About Deconstructing the Divide
Deconstructing the Divide: Revealing Syracuse’s Inequality
Dozens of Syracuse University students spent the school year reporting on inequality, producing more than 30 stories on race, gender, disability, the ways in which our society divides us, and the people fighting to construct a better tomorrow.
hy does inequality persist today and what can we do about it?
That is the question that motivated more than 100 student reporters, photographers, designers, editors, and producers to collaborate on dozens of stories, videos, illustrations, and data visualizations to examine what divides us, and what brings us together. The result: Deconstructing the Divide, produced by students who worked virtually and in person, abiding by all COVID-19 regulations.
A neighborhood-level analysis of economic opportunity reveals vast inequality within the city limits. We report on the impact that high lead levels have on Syracuse’s children. One story explores the complex relationship between the city and the university that shares its name.
Several personal narratives provide an intimate look at the discrimination against Indigenous students, ableism faced by people with disabilities, and racism thrown at Black students taking classes at a predominately white institution.
There are more than 20 additional articles as well. One deals with the legacy of the Syracuse 8, who protested racial inequality in sports in the late 1960s. Another explains the food apartheid that exists in Syracuse. Others highlight the people working to make change, including protesters and community leaders.
But answering the question at hand turned out to be difficult. In part because of the invisible nature of the forces behind inequality. We know, for example, that the glass ceiling faced by women in America has not thinned despite higher academic achievement and women breaking ground in new industries. The effect COVID-19 has had on inequality is also still evolving. Education, often thought to help promote equality, has been unequally afforded to children in Syracuse. Cases of COVID-19 have disproportionately affected people of color in Syracuse, but communities of color have not received priority for vaccinations in Onondaga County.
So this project raises as many questions as it answers. But as a nuanced investigation into the forces that generate inequality within our university and our city, Deconstructing the Divide works to shine a light on the scourge of inequality and elevate the voices of people fighting against it.
The project represents hundreds of hours of work from student reporters, photographers, designers, and coordinators in the most difficult of circumstances. The pandemic forced several photoshoots and interviews to Zoom as the journalists and their sources confronted health scares, quarantines, and a rapidly evolving landscape of threats. Throughout the project, abiding by SU’s Stay Safe Pledge while reporting in the field was at the top of our minds, along with doing justice to these important stories.
The final presentation was a team effort, supported by nearly all of the faculty members in the Magazine, News, and Digital Journalism; Broadcast and Digital Journalism; and Visual Communications departments. Thank you to the countless faculty members who gave advice, helped recruit students, and connected reporters with sources.
Special thank you to Newhouse alumnus David Flaum and his wife, Jackie, who have been generous supporters of reporting experiences for Newhouse journalism students, including Deconstructing the Divide.
Student Project Coordinators
Content Director – Patrick Linehan
Design Director – Kevin Camelo
Social Media Director – Frankie Sailer
Visuals Director – Laura Oliverio
Project Coordinator – Jon Glass
Content Coordinators – Shelvia Dancy, Ashley Kang, and Greg Munno
Site Developer & Design Coordinator – Seth Gitner
Editing Coordinator – Rawiya Kameir
Visuals Coordinator – Amy Toensing
Visualizing I-81 Coordinators – Dan Pacheco and Amber Bartosh
Reporters & Producers
Kaizhao Zero Lin
Adriana Rozas Rivera
Visual Journalists & Illustrators
Zachary J. Krahmer
Bond Demetri Photos
Amanda M. Smith
JD Strong II
Social Media Coordinators
Shivani Reddy Manjunath