Best of 2013,
A data journalism professor's experiment reveals a very big problem with standardized tests at the schools in Philadelphia.
It broke the WikiLeaks story, then the Snowden scandal, now Alan Rusbridger's crusading newspaper is trying to break America. But with its US campaign on the brink of disaster, has the deadline passed to beat a dignified retreat?
News outlets want to break big stories but at the same time not be overwhelmed by them - a certain detachment is well advised. It is an artful line. But the Guardian essentially went into the Edward Snowden business - and continues in it. It's a complex business, too: to ally yourself with larger-than-life, novelistic characters, first Assange, and then Snowden, and stranger-than-strange middle men, like the Guardian's contract columnist Glenn Greenwald, who brought in the story. The effort to pretend that the story is straight up good and evil, that this is journalism pure and simple, unalloyed public interest, without peculiar nuances and rabbit holes and obvious contradictions, is really quite a trick.
A look back at 2005, the year YouTube, Perez Hilton and Oprah’s couch changed how we looked at celebrity:
Hilton had already nicknamed Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie “Brangelina” (“It was just such a long time ago that people don’t remember,” he sighs). When Cruise coupled with Katie Holmes, Hilton was thrilled to have another massive romance to flog. TomKat went public on April 27, and PerezHilton.com embraced their relationship with exuberant cynicism. Wrote Hilton, “We can’t get enough of the TomKat show because eventually the paint will start to chip and we will hopefully see all the ugliness as openly as we’ve been shoved the lovey-dovey bullshit.”
Photographer Nina Berman, a professor at Columbia's Journalism School, on the evolving state of photojournalism:
There are stylistic trends in art and in literature, and everyone acknowledges them. But rarely are they cited in photojournalism, perhaps because people still cling to the idea of photography as an objective or neutral medium that captures a shared truth. There is nothing remotely objective about photography. Where I stand, how I got to that spot, where I direct my lens, what I frame, how I expose the image, what personal and cultural factors influence these decisions — all are intensely subjective.
This year's Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction was awarded yesterday to Dan Fagin, an NYU science journalism professor, for Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation. According to the Pulitzer committee, Fagin's book, which chronicles the effects of chemical waste dumping on a small New Jersey community, "deftly combines investigative reporting and historical research to probe a New Jersey seashore town’s cluster of childhood cancers linked to water and air pollution." Thank you to Fagin and Bantam Books for allowing us to reprint the excerpt here.
Notes from all the stories we read this week, including the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed and Matter.