American Journalism Review‘s former editor picks out its best pieces

Rem Rieder, the top editor of American Journalism Review for 22 years, highlights the publication’s “greatest hits.”

 

The Sad Saga of Gary Webb

The hard-charging investigative reporter’s career imploded in the wake of his much-criticized “Dark Alliance” series about the CIA and crack cocaine. But while Webb overreached, some key findings in “Dark Alliance” were on target–and important. Last December Webb committed suicide.  

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Santa Barbara Smackdown

A behind-the-scenes look at the turmoil that engulfed the Santa Barbara News-Press after owner Wendy McCaw and her top lieutenants flattened the wall separating the executive suite from the newsroom. 

 

An Ill Tailwind

A behind-the-scenes look at how CNN, despite red flags, aired—and was forced to retract—an explosive report on the military’s alleged use of poison gas. 

 

When the Watchdogs Don’t Bark

The story of Orange County’s imminent financial debacle was handed to the Orange County Register and the Los Angeles Times. But the rivals in one of the nation’s most bitter newspaper wars blew it. 

 

Capital Flight

Watchdog reporting is at an alarming low at many federal agencies and departments whose actions have a huge impact on the lives of American citizens. 

 

Retreating from the World

In the face of heightened globalization and with the US engaged in two wars, many mainstream news organizations have turned their backs on foreign news. Newspapers and television networks alike provide much less of it. Many outlets have shuttered overseas bureaus. But a handful of promising startups offer some hope for the future. 

 

The Bloomberg Juggernaut

While many news organizations are struggling and retreating, Bloomberg News keeps adding talented journalists, expanding its empire, and elevating its ambitions. 

 

Justice Delayed

Many in the media jettisoned caution—and the presumption of innocence—in their coverage of an alleged rape by Duke lacrosse players, and were too slow to correct the record as the case unraveled. But some journalists distinguished themselves with skeptical and incisive reporting. 

 

What the Mainstream Media Can Learn From Jon Stewart

No, not to be funny and snarky, but to be bold and to do a better job of cutting through the fog. 

 

Uncertain Times

The Los Angeles Times, bloodied by the Mark Willes era and the Staples Center fiasco, rebounded strongly after its parent company was acquired by Tribune Co. in 2000. Now a bruising year of staff cuts, newshole reductions, and content-sharing pressures has raised concerns about the future of the Times and other prestigious former Times Mirror properties. 

 

Challenging Times

Protected by family ownership, the New York Times Co. plots its future without retreating from ambitious journalism at its flagship paper, despite the wailing on Wall Street about the company’s sluggish financial performance. It’s bolstering its digital presence and unleashing its futurist-in-residence in a time of wrenching transformation in the industry. 

 

Essential Again

As the tragedy of Katrina unfolded, the battered mainstream media elevated their games, challenging inaccurate statements by public officials and providing crucial information to an audience that needed it desperately. 

 

The Reporter and the Hit Man

Len Jenoff told Nancy Phillips that he had arranged the murder of a rabbi’s wife—at the rabbi’s request. But the confession was off the record. What should she do? 

 

How They Blew It

A behind-the-scenes look at the television networks’ dismal performance on election night. 

 

Bitter Fruit

How the Cincinnati Enquirer‘s hard-hitting investigation of Chiquita Brands International unraveled. 

 

Take the Money and Talk

Debate simmers over celebrity journalists’ mammoth speaking fees. Time recently banned staffers from taking them. Critics assert they hurt credibility. But some who accept honoraria resent the assault on their free market rights. 

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Mike Hoyt was CJR’s executive editor from 2001 to 2013, teaches at Columbia’s Journalism School and is the editor of The Big Roundtable, a startup that is a home for narrative writing.