Friday, March 03, 2006

Journey Inside A Brain

Science and medical stories often make my eyes glaze over. But not "Probing a Mind for a Cure" by Stacey Burling of the Philadelphia Inquirer. It's a compelling, moving look at how the human brain works, and sometimes doesn't work. Burling follows neuropathologist Mark Forman as he autopsies the brain of Bob Moore, a Presbyterian minister who had suffered from dementia. Burling skillfully intersperses the scientific journey of the autopsy with Moore's life journey. She makes us care deeply about Moore and his family, and draws us into wanting to solve the mystery of why his mind deteriorated. At the end of the story, she reveals the answer.
My thanks to reader and friend Jeff Kelly Lowenstein for this tip.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Spying Snafus

In January, I highlighted a great investigative story Siobhan Gorman of the Baltimore Sun wrote about a $1.2 billion National Security Agency technology program-- designed to protect us from terrorists -- that doesn't work. This Sunday Gorman was at it again with "Computer Ills Hinder NSA," which detail how two more expensive programs at the agency don't work well. What impresses me about Gorman's reporting is how she has developed sources willing to talk about these problems of grave public importance at the secretive NSA.,0,6311175.story?coll=bal-home-headlines

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Boy's Story

Today the Boston Globe ran the last story in Kevin Cullen's remarkable series, "Rakan's War." Cullen's series follows Rakan, a 12-year-old Iraqi boy whose parents were accidentally killed by U.S. soldiers and whose spine was pierced by an American bullet. Cullen tells us about Rakan's stay in an Iraqi hospital, his rehabilitation in Boston and his journey back home to Iraq. He writes beautifully about the soldiers who worked to rescue him, the doctors and nurses who cared for him, and the donors who generously paid for his recovery. But mostly he writes about one little boy's determination when faced with the sadness of war. Michele McDonald's and Chris Hondros' photos provide their own compelling narrative.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fat Tuesday

Six month's ago I spotlighted the New Orleans Times-Picayune's brave coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Now it's time to pay homage to its coverage of the good times as well. In addition to stories such as Steve Ritea's "City's Mardi Gras Spirit Shines On," the newspaper's Web site has done a great job of using photos and videos to capture the full flavor of the city's annual Carnival. I also like how is encouraging readers to post their own photos and stories of the festivities in the same way it has done during the hurricane's aftermath.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Drug War Home Front

Claudia Rowe of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer goes beyond the usual police reports, studies and statistics to show us how the crackdown on drug dealers can affect their families. In "Caught in the Net of a Drug Raid," she tells the story of Jessica Carothers, a young mother who is arrested on charges that she helped her boyfriend sell methamphetamine. Using a dramatic narrative style, Rowe describes Carothers' courtroom battle to clear her name. I like how Rowe personalizes the results of a national study that looks at the impact of drug laws on women and children.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

He shoots, he scores ... and scores ... and scores ...

Time for a feel-good story. Ben Dobbin of the Associated Press found this gem of a tale at the local high school in Greece, New York. In "Autistic Team Manager Scores 20 in Four Minutes," he describes how Jason McElwain got his chance in the big final home basketball game after sitting on the bench all season long. Credit goes to Dobbin for recognizing the great human drama in McElwain's big moment.
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