Best of 2011: Alysia Santo

Santo picks her top CJR stories from the past year

Occupy Wall Street’s Media Team: I spent the day walking and talking with the bloggers, livestreamers, and tweeters in the early days of Occupy Wall Street. From the donated pizzas pouring into the park, to the internal communication systems (“mic check!”), Zuccotti Park was a collaboration of many, and fueled a conversation that spread around the world. I’m going to be totally clich├ęd and say I felt like I was a witness to history.

The Glass-Half-Full Beat: This story came out of my own feelings of exhaustion about the doomsday nature of the media. Though there’s oh-so-much bad news vying for our attention, both important and not, sometimes I go on the hunt for inspirational stories just to feel a little better about the world. This article was the manifestation of that desire.

From Commenter to Contributor: One of my morning routines is going through CJR’s comment boards and deleting the spam. Reading through it is a daily reminder that some people spend a lot of their time on our site, crafting responses to articles, and interacting/arguing with others who do the same. I was intrigued to learn that on some websites, commenters had drawn a following of their own, catching the eyes of editors, and being hired to write for the sites full time.

Borders’ Newsstand Blues: As a kid, whenever I got dragged along to the grocery store, I’d sit on the floor in the magazine aisle. Bookstore newsstands later showed me that there were more titles than I ever imagined. The news that Borders was on its way out prompted a host of reflections about the future of the book industry, but small magazine publishers were also concerned. This piece looks into their reliance on my fellow magazine rack drifters for getting their pages in front of those who might not otherwise know they exist.

After Irene: How a Hyperlocal Is Helping: Being an upstate New Yorker and knowing the depths of its rurality, I was especially enthralled by the work the Watershed Post did after Hurricane Irene. This home-based news outlet became the main source of information for many in the Catskills, not only for updates about power outages and closed roads, but also helping to coordinate relief efforts and reunite families.

Public Radio and the Freelance Journalist: There were quite a few reports of public radio journalists losing their jobs because of their participation in Occupy Wall Street, but Caitlin Curran was a particularly interesting case because of her status as a freelancer for PRI/WNYC’s morning radio show, The Takeaway. The ethical validity of limiting a reporter’s political participation becomes easier to question as employers increasingly commit less to their staff in the way of health benefits, pensions, and job security.

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Alysia Santo is a former assistant editor at CJR. Tags: , , , ,