Louisiana has lost her boot

One of the principles of strong writing is “show, don’t tell.” Effective communication provides examples and evidence rather than simply description.

And visuals naturally do this. Visuals show; they don’t just tell.

A recent science news story has used visual evidence to great effect, showing and not just telling.

Louisiana, my beloved home state, has long been considered to look like a “boot.” And the boot shape is visually prominent throughout Louisiana; it’s used on road signs, tourist promotions, and more. Some have even called the boot shape the state’s “trademark.”

But the reality is this: Louisiana no longer looks like a boot. The alarming fact is that Louisiana’s coastline is disappearing at the rate of a football field every hour. Yes, you read that correctly. A football field every hour.

The great loss of land is due to levee construction, oil and gas exploration, and sea level rise. These three processes “reinforce and amplify” each other’s effects.

Louisiana’s coastline is rapidly changing. And Louisiana’s shape no longer resembles a boot. In an in-depth, investigative piece Bob Marshall, a Pulitzer-winning journalist, shows that “Louisiana is drowning, quickly.” The piece includes a number of informational graphics that allow audiences to see and interact with the visual evidence.

companion piece on Medium.com argues that we should change geo and political maps to reflect Louisiana’s new reality, providing powerful visual evidence of the new reality:

“The boot-shaped state isn’t shaped like a boot anymore. That’s why we revised its iconic outline to reflect the truth about a sinking, disappearing place.”


Words are reinforced with visual evidence to show and not just tell. Louisiana has lost her boot, and the visual evidence is staggering. The visuals provide evidence that we cannot ignore.

Visuals help us tell more effective stories. One way they do this is through providing evidence. Visuals show; they don’t just tell.

Images courtesy: https://medium.com/matter/louisiana-loses-its-boot-b55b3bd52d1e


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