Friday, April 14, 2006

Stopping the Tanks

In 1989 a single man stood before a column of tanks, trying to stop the Chinese army's bloody repression of dissidents in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. The image of his brave defiance against tyranny inspired people fighting for freedom across the globe. Filmmaker Antony Thomas went to China to find out what happened to this hero. His documentary "Tank Man," shown on PBS' Frontline this week, tells an extraordinary tale of one man's courage and impact on the world, of China's economic boom but enduring political repression since the 1989 uprising, and of the complicity of some American corporations in helping the Chinese government continue its brutal censorship of dissent.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Fishy Story

I'll never look at my sashimi in quite the same way again. Monica Eng, Delroy Alexander and David Jackson of the Chicago Tribune revealed today that much of the sushi sold in the U.S. is supplied through businesses controlled by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his controversial Unification Church. "Sushi and Rev. Moon" details how the self-proclaimed messiah and his disciples, sometimes called "moonies," built a business empire that dominates sushi production from the boats that catch the fish through the distributors who ship it to the restaurants that sell it. This story comes with delicious graphics by Van Tsui and Phil Geib.,1,6131847.htmlstory?coll=chi-news-hed

The Tribune gave us another winner last week. "This is no Pitcher, This is an Altruist" by Lucinda Hahn shares the story of Ryan Devlin, who gave up the chance to see his beloved White Sox play in the World Series last fall for something more important. Thanks to Matt Presser for pointing this story out to me.,1,5224497.story

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Secrets for Sale

The Los Angeles Times has had a couple of great stories so far this week. While most newspapers have abandoned first-hand coverage of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the Times' Paul Watson came up with an important scoop. In Tuesday's "U.S. Military Secrets for Sale at Afghan Bazaar," he details how he found merchants near the U.S. military base in Bagram selling stolen computer drives containing descriptions of U.S. defenses, classified American military assessments of enemy targets, and the names of suspected militants and corrupt Afghan officials.,0,7789909.story?track=tottext
In today's Times, Robert Lee Hotz takes a fascinating look at scientists who are trying to figure out how evolution can explain the great diversity in human brains. "Brain's Darwin Machine" tells a fun scientific detective story while sharing interesting insights into how our personalities develop. Hotz's story is part of an ongoing "Mapping the Mind" series that the Times has been running.,0,7081426.story?track=tottext

Monday, April 10, 2006

Nest Eggs

Newsday has been running a series this week by Tami Luhby and Randi F. Marshall that takes a hard look at the future of pensions. "The Pension Divide" analyzes data to compare what is happening to private pension plans versus those in the public sector. Luhby and Marshall (no relation to me) also look at the impact that generous government pension plans are having on taxes. To humanize the numbers, they share the stories of workers and retirees who are trying to make ends meet under both kinds of pension plans.,0,6337218.story?coll=ny-top-headlines

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Calling All Hands

In the last few days, deadly tornadoes and other severe storms have tested the mettle of newsrooms in several states. I am especially impressed with the coverage of the Nashville Tennessean. The paper and its Web site are providing powerful photos and stories such as this comprehensive update by Michael Cass and Bonna de la Cruz. Also of note is "Man Lost All that Counted: His Mom" by Anne Paine, Natalia Mielczarek and Lee Ann O'Neal. These reporters and others writing about the storms deserve credit for coming through during trying circumstances.

Healing through the Lens

Bonnie Rochman of the Raleigh News & Observer tells the remarkable story in today's paper of Debbie Horwitz, a 32-year-old woman who decided to let a photographer document her struggle to recover from a a double mastectomy. "Cancer Patient Lets Photos tell Story" describes how Horwitz worked with photographer Missy McLamb to share her experiences of loss and renewal with other cancer patients. Rochman uses a narrative style that is simple on the surface yet deep with details.
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