As 2012 draws to a close, CJR writers brainstormed the year’s best reads in their beats.

18 Tigers, 17 Lions, 8 Bears, 3 Cougars, 2 Wolves, 1 Baboon, 1 Macaque, and 1 Man Dead in Ohio,” by Chris Heath, from GQ, March 2012

The Innocent Man,” by Pamela Colloff, from Texas Monthly, November 2012

Joe Arridy was the happiest man on death row,” by Alan Prendergast, from Westword, September 20, 2012

Cocaine Incorporated,” by Patrick Radden Keefe, from The New York Times Magazine, June 15, 2012

Imaginary Monsters Chased Jonny Holden All His Life, Then a Real One Caught Him,” by Brantley Hargrove, from the Dallas Observer, September 27, 2012

The NYPD Tapes Confirmed,” by Graham Rayman, from The Village Voice, March 7, 2012

When Thugs and Hustlers Ruled Dark Alleys,” by Gianmarc Manzione, from The New York Times, November 8, 2012

Adam Wheeler Went to Harvard,” by Jim Newell, from The Baffler, No. 20

Throwaway People,” by Liliana Segura, from The Nation, May 28, 2012

17 Days in November,” by Wright Thompson, from ESPN.com, September 10, 2012

The Truce on Drugs,” by Benjamin Wallace-Wells, from New York, November 25, 2012

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Justin Peters is editor-at-large of the Columbia Journalism Review.