We asked writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in various categories. Here is the best in profiles.
When a Missing Nickel Makes All the Difference
“Yet money was a lie—pieces of paper and metal suggesting prices for goods, services, labor, and human beings themselves in a way that often had more to do with profit than with true value.”
An Interview with Sarah Smarsh, Author of ‘Heartland’
The author of “Heartland,” a National Book Award longlisted memoir about growing up poor in rural America, gives her views on politics, identity, and cultural appropriation.
Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth
“There’s an idea that laborers end up in their role because it’s all they’re suited for. What put us there, though, was birth, family history — not lack of talent for something else.”
Behind The Writing: On Interviewing
In her first column on craft, Sarah Menkedick speaks with Sarah Smarsh, Lauren Markham, and Jennifer Percy on the art of the interview.
Plasma For Sale (Used) — $20 a Pop
Sarah Smarsh’s brother has sold his plasma for the last decade to make ends meet under mounting credit card debt and student loans.
Sarah Smarsh writes about how rich drug companies buy plasma from the poor and working poor — literally feeding their wealth with one of the few renewable resources the poor have to sell — their blood.
Who’s to Blame for Trump? Media’s Socioeconomic Blind Spots
It wasn’t poor whites who criminalized blackness by way of marijuana laws and the “war on drugs.” Nor was it poor whites who conjured the specter of the black “welfare queen.” These points should not minimize the horrors of racism at the lowest economic rungs of society, but remind us that those horrors reside at […]
The Case for More Female Cops
Nearly nine out of ten cops are men. Sarah Smarsh discusses the police force’s gender problem and a Wichita woman’s efforts inside the criminal justice system that failed her.
Interview: ‘Poor Teeth’ Writer Sarah Smarsh on Class and Journalism
“There often is a ‘tone’ in writing about the poor. There is a presumption that people of a certain class are mired in misery.”