Patrick Radden Keefe Gets to the Bottom of It

If you’re a sucker for hearing how great journalists report and structure their work — and who isn’t? — this Q&A with New Yorker write-around specialist Patrick Radden Keefe makes for a perfect Monday read.

It’s always the same: It starts with a series of big beats. If it’s an article, it starts with eight beats on the back of an envelope, so I’ll know where the piece starts, I’ll know where I want the transition after the first section to be, and even if I’m feeling my way, I’ll know where the big moments are later on. The reason it’s useful to do the outline on the back of an envelope is that I naturally gravitate to complicated stories — and I like the complication — but I think you need to back away from that and be able to see the topography of the story.

Author: Ava Kofman
Source: ProPublica
Published: Jul 18, 2022
Length: 13 minutes (3,271 words)

Black Children Were Jailed for a Crime That Doesn’t Exist. Almost Nothing Happened to the Adults in Charge.

“What happened on that Friday and in the days after, when police rounded up even more kids, would expose an ugly and unsettling culture in Rutherford County, one spanning decades. In the wake of these mass arrests, lawyers would see inside a secretive legal system that’s supposed to protect kids, but in this county did the opposite.”

Source: ProPublica
Published: Oct 8, 2021
Length: 39 minutes (9,757 words)

Heeding Steve Bannon’s Call, Election Deniers Organize to Seize Control of the GOP — and Reshape America’s Elections

“The stolen election myth inspired thousands of Trump supporters to take over the Republican Party at the local level, exerting more partisan influence on how elections are run.”

Source: ProPublica
Published: Sep 2, 2021
Length: 21 minutes (5,342 words)

Thousands of Patients Were Implanted With Heart Pumps That the FDA Knew Could Be Dangerous

“Inspectors repeatedly found manufacturing and device quality problems with the HeartWare heart pump. But the FDA did not penalize the company, and patients had the device implanted on their hearts without knowing the facts.”

Author: Neil Bedi
Source: ProPublica
Published: Aug 5, 2021
Length: 20 minutes (5,233 words)

The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax

“ProPublica has obtained a vast cache of IRS information showing how billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett pay little in income tax compared to their massive wealth — sometimes, even nothing.”

Source: ProPublica
Published: Jun 8, 2021
Length: 22 minutes (5,717 words)

‘This Is How You Get Your Power Back’

“Brady’s team, though, had been haunted by a serial rapist they could not identify, much less arrest. His DNA had been found in a half-dozen old cases in which evidence remained at the hospital.” The final installment in a three-part “Cold Justice” series.

Source: ProPublica
Published: May 25, 2021
Length: 16 minutes (4,204 words)

The Child Care Industry Was Collapsing. Mrs. Jackie Bet Everything on an Impossible Dream to Save It.

“Jackie Thomas was $29,134 in debt and in trouble with state regulators. She hadn’t slept in days. If a judge ruled against her, she’d fail the mothers who could only keep their jobs thanks to the 24-hour child care she offered.”

Source: ProPublica
Published: May 1, 2021
Length: 21 minutes (5,300 words)

Texas Enabled the Worst Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Catastrophe in Recent U.S. History

“They used their car to stay warm when a winter storm brought down the Texas power grid. In a state that doesn’t require carbon monoxide alarms in homes, they had no warning they were poisoning themselves.”

Source: ProPublica
Published: Apr 29, 2021
Length: 17 minutes (4,433 words)

“I Felt Hate More Than Anything”

“How an active duty airman tried to start a civil war.”

Source: ProPublica
Published: Apr 13, 2021
Length: 18 minutes (4,622 words)

The Broken Front Line

“The wave of coronavirus cases that swept across the country late last year put even the most battle-hardened EMTs under unprecedented psychological strain.”

Author: Ava Kofman
Source: ProPublica
Published: Apr 7, 2021
Length: 23 minutes (5,890 words)