We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in specific categories. Here, the best in science writing.
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We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in specific categories. Here, the best in investigative reporting.
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Senior Reporting Fellow at ProPublica.
I can’t remember another investigation that had as much widespread and immediate impact as this one. Through a year of persistent and patient reporting, Nir uncovered the ugly truth of New York’s nail salon industry: the labor exploitation, institutionalized racism, and dire health risks faced by its manicurists. It was an explosive story, but Nir told it with restraint. When this came out, everyone I knew was talking about it. Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio both pretty much immediately launched emergency task forces and investigations to address the problems Nir described. Reforms continue to roll out for salon owners who put their workers at risk.
But I noticed a subtler impact, too: some real soul-searching among New Yorkers about the ethics of indulging in cheap luxuries—for many of us, the only luxuries we can afford. A lot of readers were asking themselves, how could we have not have seen it? “We hold hands with this person for a half hour; we look into her eyes,” as Nir later put it. “I think my investigation revealed that we are not seeing them.” Read more…
We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in specific categories. Here, the best in business and tech.
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We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in specific categories. Here, the best in arts and culture writing.
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Senior writer with Sportsnet magazine
Stephen Colbert has pulled off the rare feat of being a public figure for the better part of a decade while keeping his true self almost entirely obscured behind a braying façade. Here, with such uncommon intelligence, sensitivity and nuance, Joel Lovell shows us who’s been under there the whole time. The writer is very present in the story, sifting through the meaning of what he finds and tugging us along behind him through reporting and writing that starts out rollicking and then turns surprisingly raw and emotional. But Lovell never gets in his own way or turns self-indulgent; that’s a tough thing to pull off. The word I kept coming back to in thinking about this story was “humane”—it just feels so complex and wise, and unexpectedly aching, buoyed with perfect, telling details and effortlessly excellent writing. Read more…
We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in specific categories. Here, the best in crime reporting.
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Articles Editor at Boston magazine.
This is easily one of my favorite stories of the year, regardless of genre. Sure it has buried treasure, 70 pounds of cocaine, and a questionable undercover sting in the Caribbean, but it’s also a tale about the power of story and good story telling. I’m pretty sure I emailed Riley’s opener to more people this year than any other, which starts like the seductive thrum of a GTO:
Good Goddamn, the way Julian told that story. It was the sort of story that imbued the mind with possibility. That lingered like campfire smoke in a sweater.
But it wasn’t just the particulars of the story—Julian burying the million-dollar stash of coral-white cocaine he’d found washed up on the beach in Culebra—that captured Rodney Hyden’s imagination. It was the sounds of the story—the slithering South Carolina accent, the whistly snicker at parts that weren’t funny to anyone but Julian. And the picture of the storyteller, too. The silver hair down around Julian’s shoulders, the big Gandalf beard distracting from his slight frame, the bare feet, and always that Mason jar of wine that kept bottoming out and filling right back up again.
I mean, c’mon. Read more…
We asked our book editors to tell us about a few books they felt deserved more recognition in 2015. Here they are.
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I read this book in one fast gulp, anxious fingers poised to flip the page. In Kirk Lynn’s debut novel, a band of young runaways moves swiftly through the suburbs, squatting in foreclosed houses and in the homes of unwitting vacationers, wild eyes trained on the promise of a self-made utopia. The thrills and pleasures of this new society are the benign trappings of suburbia (well-stocked refrigerators, lavender soap, the privacy of closed doors) coupled with the first bright licks of freedom. As the pack grows tighter, defining the boundaries of its own morals and ideology, it also grows more feral. Unbridled idealism and independence begin to unravel into violent and irreparable ends.
Structurally, Rules for Werewolves seems to borrow from Lynn’s background as a playwright: the book is composed of alternating sections, some of which are monologues from shifting perspectives; the rest is raw dialogue, high velocity and high stakes, deftly capturing the insecurities, intoxication, and desperation of people determined to survive on their own terms. From the pack’s pastoral vision to Kirk’s unsettling depiction of the waning American suburbs—littered with empty houses, an echo of unrealized aspirations—the book reminds that utopia’s volatility comes always from within. Read more…
We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in specific categories. Here, the best in essays and criticism. Read more…
We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in various categories. Here, the best in sports writing.
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Senior Writer at ESPN the Magazine and espn.com.
This is Why NFL Star Greg Hardy was Arrested for Assaulting his Girlfriend (Diana Moskovitz, Deadspin)
Last year, the NFL was rocked by several incidents of domestic violence, starting in September with the release of a video of Ray Rice’s assault of his then-fiancee and peaking in February, when charges against star defensive end Greg Hardy were dismissed after his accuser disappeared. By November, most football fans had moved on. Diana Moskovitz did not. She continued to tirelessly report on the issue, and in November, Deadspin published a devastating scoop: pictures that showed exactly what happened between Hardy and his ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, that night in Charlotte. Moskovitz’s piece, which laid out the facts of the case in meticulous detail, forced many to confront what had happened. It also pushed readers to ask why it took photographic evidence to make the world care.
A common criticism of longform writing, especially on the internet, is that it’s too self-centered; too many features rely on the first person, and too many writers insert themselves into their pieces. This is often true. But sometimes, as with the case of this stunning Spencer Hall essay, it’s an incredibly effective technique.
By juxtaposing the story of his own family’s financial struggles with the larger story of the systematic impoverishment of college athletes, Hall compels readers to look at the issue in a new way: through the lens of personal pain. He shows us that the controversy over whether college athletes should be paid for their services isn’t an intellectual or economic debate, but an ethical one. By denying athletes the right to earn a living, the NCAA forces them to live with the looming threat of financial insecurity—an ache that Hall himself knows all too well. Read more…
This year marked Longreads’ first full year producing original stories with many of our favorite writers. We also published exclusives in partnership with other publishers—and all of these stories were funded by Longreads Members, with a match from WordPress.com.
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