Nieman News

The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard has published its first fully illustrated and commercially available e-book, “The Gates of Harvard Yard: The Complete Story, Words and Pictures, of a Great University’s Iconic Portals.”

Featuring clickable photos that offer 360-degree iPhone panoramas of many of the university’s gates, an interactive glossary, original blueprints of the gates, a map of Harvard Yard and archival “then” and “now” photographs, the e-book provides a visually rich reader experience and marks a promising new direction in digital storytelling for the foundation.

Edited, and co-written by journalist Blair Kamin, the Chicago Tribune’s Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic and a 2013 Nieman Fellow, the publication is the natural upshot of a Harvard Wintersession course on Harvard’s gates co-taught by Kamin and two other Nieman Fellows. Course participants were required to photograph and write about the subject for a class website.

Kamin took the still photographs for the e-book and was assisted in his efforts by Barbara McCarthy, Nieman’s web communications specialist, who shot the panoramas and designed the e-book for the iPad. Others who wrote for the e-book included the students enrolled in the class and Nieman Fellow Jeneen Interlandi, a narrative journalist who served as a writing coach. Nieman Finbarr O’Reilly, a Reuters photographer based in Africa, taught the students the basics of composition and the new possibilities of cellphone photography. And in a true team effort, Nieman Reports senior editor Jan Gardner copyedited the book with assistance from the magazine’s researcher/reporter Jonathan Seitz.

Nieman deputy curator James Geary first conceived the e-book idea and oversaw its development. “Having discovered an underreported aspect of Harvard’s architectural history, Blair Kamin brought enormous passion and expertise to chronicling the Yard’s 25 entry points,” Geary explained. “‘The Gates of Harvard Yard’ shows just how engaging and visually compelling a digital book can be. It’s not just a great use of the technology, but a great example of what a Nieman fellowship can produce.”

Nieman curator Ann Marie Lipinski added “The book, we hope, is an effective way of publicly documenting a fellow’s industry and expertise. Nieman has been home to many extraordinary inquiries and it’s gratifying when we can share that work with a wide audience.” The book is just one example of the new ways Nieman fellows are collaborating with and contributing to the Harvard community and beyond during their time on campus.

Kamin introduced the e-book during an event at the Cliff Dwellers Club for the Harvard Club of Chicago on August 13, 2013. View excerpts of the presentation.

“The Gates of Harvard Yard” is now available for purchase on iTunes.

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