Shortreads & Longreads

Papers flying from laptop

YETBW realizes that sometimes it’s hard to find quality writing and reporting to read online. Below is a list of suggested articles, stories and reports that you should dive into when you are hankering to read some good online material . . . . besides this blog of course!

‘New’ additions (old and/or new pieces YETBW has discovered online) will appear at the top of the list. Older pieces will be categorized by the following subjects: Business and Technology, Culture and History, Education, Entertainment, and News and Journalism. Read, Learn and Enjoy.


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It’s A New Day At the WWE (The Undefeated – August 28, 2016) You don’t have to be a pro wrestling fan to find this piece interesting and informative. The article’s subtitle ‘WWE’s hottest act is black, and not afraid to say it — and wrestling’s racial history is terrible, and complex, and black fans love it’ sums up things exactly. The writer, Martenzie Johnson, takes you on a historical and racial journey regarding the WWE while regaling you about the emergence of ‘New Day’ a trio of smart and entertaining WWE black wrestlers.

My Four Months As A Private Prison Guard (MotherJones – July/August 2016) In Winter 2014, Mother Jones senior reporter Shane Bauer worked for four months, undercover, as a corrections officer at a Louisiana prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the country’s second largest private-prison company. Bauer doesn’t concentrate on what it’s like to be a prisoner, but more on his experiences and observations being a prison guard. It is a sad, yet enlightening read into the world of for-profit prisons.

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East of Palo Alto’s Eden: Race and the Formation of Silicon Valley (Techcrunch – January 10, 2015) This provocative and informative piece asks: What if Silicon Valley had emerged from a racially integrated community? Would the technology industry be different? Would we? And what can the technology industry do now to avoid repeating the mistakes in the past? Techcrunch’s reporters try to answer these questions by digging into the history of Palo Alto and East Palo Alto and its problems such as high housing costs, gentrification, racism, redlining to prevent certain elements and ethnicities from crossing the Silicon Valley borders and the economic challenges of the poorer residents of Palo Alto. It’s a deep history lesson on the Palo Alto community and Silicon Valley.

The Mayor vs. The Mogul: Michael Bloomberg’s $9 Billion Identity Crisis (Politico – June 18, 2015) Even if you don’t normally read business news this article about Former New York Mayor Bloomberg’s uneven return to Bloomberg LP, his multibillionaire business, is illuminating. The article discusses how he’s stumbled in trying to figure out his new role and how his employees seem to be confused about why he’s become so heavily involved at this point of his life.

The Untold Story of the Silk Road: Part 1 and Part II (Wired – May 2015) “In October 2013 the FBI arrested a young entrepreneur named Ross Ulbricht at the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library. It was the culmination of a two-year investigation into a vast online drug market called Silk Road. The authorities charged that Ulbricht, an idealistic 29-year-old Eagle Scout from Austin, Texas, was the kingpin of the operation. They said he’d reaped millions from the site, all transacted anonymously with Bitcoin. They said he’d devolved into a cold-blooded criminal, hiring hit men to take out those who crossed him.” Writer Joshuah Bearman spent over a year reporting on the Silk Road, Ulbricht and his billion-dollar illegal operation before the federal law enforcement stopped Silk Road in its tracks. The series reads like a crime thriller riddled with techies, wannabe hippies, cops, underworld criminals, senior citizens and farmers whose anti-capitalism stance via the Silk Road was, contradictory, a very profitable one.

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The Case for Reparations (The Atlantic – June 2014)  Columnist Ta-Nehisi Coates presents a ten-part, heartbreaking magnum opus of an essay about why African-Americans should receive reparations from the United States. Coates argument is not based on slavery (which he doesn’t discuss as much given the article’s title) nor on how much money is ‘owed’ to Black Americans (which isn’t mentioned) but the long, cumulative effect of discrimination on generations of African-Americans. The article makes it case by interweaving the generational story of African-Americans and the obstacles they’ve faced (white supremacy, inequality, governmental discrimination) by way of Clyde Ross, a sharecropper’s son who escaped the Jim Crow South who ended up in Chicago fighting for black homeowners. Coates 15,000 word piece is dense in that you might find yourself having to revisit it after the first read, because there is so much interesting information, history and emotion in the piece. Whether you’re an opponent or proponent of reparations this article will give you a better and more complete understanding of the reparations argument.

Fatal Distraction: Forgetting A Child in the Backseat of a Car Is A Horrifying Mistake. Is It A Crime (Washington Post – March 8, 2009)  Gene Weingarten deservedly won a Pulitzer-Prize for this piece because he doesn’t prejudge. He lets the story take care of itself; allowing readers to draw their own conclusions. How he was able to get these parents to publicly open up about the worse day in their lives is truly amazing. This story has continued to stay with me – not because I’m a parent but because it’s some damn good journalism.

Til Death Do Us Part (Post & Courier – August 2014) – Charleston, South Carolina’s Post & Courier won a 2015 Pulitzer Prize Public Service Award for its “riveting series that probed why the state is among the deadliest states in the union for women and put the issue of what to do about it on the state’s agenda.” The seven-part series starts off with this powerful opener “[m]ore than 300 women were shot, stabbed, strangled, beaten, bludgeoned or burned to death over the past decade by men in South Carolina, dying at a rate of one every 12 days while the state does little to stem the carnage from domestic abuse” and builds upon this information with interviews with those who have suffered the abuse, their families, their advocates, the police and judges. It is a series that is a definite must read and very deserving of its prize for journalism excellence.

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Failure Factories (Tampa Bay Times – August through December 2015) The Columbia Journalism Review describes ‘Failure Factories’ as an “ongoing series on five underperforming elementary schools tells a story that national media is less likely to cover. Part one dissects how the local school board’s dysfunctional management has perpetuated systemic racism and turned these schools into academic embarrassments. Subsequent installments analyzed violence, teaching, and discipline at the institutions, among other angles. The project, framed with slick visuals and interactive graphics, is stunning in its totality. The work provides yet more proof of the continued value of beat reporting in an era of cutbacks at local news organizations.”

Why Poor Schools Can’t Win At Standardized Testing (The Atlantic – July 15, 2014) It’s kind of disquieting to read that students could probably do better on standardized tests if only their school districts could afford the textbooks (which are published by the companies that draft the standardized tests) that contain many of the answers. Author Melissa Broussard, a data-journalism professor, writes about the problems with standardized tests via an overwhelmed and underfunded Philadelphia school district

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Mickey Rourke For A Day (Movieline – December 1, 1992) This is one of the funniest pieces I have ever read. Before entertainment magazines became beholden (again) to actors, actresses, publicists and movie studios ‘Movieline’ Magazine (deceased for several years) was there to put them in there place. No one did a better job of it than their in-house writer Joe Queenan who believed there was no such thing as sacred cows. His homage cum hilarious ridicule of Mickey Rourke (“Like most American males, my single most cherished fantasy has long been to spend an entire day in the shoes, in the skin, nay, in the psyche of Mickey Rourke”) is a must read because you won’t see anything else like it anywhere, which is truly a shame.

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September 11: The Falling Man (Esquire Magazine – September 2003) The beginning of this piece by Tom Jonod sets the tone for one of the most famous 9/11 images: “In the picture, he departs from this earth like an arrow. Although he has not chosen his fate, he appears to have, in his last instants of life, embraced it. If he were not falling, he might very well be flying. He appears relaxed, hurtling through the air. He appears comfortable in the grip of unimaginable motion. He does not appear intimidated by gravity’s divine suction or by what awaits him.” Jonod’s piece tells the story of the photographer who had taken the picture and of the man who leaped to his death from the burning World Trade Center Towers on 9/11. It’s also the story of an image that was printed everywhere the day after 9/11 and then basically disappeared from American newspapers because it was just too painful and too real for too many people.

Why Are There No Staff Black Cartoonists At A Time When We Need Them Most? (Washington Post – December 29, 2015) Illuminating article about why Black cartoonists “need to be a prominent part of our ongoing national conversation” yet most editors (i.e. newspapers, books, graphic novels, etc.) don’t seem to recognize the need for these voices. You’ll hear from black cartoonists (known and those under the radar) about their work and what they’re doing to increase the presence of of current and future black cartoonists across all mediums.

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