Journalism & design


May-October 2020: I started a contract design job at The Washington Post in the middle of a pandemic. Shortly after settling in to the new job and city, protests around the country erupted after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer. When some fled the city, I resolved to stay where I was to witness history in the making. These seemingly routine front pages and photo spreads serve as documentation of the moments I worked through up against deadline with many people of the Post newsroom that I have yet to meet in person. I believe they each speak to the power of those moments. Within three months, I designed A1, which was an unprecedented responsibility for a contractor.

Sept. 19, 2020: The announcement of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg came at about 7:30 p.m. on a day when I would have handed off the front page at 8. Instead, I hopped on phone calls with the team working that night to set a plan. We decided to take one story off the front page to get the Ginsburg obit across the top. The inside pages had, thankfully, been designed in advance and the other designers that night worked with output management to get the space. By the 9 p.m. deadline, we had reworked the entire page and gotten the full obit in. For the second edition, I worked closely with editors to set up the totally new front, which included holding even more stories and minimizing the teases at the bottom of the page. On a group call, we all discussed which photo to use and looked at one option with a vertical photo. It ultimately stayed inside as the main photo because it would have to crop too much on the front. We added more Ginsburg-related stories with a final count of four starts on the front page, all framing the very striking, close-cropped portrait of her.

‘Am I making the right choice?’
June 2, 2020: The struggles of a family in Dallas illustrate the confusion over how to maintain familial bonds during covid-19, a disease that has come with contradictory guidelines and caused emotional and mental turmoil. I worked closely with the photo editor to find the proper ratio of photos to copy, achieving optimal pacing of visuals throughout the web presentation.

Latinos transformed Arizona. Do campaigns see them?
July 29, 2020: A woman living in Maricopa County, Arizona hopes changes in her home state will translate to more political power for its Latinos, many of whom have felt alienated by the Republican Party’s rhetoric on racial justice and immigration. Although these voters have historically been written off by national campaign strategists, Democrats increasingly believe they could provide crucial voting margins for Joe Biden in November.

‘Are you really going to impeach me?’: How the Ukraine bombshell unfolded over 48 hours and laid bare Trump’s fixation with Biden
Aug. 21, 2020: As an excerpt from ‘Trump on Trial,’ a book written by Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan of The Washington Post, it was a little more difficult than usual to set this up for the web. I worked closely with a photo editor to make sure we were pairing photos from the times reflected in the story. It was also important to me to keep the design clean and distinct as something that was not a run-of-the-mill news story, but also had many elements like book cover and an audio transcript. Most recent excerpts published online had not been in this format, so that was a challenge as well.

Pregnant in a pandemic
June 30, 2020:
For pregnant women in Texas wrote letters to their unborn children about the chaos of 2020 and their hopes for the future. Online, I grouped each vignette with portraits of the women and their full letters. I worked with the photo editor and designers to make sure the letters were legible on all platforms. Not published in print as of August 27, 2020.
‘I’m scared’
July 30, 2020: As the owner of a factory in Maine struggles to decide whether to stay open during the raging pandemic, many of the employees fit the demographic most hit by the virus — black immigrants. This story contained so many rich highlights of people as they worked and interacted with the community. The photos were striking in composition and color and led to many back-and-forth conversations with the photo editor to see which combination best served the reader. Not published in print as of August 27, 2020.
Moments of Kamala Harris’s career captured in photos
Aug. 14, 2020: Sen. Kamala Harris made history this year, becoming the first woman of color to be on a major-party presidential ticket when Joe Biden selected her as his running mate. Throughout her life, Harris has had her share of firsts. It’s a visual story that looks at Kamala Harris’s career, from Howard to California’s Attorney General and the U.S. Senate to her presidential run and becoming Biden’s pick for vice president.


March 1, 2020: A Tampa Bay Times investigation showed the armored truck company, GardaWorld, took shortcuts in building up its global company. In doing so, poorly maintained armored trucks driven by ill-trained employees led to many preventable deaths. Several months were spent crafting the visual presentations of this hefty story. I worked closely with the reporter, editor and web team to get the print and digital versions to complement each other in style and content. I also helped gather resources for the story, as a large portion of the photos were pulled from news organizations across the country.
Click here to see the web presentation of Moving millions, leaving mayhem.


Oct. 20, 2019: Investigation of the Church of Scientology’s quiet acquisition of property in downtown Clearwater, Fla. over the course of three years.
I pulled facts and quotes from this investigative story to draw in more readers on social media. The colors matched the print presentation.


May 5, 2019: Hundreds of graves in one of Tampa’s first African-American cemeteries were forgotten about and built upon until this story, which led to X-rays of the underground and the discovery of even more bodies left behind than originally thought.

The original map and question of what happened to the bodies were chilling enough to use on their own for social media.


Dec. 16 – Dec. 23, 2018: This 8-part series, written by Lane DeGregory, included many firsts for Tampa Bay Times design. From the full-page inside photo each day to the above-the-mast story starts on days two through seven, to the fonts used in the labeling, I had to convince others it was worth doing. My goal with every project is to make it stand out. I believe all those elements helped tell the story of Lincoln. The following pages are from days one, four and eight.
For a follow-up story that ran nine months later, I designed social cards to give readers just enough information to know that Lincoln and his family were still out there trying to make a life for themselves.


Dec. 2, 2018: Reporters discovered several deaths of children due to carelessness during heart surgeries at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla. In many cases, the families of the deceased children were unaware of the causes of death. The original story became a Pulitzer finalist and had many follow-ups, including one shown at the end (April 14, 2019), which covered what the hospital’s attempts to right wrongs.


January 21, 2017: One of my favorite things about newspaper design is the idea that people may keep a page until it becomes brittle and yellow. Putting together the record of a presidential inauguration was one of the first major career bucket list items I crossed off.


Many of these pages were recognized by groups like the Society for News Design and the Florida Society of News Editors as examples of good work. The first two came from national news events: the Las Vegas shooting and the legalization of gay marriage in the U.S. The third was a Sunday Business cover requiring art direction with a freelance illustrator, the fourth was a Sunday 1A cover that warranted a typographic element to help it stand out. The last one, a rare Hurricane Edition which was distributed to hurricane shelters in the Tampa Bay area outside of regular delivery hours during 2017’s Hurricane Irma, represents perhaps the most stressed out I’ve been under working conditions. All of these stand out as examples of true newsroom collaboration requiring much discussion.


Hi, I’m Tara. I believe good design is instinctual and only truly exists if there’s good material to work with. Luckily, there’s no shortage of that in journalism — a field I knew I wanted to work in when I was 10 years old. I’m driven by the need to know and the need to document, which feed directly into journalism. I design primarily news projects for print and online and lean toward the simple, practical side of design. I thrive in collaborative atmospheres, breaking news situations and warm weather.

I recently moved to Washington D.C. from St. Petersburg, Fla. and so far I believe the latter wins the hug of humidity debate. I was born in Provo, Utah, the fifth of six children. I have 15 nieces and nephews and one dog.

Catch me tweeting about the day’s #catcalls, my #textswithmom or advocating for transparency and local journalism.