He continues to be a regular contributor to the Big Sky Journal and Montana Magazine.