CJR’s most-read stories of 2017

If 2017 was an amazing year for journalism, it was an equally momentous year for CJR, which reached more people than ever. What follows is a list of our most-read stories, covering everything from Twitter and Charlottesville to a wish list for press coverage of the president.

ICYMI: Explosive BuzzFeed scoop raises eyebrows


  1. A nationwide reporting adventure tracks improbably frequent lottery winners

If you love playing the lottery, we have some intriguing news for you: We analyzed 11 million lottery records from 36 of the nation’s 45 lotteries. “In the past seven years, nearly 1,700 Americans were frequent winners—which we defined as having claimed 50 or more lottery tickets each worth $600 or more.” This project not only shed light on the lotto industry, but it also revealed challenges in navigating public records laws and the need to improve them in many states.


  1. The secret cost of pivoting to video

Heidi Moore argues that news outlets are foolish to think producing milquetoast videos will lead to profitability. “Publishers who pivoted to video have forfeited the majority of their hard-won native audiences in only a year of churning out undifferentiated, bland chunks of largely aggregated ‘snackable’ video,” Moore writes. She goes on to identify four reasons the trend has failed, and how publishers can better embrace video: “Good video can communicate in ways that text and pictures along can’t. Video has a bright future in digital journalism.”

Sign up for CJR's daily email



  1. The Jared bubble

CJR Editor and Publisher Kyle Pope dishes on what it was like serving as the editor of the New York Observer under publisher Jared Kushner in a piece that appeared in our Fall issue. Apparently Trump’s son-in-law wasn’t too excited about being in the news business. “[He] almost never showed any interest in what tended, at the time, to be the hottest and most pressing issues of the day,” Pope writes. There is also a great story about Pope’s encounter with Donald Trump that’s worth a read.


  1. Photographer behind graphic Charlottesville image recounts near-death experience

On his final day as a staff photographer at The Daily Progress, Ryan Kelly went to a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. He was photographing the widespread violence at the white nationalist “Unite the Right” event when he took a picture The Washington Post called the “photo from Charlottesville that will define this moment in American history.” He captured the image of the silver Dodge Challenger crashing into a crowd of protesters that appeared on the cover of many newspapers. “This experience has been bittersweet, and it is way more bitter than sweet,” Kelly says.


  1. 11 images that show how the Trump administration is failing at photography

Visual analyst Michael Shaw observes that images coming from official Trump administration channels are often lackluster. Imagery from The White House “is an essential vehicle for informing, illustrating, and storytelling.” However, images like Kellyanne Conway’s sitting on a coach photographing black college and university officials and an amateur-looking cellphone shot of White House staff giving Trump a hero’s welcome “convey a sense of distraction and amateurism.”


  1. Study: Breitbart-led right-wing media ecosystem altered broader media agenda

We published a study showing asymmetrical political polarization in online news consumption ahead of the 2016 election. Scholars at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, at Harvard Law School, and the MIT Center for Civic Media, found that Hillary Clinton supporters shared stories from a broad political spectrum. However, “pro-Trump audiences paid the majority of their attention to polarized outlets that have developed recently, many of them only since the 2008 election season.”


  1. Fighting ‘the Gawker effect’ in the wake of Weinstein

It was the story The New York Times, BuzzFeed News, and more didn’t want to publish. Journalist Kim Masters details her difficulty finding a news outlet to publish a story on sexual harassment allegations against Amazon Studios head Roy Price. In the wake of Hulk Hogan’s successful lawsuit against Gawker, “we seem to be at a point when the wealthy feel emboldened to try to silence reporters by threatening litigation even if they stand virtually no chance of winning,” Masters writes. Eventually she was able to get her expose published by The Information.


  1. With teamwork and hustle, Toledo Blade dominated after Charlottesville attack

Tommy Gallagher, a copy editor at The Blade in Toledo, Ohio, was looking at early Charlottesville images. While doing so, he made a big realization: not only did the vehicle that drove through the crowd in Virginia have an Ohio license plate, but the registration tag bore the number “48.” Gallagher discovered “it was registered in Lucas County, where Toledo is the county seat,” writes Detroit-based journalist Anna Clark. The piece discusses how the paper mobilized and landed a much-cited interview with the driver’s mother.


  1. Trump berated a CNN reporter, and fellow journalists missed an opportunity

During his first press conference after Election Day, President-elect Trump refused to take a question from CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta. As the reporter pleaded for the chance to ask a question, Trump said, “No! Not you. No! Your organization is terrible.” It was a notable moment not only because of the interaction, but also because no other journalist jumped to Acosta’s defense, writes CJR staff writer Pete Vernon. “The press needs to be ready to work together to ensure that reporters are provided the access and information necessary to accurately and honestly cover the new administration.”


  1. An open letter to Trump from the US press corps

Pope, CJR’s editor, began this year with an open letter to President Donald Trump on behalf of the American press corps. After laying out many of Trump’s attacks against the press on the campaign trail, Pope makes eight points about what the president can expect in the future. He says the press will work together, obsess over the details of government, and establish ground rules.

ICYMI: Worst headlines bloopers of 2017

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Justin Ray is an audience editor at the Los Angeles Times. Follow him on Twitter @jray05.

TOP IMAGE: Image: Sam Howzit/flickr