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Best Journalism of 2009
February 25, 2010 3:31 PM   Subscribe

Looking for something to read? Check out the best journalism Conor Friedersdorf encountered in 2009. And in 2008. He also updates a twitter feed with pieces he comes across that he either missed or that might make onto a 2010 list.
posted by AceRock (16 comments total) 66 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jesus, I've just looked through the first part of the 2009 link and it's AWESOME. Great post!
posted by OmieWise at 3:59 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


YES PLEASE, thank you.
posted by vito90 at 4:24 PM on February 25, 2010


Great post! I'd like to smugly note that Ive read/ listened to 80% of the 2009 list. I'd like to un-smugly note that many of the stories I read were from FPP's here on the blue!
posted by photoslob at 4:29 PM on February 25, 2010


Good stuff. I'm really a huge fan of anthologized magazine articles made into books.

1. Each article is short enough to finish in one quick sitting - great for multi-tasking.
2. Each is compact, the big ideas are there. Many of them go on to become books, but often the book-length version is not as good and takes forever to get the same information as in the original magazine article.
3. If you don't like an article, skip it and move on to the next. It's a bag of chips.
4. As a book, it has the advantages of a book without the distractions of a magazine (adds, weird formatted columns, pictures), or the issues of reading lots of text online.

I put together a similar page (self-link) that slums off the Best American Science and Nature Writing series linking to those articles that are online.
posted by stbalbach at 4:33 PM on February 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Is this something I would need to Conor Friedersbourg about to understand?
posted by Slap Factory at 4:40 PM on February 25, 2010


Is this something I would need to Conor Friedersbourg about to understand?

Nope, not at all.

Great post!
posted by snsranch at 4:44 PM on February 25, 2010


Thanks for this. I recently lost hours perusing the most recent National Magazine Awards for 2009 (you want to scroll down a bit to get to the prizes for individual articles). If you still want more, check out Texas Monthly's list of awards; to my mind they do some of the best long-form journalism around. I love magazine journalism.
posted by lalex at 4:47 PM on February 25, 2010


I'm still shocked and dismayed that this:

The New Yorker
Trial By Fire by David Grann


hasn't made more of a splash. The whole country should be having nightmares about it, and yet almost everyone I recommend it to has never heard of it.
posted by sallybrown at 5:19 PM on February 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wonderful - thanks AceRock.
posted by tellurian at 5:23 PM on February 25, 2010


Sallybrown: there was a pretty good metafilter thread about it, so at least we are well-informed about how much our world sucks.
posted by Think_Long at 6:28 PM on February 25, 2010


Note that virtually all of these pieces come from print publications that pay writers serious money to take serious time to write serious journalism. One or two shorter pieces from Slate-- but the rest is Washington Post (which owns Slate now), New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Atlantic.
posted by Maias at 6:56 PM on February 25, 2010


sallybrown: "I'm still shocked and dismayed that this: The New Yorker Trial By Fire by David Grann hasn't made more of a splash. The whole country should be having nightmares about it, and yet almost everyone I recommend it to has never heard of it."

I just read it a few days ago in his new book The Devil and Sherlock Holmes. It's just one of a dozen amazing stories by Grann. It is definitely nightmarish. There have been more recent developments in the case (see October posts) that muddy the waters (like his wife saying he admitted to killing the children).
posted by stbalbach at 6:57 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've read some already and went through some of the others; the 2009 list is pretty good, but the 2008 list has a couple of obvious duds. I'd dreaded looking at the one by Caitlin Flanagan, based on my perusal of some of her other work, and my fears were justified: the "personal essay" (as Friedersdorf calls it) is really supposed to be a review of a biography of Katie Couric, but the first three of four pages is really Flanagan's intense absorption with her perception of Couric (conclusion: she became no fun after her husband died). And Anthony Lane's review of Wanted isn't nearly as funny as he seems to think it is; at one point, he japes:
One day, presumably a wet Thursday, a secret society of medieval weavers suddenly decided to create an even more secret society of global assassins. This was done, apparently, to maintain “the balance of the world,” a principle reiterated later in the film, but the episode leaves you panting to know more. Why weavers? Why not potters, or pastry cooks? Until now, I never made the connection between haberdashery and homicide, but “Wanted” is determined to prove the link, and viewers will certainly think twice before joining their local knitting circle.
Either he didn't catch the reference to Greek mythology, or he's pretending that he didn't; either way, it doesn't do much for the New Yorker's reputation.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:49 PM on February 25, 2010


I've read about half the works on this list, maybe a bit less, but I'm most impressed by the John Conroy piece he picks, called "A Mugging on Lake Street". I feel like a lot of American writing on race is didactic and predictable -- because there is so much education left to be done, and clear messages are still really valuable -- but this essay spends its time and energy in the examination of nuance, the questioning of assumptions, and the search for applied ethics, rather than abstractions.

I hope we can get writing like this outside of the for-pay magazine system; even inside it, it seems all too rare!
posted by Valet at 9:19 PM on February 25, 2010


The heartbreaking Weingarten piece produced quite a lot of interesting discussion when it was on the Blue back in March.
posted by aheckler at 4:05 AM on February 26, 2010


I'm glad the list is so This American Life-heavy. I started listening to the show again after an inexplicable hiatus, and this is a good way to narrow down the list of episodes I missed to the ones I should listen to.
posted by ekroh at 6:53 AM on February 26, 2010


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