Best of 2008: Katia Bachko

Bachko picks her top stories from 2008

1. Suicide Watch “Correlation doesn’t equal causation” is one of the most helpful ideas that journalists can borrow from the social sciences. A major event, like the current financial crisis, ends up being used as a news peg for every story under the sun, but often it can be a too-good-to-be true explanation for a much more complicated set of events.

2. Down With the Dial Of all the technological bells and whistles that the networks trotted out during the election, the debate night dial-meters were so frustratingly distracting and non-insightful that we felt it was
essential to explain why, and beg for them to disappear.

3. Tongue Tied on Religion CNN’s attempt to report on Sarah Palin’s religious affiliations revealed a well-known journalistic trough: reporting on religion is very hard, and this time CNN wasn’t up to the task.

4. The Palin Pile-On Sarah Palin vexed and captivated the press, so it wasn’t surprising that, after the election was over, the media would need to blow off some Palin steam. And while some former McCain staffers’ anonymous gripes about Palin fed the gossip mill, it wasn’t good journalism.

5. Charting a New Course The Christian Science Monitor’s decision to reinvent its daily print edition to a weekly sent ripples through the newspaper industry, because it was the first time a major paper shifted its resources so substantially toward the Web. We wanted to reflect on whether the Monitor’s plan was a one-size-fits-most solution for everyone else.

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Katia Bachko is on staff at The New Yorker.