Saturday, October 15, 2005

Foreclosing on the American Dream

Owning a house has always been part of the American dream, but Suzette Hackney of the Detroit Free Press has found that a growing number of Michigan families are losing their homes to foreclosure. In "Families Fight for their Homes," she tells us of the plight of the Lamberger family, who are struggling to keep their house while caught in a financial vise. Hackney succeeds in giving us the hard data on foreclosures, analyzing why the trend is happening and reaching our hearts through her portrayal of the Lambergers' tribulations.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Breaking the Silence

Reporting stories about rape is difficult because of the fear and shame that victims often have. But Pam Louwagie and Dan Browning of the Minneapolis Star Tribune are able to tell the story of how immigrant girls in the Hmong community in the Twin Cities area are being sexually assaulted in frightening numbers. Louwagie's and Browning's story, "Shamed into Silence," tells of this suffering through the ordeal of one Hmong teen and describes how the community is struggling to combat the problem. Warning: this is a disturbing and graphic story.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Quake Coverage

I usually restrict my Gems to U.S. publications and outlets, but in the case of the terrible South Asian earthquake on Saturday, I'm making an exception. BBC News has put together comprehensive coverage of the calamity, using powerful photos, video and maps to complement its crisply written stories. Some U.S. newspapers and broadcasters are starting to catch up, but the BBC got a head start because it invests more heavily in its international coverage.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The American Dream Islamic Style

What's it like to be a Muslim living in the heart of middle America? Adam Minter gave me a sense of it in his feature story "Who are the American Muslims?" published in the Rake, a monthly Twin Cities magazine. Minter's story paints a portrait of the Muslim community in Rochester, Minn., by telling about their lives, their troubles and their prayers. The people he presented came through vividly on the page to help me understand America's fastest growing religion.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Journeys to the Killing Fields

T. Christian Miller of the Los Angeles Times and Cam Simpson and Aamer Madhani of the Chicago Tribune had amazing stories this weekend tracing how laborers from impoverished countries are being hired by U.S. military contractors to do dangerous, poorly paid work in Iraq. Miller's "Poor Migrants Work in Iraqi Netherworld" and Simpson's and Madhani's two-part series, "Pipeline to Peril," are compelling, important stories.,1,110846.special?coll=chi-news-hed,0,5858350.story?track=tottext

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Lost in America

I've admired the work of Isabel Wilkerson of the The New York Times for a long time. Her story, "Scattered in a Storm's Wake and Caught in a Clash of Cultures," in this Sunday's Times did not disappoint. Wilkerson spent a month with several families who ended up in a Methodist camp in eastern Oklahoma after fleeing Hurricane Katrina. Using a wonderful narrative technique, she gives us a close-up view of their troubles finding new homes, work and lost relatives in what feels to them like an alien land. She also sensitively shares the viewpoints of the residents who tried to help them. The result is a portrait of America in a state of confusion.
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