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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Award-winning photojournalist addresses the importance of “Visual Storytelling”

<rd-winning photojournalist Josh Meltzer ’95 presented “Visual Storytelling” on Friday, Feb. 15 at 10:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel at Carleton College for this past week’s Convocation.

A 1995 graduate of Carleton with a degree in American studies, Meltzer is a staff photographer for the Roanoke Times, shooting for the news, features, and sports sections of the Roanoke, Virginia newspaper and also working on multimedia projects for the paper’s website (

Meltzer was named National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) Photojournalist of the Year in 2006, for a portfolio of work created for a newspaper with a circulation of less than 115,000. His photographs are intimate, compassionate portraits that tell the stories of the people they feature. Covering a wide array of subjects, his work captures raw emotion and real human expression, helping viewers to understand complicated issues. Whether his camera captures the image of a child, a victorious sports team, or a group of firefighters, Meltzer strives to tell a story and engage the community. He hopes his photographs enable people to view complex community issues through a different lens.

A passionate advocate for the potential for great community journalism, Meltzer credits his liberal arts education at Carleton with giving him an edge. “You learn how to learn, to study, to research, to write. And you get a good background in religion, politics, culture. You need to learn about the people you’re photographing and figure out how to tell a story with a camera. The camera is just a tool …Sometimes you shoot and there’s great emotion or story-telling value; sometimes it’s simply about composition and aesthetics. The next level is where you can combine those, and that’s what makes the best pictures.”

“There are so many good stories in any local community,” says Meltzer. “Look at the national debate on immigration—there are people from Mexico living here [in Roanoke] with similar stories as everywhere else.Community journalism can be done really well. We have a fantastic photo staff, and we focus on covering our community. I think it pays off.” For the past two years, he has worked on two major immigration projects that focus on the Somali-Bantu community and Hispanic immigration in Roanoke.

A native of Decatur, Ga., Meltzer worked as an intern at the Duluth News-Tribune for a year before he landed a position as staff photographer for the publication in 1995. After four years in Duluth, he has held his current position with the Roanoke Times since 1999.

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