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#406: The Journalism Issue
Racism, scandal, and two feel-good stories about the news
Welcome, new subscribers (there are many of you), and welcome back, loyal readers! Thank you for being here.
This week’s issue is about journalism. Ever since I started reading the Sporting Green when I was 10, I’ve loved leafing through a print newspaper every morning. My beloved high school journalism teacher Nick Ferentinos championed the rights and responsibilities of a free press — and made sure we practiced them. I’m even part of a “Journalism Club,” where we discuss issues that the news industry is facing. Maybe I’m not a news junkie, but I’m certainly an enthusiast.
We know journalism is struggling (for example: newspapers are dying, trust in the news is plummeting). But like last week, I didn’t want to choose articles with familiar headlines. The point of Article Club, after all, is to offer a variety of viewpoints from a variety of publications. That’s why I’m pleased with this week’s pieces, which include:
A history of racism in American newsrooms, focusing on The Philadelphia Inquirer
A profile of perhaps the worst plagiarist-fabulist journalist of all time
Two feel-good stories: how young people and small-town reporters are getting scoops and making journalism proud
I hope you read and listen to one (or more) of this week’s selections. If you do, and if they resonate, please share your thoughts with the Article Club community. All you need to do is click the button below. I’d love to hear from you.
Philadelphia is considered by many as the birthpace of American democracy. But if this is true, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Wesley Lowery writes, then “to be the birthplace of American democracy is also to be the birthplace of American inequality.”
In this outstanding article, an in-depth report on The Philadelphia Inquirer, Mr. Lowery explains how the esteemed newspaper got its roots nearly 200 years ago and how the murder of George Floyd made clear that the publication had long failed at serving its community, in particular its Black readership.
While the report focuses on one newspaper, Mr. Lowery raises universal questions about the role of the press in American society and whether white-dominated institutions, once interrogated, can become more equitable without a total overhaul.
Back in the last millennium, when the truth mattered, a man named Stephen Glass wanted to make it big in journalism. He landed a job at The New Republic, endeared himself to his colleagues with self-deprecatory charm, and got to work — reporting and writing and churning out some solid pieces. But then he asked himself: Is there a better way? Yes, there was, he decided. That’s when Mr. Glass started making up exciting, bombastic, sensationalistic stories out of whole cloth.
This profile by his former friend Hanna Rosin not only summarizes the scandal but also explores issues of trust, redemption, and forgiveness. Can a reporter who breaks the most important rule in journalism (and then lies about it) truly change his ways? At what point can we believe a liar again?
This four-part series by young journalists in New York City is a must-listen if you care about education, equity, and the future of news. Reporters from The Bell follow two school newspapers and their staffs as they build their journalism programs in a segregated system in which resources go disproportionately to established schools with predominantly white populations. The podcast does an outstanding job making the case that all schools should have a robust journalism program.
By Wesley Almanzar, Jadelyn Camey, Fredlove Deshommes, Edward Mui and Jayden Williams • The Bell • 2 hours (4 parts) • Apple Podcasts
Don’t worry, this isn’t a podcast episode about George Santos. But it is an episode about how George Santos got exposed. And it wasn’t The New York Times that did the exposing — even though the Gray Lady got the credit. (That’s often the case in journalism.) In reality, it was the North Shore Leader, a local small-town newspaper out of Long Island, that got the scoop. In this interview, New Yorker reporter Clare Malone explains how the Leader realized Mr. Santos was a total phony, how the paper reported the story, and how its editor and staff members felt when their more-famous competitors got the glory.
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