Talal Ansari focuses on foreign policy and affairs, international conflict and human rights issues abroad.
"The Unmanageables," by Sarah Ellison. Vanity Fair, January, 2015.
A long, detailed read on the inception, tribulations and growing pains of First Look Media. The combination of journalists and management is rarely anything but a powder keg, and the ungovernable characters at First Look Media are the epitome of muckrakers in a class of their own. The first painful purge has already occurred, and once the dust settles, I look forward to reading some investigative reporting our nation so desperately needs.
Naomi Gordon-Loebl focuses on queer and trans politics, youth and education, and the criminal justice system.
"My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK," by Kiese Laymon. Gawker, November 29, 2014.
In an essay that combines expertly crafted creative nonfiction with sharp political analysis, Kiese Laymon writes about race, violence and the institutional enforcement of white supremacy, all through the lens of his Vassar faculty ID. It's a haunting piece that needs no introduction—only a strong recommendation to read it, sit with it and read it again.
Edward Hart focuses on criminal justice, arts journalism and media ethics.
“How Not to Get Away With Murder,” by Michael J. Mooney. D Magazine, December 2014.
In his latest story for D Magazine, Michael J. Mooney begins with an attempted murder. Nancy Howard, a mother of three, was followed into her garage by a man with a gun who demanded her purse before he shot her in the temple. It sounds like a simple botched robbery, right? But then Mooney starts telling you everything that led up to the shooting and spins one of the most bizarre true crime stories you'll read this year by detailing how Howard's cheating husband embezzled $30 million from his employer and shelled out millions to a string of drug-addicted, incompetent hitmen over the years.
Yazmin Khan focuses on intersectionality, feminism, race, foreign affairs, politics and pop culture.
Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, by Eric Foner
These last two weeks have been crushing, exhausting and emotionally draining. First the non-indictment for Officer Darren Wilson was announced in Ferguson. It is a travesty of justice. This lack of an indictment led to a week of protests all over the country. This week, Eric Garner's death became the focus of even more protests when the grand jury failed to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for his murder. Despite his death being filmed. Despite the medical examiner ruling Garner's death a homicide. As an American who believes deeply in justice, not merely the procedure of the law, I feel deeply betrayed. I have read and listened to so many voices discussing what is happening and where we are as a country. All I can think of in response to this collective grief and anger is the title of Eric Foner's book about the period immediately following the Civil War. Titled Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, it deals primarily with events 150 years ago, but it might as well be about America right now. It is in that period of time, during Reconstruction, that the foundations of our unjust criminal legal system were laid. Policing and the law were constructed to target free African Americans. So for some historical perspective, I suggest this book. It is a long read. But Reconstruction was a time in the US where there was so much hope, and where subsequently, kowtowed by racism, so many mistakes were made. We are living out the horror of those mistakes everyday. Maybe when more of us understand why this systemic violence by the state against people of color happened, and keeps happening, we will have a better chance at making transformative change.
Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro focuses on world politics, social justice and technology.
"Spain gets passing grade in public sector corruption index," by Alejandra Torres Reyes. EL PAÍS, December 3, 2014.
Spain, my home country, has a relatively ethical public sector, according to the latest Corruption Perceptions Index by nonprofit Transparency International. Scoring 60 out of 100, Spain ranked 37th on a list of 175 countries, climbing up three places over the past year. This is both good and bad news for me and all Spaniards: we're doing ok in government accountability, but we can do a lot better. It's crucial that people, regardless of their nationality, hold their government(s) accountable—and this report underscores the importance of this statement. But the index is also a wake-up call for the media because we're supposed to be democracy watchdogs. So, if you want to see how ethical your government is, click here to access all the data.
NOTE: The report doesn't take into account political-party corruption, focusing solely on countries' public sectors.
Jessica McKenzie focuses on technology and politics, transparency and accountability.
"NYPD to begin testing body cameras amid chokehold ruling," by Reuven Fenton and Yoav Gonen. New York Post, December 2, 2014.
Mayor Bill de Blasio says that body cameras will bring greater transparency and accountability to the NYPD. Unfortunately, the grand jury decision to not indict Eric Garner, whose death at the hands of a police officer was caught on film, is a sober reminder that transparency does not necessarily lead to accountability. The NYC pilot program will cost $50,000. Obama is calling for millions (more than $250 million) to be spent on body cameras and training around the country. Many have questioned whether the potential gains are worth the increased surveillance of communities that are already heavily surveilled; the Eric Garner decision has them wondering whether the potential gains would ever materialize at all.
Muna Mire focuses on race, politics, criminal justice and social movements.
"The New Republic: An Appreciation," by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The Atlantic, December 9, 2014.
There are two parallel conversations taking place amongst journalists in the wake of TNR's collapse, "almost totally separated by race" as Vox's Matt Fisher writes. For journalists of color, there is a shocking amount of outrage that has been generated over recent events given years of silent complicity with TNR's long history of racist editorializing and questionable hiring practices. Where was the outrage before? What merits outrage amongst media makers and why? It's refreshing to read a prominent magazine journalist like Ta-Nehisi Coates name this uncomfortable and hurtful contradiction.
N’Kosi Oates focuses on race and politics, social justice, black identity, pop culture.
“If Our Grief Were Colorblind,” Connie Schulz. Creators.com, December 3, 2014.
Tamir Rice joined the list of blacks dying at the hands of police officers when Timothy Loehmann shot him. Rice, 12 years old, was playing with a toy gun when, approximately two seconds after Officer Loehmann’s arrival, he was shot to death. In an insightful column, Connie Schulz makes a very good point about the perception that is too often a familiar response to police brutality.
Allison Pohle focuses on feminism, labor and income inequality, education and health.
"Should Suicidal Students Be Forced To Leave Campus," by Rachel Aviv. The New Yorker, December 1, 2014.
In the winter of 2012, W.P., a Princeton freshman, tried to kill himself. Once he swallowed twenty pills, he thought of his mother and how upset she would be, and walked to the student health center. After three days in the hospital, when W.P. was physically recovered, Princeton's director of student life told him he was required to take a leave of absence and was no longer permitted on campus. He appealed the decision, but was denied. W.P's psychiatrist claims that a "sense of purpose" was important to his recovery. By banning him from campus, some might argue that Princeton officials took this away from him. W.P. moved back to his hometown and spent a year working in retail and attending therapy sessions before he was allowed to return to Princeton for the Spring '13 semester. Although W.P. was allowed to return, the debate continues. Does making a policy to ban suicidal students help them in the long run by giving them time to forget about coursework and devote all of their energy to recovery? Or does it eliminate a sense of purpose, making them feel more like failures and less motivated to get well? It's a tricky situation, especially because a student's life is on the line. As for W.P., he said "his year away was a 'growing experience, but not because Princeton made it so. I had no perspective on how time does move on.'"