Best of 2011: Erika Fry

From Romenesko to rich men, Fry picks her top CJR stories from the past year

Escape from Thailand This was my personal account of fleeing Thailand in 2010—yes, that tropical paradise known as the Land of Smiles—after being jailed and charged with defamation for writing about a Thai government official who plagiarized a dissertation on organic asparagus. Crazy, but true.

The Romenesko Saga: I sure stirred up a media shitstorm! And got around to writing about it a day and a half later. In case you missed my story the first time. (Hint: it was never supposed to be about Romenesko!)

Plagiarism for Profit: This seems to me far more worthy of a shitstorm, but this story about Reader, a California coupon magazine that plagiarized, um, everything, didn’t get much attention at the time. But it did reach the people that matter most—Reader appears to be reforming its ways, and Poynter’s Craig Silverman named this co-plagiarism incident of the year.(!)

Straw Dogs (about the press and the inane straw poll) and Don’t Have a Cow, Iowa (with a bonus clip from The Music Man); I haven’t been to all ninety-nine Iowa counties. But, for a brief period in my grade school years, I could recite them all. This was not a school-sanctioned activity, but something I actually did for fun. I love my home state, I really do, and so I like to write about it.

Money Talks: This piece was a useful if tedious and unsurprising exercise I undertook after reading an op-ed written by rich man Harvey Golub in response to an op-ed written by rich man Warren Buffett. Where are the opinions of the non-rich men, I wondered? Not in the pages of the The New York Times and TheWall Street Journal, I learned after tallying thirty days worth of op-ed bylines from the two papers. Read the piece to see who does make the op-ed pages.

Obama’s Twitter Townhall: I’m not much of a tweeter, but I do sit and watch Twitter for a large part of the day, most days. It invariably leaves me feeling anxious, disgusted, and yet mesmerized. In July, the White House tapped all these feelings and then some when President Obama hosted his first-ever Twitter town hall. Press releases made earnest use of words like “tweetup” and our Commander-in-Chief punched out a 140-character communiqué to all his “tweeps” out there. It struck me as silly and undignified and awfully good for Twitter. For democracy? I’m not so sure.

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Erika Fry is a former assistant editor at CJR. Tags: , , , ,