Don’t believe them.
Journalism is not in its death throes.
Every week I scour the interwebs for the best journalism. I dig up interesting, thought-provoking long-form pieces, human-interest features, science and technology news and yes, even listicles that provide more depth than just linkbait. I don’t do cute cat memes, though I admit a soft spot for Grumpy Cat. My delightful distraction instead? Ancient cartography. And insects.
I’ve made it my mission to locate quirky, intriguing, well-told stories, both to stay informed and to improve my own writing. Expect this list every Saturday.
Without further ado, here are my picks this week.
1. Five Ways to Eat Seaweed | Smithsonian Magazine — In a fit of nostalgia for the year I lived in Japan, I’ve dabbled lately in Japanese cookery and discovered the joy of edible seaweed. This article inspires me to eat more seaweed.
2. The Case of the Closely Watched Courtesans | Slate Magazine — The best crime novel does not get better than this slice of real life history. It would seem the French police obsessively tracked the kept women of the 18th century. This is brilliant.
3. Can It Be? Parrots Name Their Children, and Those Names, Like Ours, Stick for Life | NPR — There are a couple of reasons why I enjoyed this story. I have a pet lovebird and I’m intrigued by brain science. More than those, the writing style captured my attention. The author introduced this piece with a first-person anecdote, throwing several idioms into the fray, and it just works. Besides, you can’t go wrong with an awfully cute video.
4. The Dark and Dangerous World of Extreme Cavers | The New Yorker — You will immediately find yourself riveted by this captivating tale of a world that few of us have experienced. Burkhard Bilger crafts his prose in an excellent build-up of drama and tension, sprinkling details in all the right places.
5. Your Road Trip, Reimagined as a Glorious 16th Century Map | The Atlantic Cities — For some people, cat videos are the epitome of the Internet. The more power to them. My version of cat videos? I love maps. Ancient maps? Even better. The ironic part is, I’m famous for my stubborn lack of a sense of direction. I love maps because they change throughout history while revealing the art of place. Artist Connie Brown has created a truly wonderful project.
6. General Mills Legal Policy Change Spooks Fans | Mashable — As an online community manager, this news immediately sparked my interest. It’s more than a PR disaster; talk about inspiring total shutdown of participation in online communities. The lesson I took away from this? It’s difficult to quantify policies that encourage freedom of speech and transparency, but they are absolutely imperative. This is not the earned media you want.
7. Kombucha and the Booze-Free Kegger | Outside Magazine — Fermentation is extremely trendy, and as a reluctantly described foodie I follow food crazes like this with interest. I’m definitely a kombucha virgin, but this article makes me want to check out these parties.
8. Welcome to Ground Zero — Literally — for Sea Level Rise in North America | TakePart — I am immediately drawn into the breathtaking, intimate urgency of this piece, which does an incredible job of bringing climate change stats and harrowing predictions into the realm of the personal. The opening scene takes you to the alligator sauce piquante and proud provincialism of the Bayou. It’s a portrait of the Wild Game Supper and how climate change has impacted the people who participate in this cultural tradition.
9. How Capital Letters Became Internet Code for Yelling | The New Republic — A short piece, but timely and culturally interesting. ALSO, BE NICE.
10. Station to Station: The Past, Present, and Future of Streaming Music | Pitchfork — Because, Record Store Day. And it uses multimedia in cool ways.