Journalism alumnus Washington Post-bound


Nowshin Chowdhury

Former photo editor at the Oakland Post Salwan Georges will begin work as photojournalist at the Washington Post in early April.

Alumnus Salwan Georges has made it big in the journalism world.

The winter 2015 graduate was recently hired by The Washington Post as a photojournalist.

The newspaper reached out to Georges by phone to ask him for an interview. The staff was familiar with his work because he freelanced for the paper in late 2015.

Georges most recently spent a little more than a year at the Detroit Free Press, after wrapping up a successful term as photo editor of The Oakland Post and graduating from Oakland. He said he will miss working there.

“The Free Press gave me a life-changing opportunity,” he said. “I’m very thankful for them.”

Georges’ favorite assignment with the Free Press was an article about a family of Sudanese refugees who had recently moved to Detroit. Their story hit close to home, as Georges came to Michigan as an Iraqi refugee in 2004.

Along with his newspaper work, Georges is working on a photo documentary that focuses on Iraqi refugees in metro Detroit as part of an advanced, three-year visual storytelling and documentary photography mentorship through the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado. Ed Kashi—whose work has appeared in National Geographic—and James Estrin of The New York Times are mentors for the program.

Georges plans to return to metro Detroit regularly to continue his work with refugees, many of whom he keeps in touch with.

“I still visit them to this day,” he said of the Sudanese family. “I didn’t view them as a subject.”

Georges said he will miss the area and his family in metro Detroit.

“It’s hard to leave Detroit,” he said. “It’s my hometown.”

Ryan Garza, staff photographer at the Free Press, said Georges’ work is impactful in part because, as a refugee, Georges can relate to his subjects.

“That’s always going to be a more powerful story,” Garza said, adding that Georges spends evenings and weekends with his subjects.

Garza said Georges has a passion for learning. Along with the Anderson Ranch Arts Center mentorship, Georges gained photography and videography skills while at the Free Press.

Garza is happy for Georges, but seeing him leave the Free Press is bittersweet.

“Seeing someone that’s hungry and doing great work, it’s sad to see him go,” Garza said.

The two plan to keep in touch.

While Georges is climbing the journalism ladder, his work is far from done. His goal is to make a positive impact on the communities he photographs.

He already has for the Sudanese family.

“When that story came out, it really changed their lives,” he said.

Donations and help flooded in from native Detroiters and other refugees.

Georges sees his new job as an opportunity to help refugees by making “these stories more international,” he said.

His work for The Washington Post begins on April 10.