Friday, December 02, 2005

A Mother's Touch

Get out your tissues for this story because you'll need them to dry your eyes after reading this heart-warming story by Chase Davis of the Boston Globe. In "Mother Fills the Role of her Late Daughter," Davis tells of Michelle Murphy, a 46-year-old mom who volunteered to manage a boys' soccer team in place of her daughter, who died in a car crash in October. Davis' simple, evocative writing brings out powerful emotions of love, grief and loyalty.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Eating Struggles

As someone who adores eating food of every sort, I've always had a hard time understanding anorexia. But Peg Tyre set me straight with her latest story in Newsweek. In "Fighting Anorexia: No One to Blame," she thoroughly and clearly explains how new research shows that the disease is probably hard-wired. She debunks the stereotype that anorexia only strikes teen girls from stressed-out, over-achieving white families, and shows how it can hurt younger children, boys, middle-aged adults and people from all racial and economic backgrounds. By expertly mixing research, expert advice, and the stories of families who have struggled with anorexia, she succeeds in enlightening me about this disease that affects 2.5 million Americans and has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Old Neighborhood

Writing a compelling, nuanced profile can be tough to do. Writing a powerful profile of an entire block is an even greater accomplishment, which is what Rick Hampson of USA Today has managed to do. His "On Diverse Banks Street Sit the Pieces of Many Lives" tells the story of a street in New Orleans whose residents have scattered since Hurricane Katrina. In an impressive reporting feat, Hampson tracked them down from Memphis to Minneapolis and back to New Orleans to capture what has happened to their lives. By giving us a snapshot of what Katrina meant to one block, he tells a bigger story about what happened to the whole city.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Medical Moolah

The rising price of medical supplies is one reason consumer health care costs are soaring. In "Hijacking at the Hospital," Pablo Lastra of the Fort Worth Weekly explores the hidden power of Novation, a North Texas firm that is the nation's biggest broker of hospital and medical supplies. In rich detail, Lastra explains how the practices of Novation, which is the subject of several lawsuits and a congressional investigation, and other group purchasing organizations like it have a huge impact on hospital costs. Lastra's story is a good example of an important investigation done by a small paper.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Best in the Business

The New York Times proved once again Sunday why it remains this country's premier news outlet. Despite its highly publicized mistakes, the Times still out classes all competition. Among the gems on Sunday's front page were Pete Thamel's and Duff Wilson's great investigation, "Poor Grades Aside, Top Athletes Get to College on $399 Diploma,"
and Riva D. Atlas' and Mary Williams Walsh's well-reported and disturbing "Pension Officers Putting Billions into Hedge Funds."
The Op-Ed page features Nicholas D. Kristof's "A Tolerable Genocide." I don't normally highlight the work of columnists because I am more interested in original reporting, but Kristof deserves a second Pulitzer for his brave and compelling work from Darfur.
Finally, there's Barry Bearak's monumental "The Day the Sea Came" in the magazine section,, which gives an incredible minute-by-minute account of how last December's tsunami destroyed the Indonesian province of Aceh. I'm still reading it, but I'm confident that it's a story people will be pointing to for years. I don't personally know any of these reporters or their editors, but I am grateful for their work.

Breaking the Silence

Suicide is a topic that journalists rarely tackle because so many people are reluctant to talk openly about it. But in the gutsy series "Ending it All," Randy Richmond of The London Free Press exposes an epidemic that kills the equivalent of a jumbo jet crash every month in Canada. The series looks at why Canada has such a high suicide rate and what can be done about it. It includes a profile of two women struggling to survive their sister's suicide and a gripping narrative of two police officers trying to stop a man from jumping off a bridge.
My thanks to Brian Summers for sharing this series with me.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Behind the Scenes

When President Bush visited China last weekend, Evan Osnos of the Chicago Tribune looked beyond the official pomp to report what was really going on behind the scenes. In "How China Silenced Dissenters," Osnos gives many examples of how the Chinese government detained or otherwise silenced its leading critics while it feted Bush. I am impressed with Osnos' tenacity in finding these dissenting sources who the Chinese government did not want him to meet.,1,7229619.story?coll=chi-news-hed
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