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Winter 2011, Vol. 14, No. 2
Class Notes - Sidebars

Progressing with the Times

Working his way from Missouri to California, Les Dunseith (’80) has enjoyed a rich career in the journalism industry. Dunseith is the current graphics editor for The Los Angeles Times, having previously served as a news and copy editor, assistant copy chief and copy chief during his 20-plus years at the newspaper.

Dunseith’s shift from writing to layout resulted from his newspaper’s increasing need for design talent. “I found that my skills were in demand, so I was able to kind of naturally progress that way,” Dunseith said.

In 2010, Dunseith’s graphics team won a Sigma Delta Chi award for their Obama inauguration layout in an annual competition sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists.  The intricate layout was constructed using 3-D software and hand-drawn illustrations, involving collaboration from designers across the country.

Dunseith considers this project a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity due to its historical significance. He credits the layout’s success to the opportunity to plan well in advance. “This is a case where we came up with a nice idea, and as it evolved it just kept getting better,” he said.

Under his direction, the Times’ graphic department has received more than 20 awards of excellence since 2005.  He has also participated in much Pulitzer prize-winning coverage and earned recognition from various regional, statewide and national journalism and public service award programs.

Dunseith feels extremely fortunate to work for a respected newspaper like the Times. “Even though newspapers have struggled and our paper itself is maybe not as aggressive as it was at one point at covering certain types of stories, we’re still very dedicated to doing important journalism,” he said.

Along with his full-time newspaper career, Dunseith also teaches editing and computer-assisted design courses at the University of Southern California.

His interest in working with students originated during his stint as the faculty advisor of the Truman Index in the ’80s. Dunseith enjoys being challenged by and receiving feedback from students. “It’s a nice reality check interacting with people who are just learning about journalism, because their perspective is different from what mine has been after 25 years of doing this,” Dunseith said.

While at Truman, Dunseith was involved with a variety of social, academic and professional organizations and also served as editor in chief of the Index. “One of the great things I found in Kirksville is that I had many opportunities to do lots of things.  There’s competition and great smart people there but there’s not so much competition that you don’t feel like you can contribute,” he said.

Dunseith believes Truman’s unique environment allows motivated students to take advantage of their time at Truman. “If you try hard and you persevere, you’re going to have an opportunity to do some things while you’re a student there that you’re proud of and that you’ll be proud to show off to a potential employer,” Dunseith said.―Jennifer Riebold

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