On the front of today’s print edition of the Wall Street Journal, readers will find a stark, blank page. Above it, the top headline reads, “HIS STORY SHOULD BE HERE.” 

The missing article is attributed to Evan Gershkovich, a correspondent for the Journal who was detained by Russian security forces during a reporting trip a year ago today. His imprisonment was made under accusations of espionage—a charge that’s strongly denied by the Journal and the U.S. government. During his 12 months behind bars, Gershkovich has missed family holidays, trips with friends, and the opportunity to continue working in a country that relatives say he cares for deeply. He is the first reporter to be imprisoned on spying charges in Russia since the end of the Cold War.

[Photo: Mother]

“Up until his detention, Evan had always been a magnet for friends, scooping up groups of them wherever he lived,” reporter Eliot Brown wrote in the Journal’s March 29 cover story. “Now sprinkled around the globe, they describe a year in which their lives have moved along while thoughts of Evan’s suspended animation loom at every point.”

Throughout today’s edition of the Journal, there are several other blank spaces where Gershkovich’s articles might have appeared. Below an empty rectangle for a missing photo, the caption reads, “UNREPORTED: There is no editorial photo when there is no story.”

According to Alex Dousie, SVP of brand marketing for the Journal’s parent company, Dow Jones, the idea behind the print spread came from a collaboration among his team, the creative company Mother, and the Journal’s newsroom. The design is the first of its kind for the publication.

“From the start, there was a shared understanding of the importance of Evan’s story and the unified desire to do something bold and meaningful to mark this solemn anniversary,” Dousie says. “Our journalists gave us the vital context of Evan’s detainment, his outstanding work, and the broader implications for press freedom, and then we sat down with Mother and really worked on how we could translate those insights into striking creative concepts.”

[Photo: Mother]

In a LinkedIn post revealing the design, Dousie wrote, “Sometimes the loudest statements require no words at all. Today’s blank front page of The Wall Street Journal speaks volumes.” So far, he says, the public reaction from readers and fellow news outlets has been overwhelmingly positive.

Journal editor-in-chief Emma Tucker told CNN this week that she’s hopeful Gershkovich will be freed by this time next year. In order for that to happen, she said, people need to “keep Evan front of mind” and maintain pressure on the governments involved. 

For Dousie, today’s print issue is another step toward eventually securing Gershkovich’s release. “Journalism is not a crime,” Doursie says. “And we hope that this helps get Evan home to his family.”

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