There’s a lot to be said about the media in 2016, but regardless of what anyone thinks about journalists, there’s no denying their power in storytelling. Journalists this year have covered elections, terrorist attacks, the Olympics, the deaths of legends like Muhammad Ali and Prince, the Brexit, the destruction and terror in Aleppo, the protests at Standing Rock and more. The monumental task of covering these key events has shown integrity, determination and a commitment to storytelling. Many of these stories could not be told through an article or photo alone while others only needed a few words or an image to be influential. Here are only some of those moments in journalism from 2016 that were incredibly powerful:
Teen Vogue’s “Donald Trump is Gaslighting America”
Teen Vogue released a scathing article in December in which writer Lauren Duca criticizes President-elect Donald Trump for his countless lies and mission to undermine the press and the American people. Duca writes,
“To gas light is to psychologically manipulate a person to the point where they question their own sanity, and that’s precisely what Trump is doing to this country. He gained traction in the election by swearing off the lies of politicians, while constantly contradicting himself, often without bothering to conceal the conflicts within his own sound bites. He lied to us over and over again, then took all accusations of his falsehoods and spun them into evidence of bias.”
Duca’s op-ed was received with some skepticism and criticism. The Washington Post writes that critics began “feeding off the stereotype that the magazine’s pages are too full of makeup tips and celebrity gossip to have room for serious and thoughtful political commentary.” Nonetheless, as the Washington Post piece writes, Teen Vogue is known for far more than covering fashion and celebrities—they’re content is rich in current events, issues surrounding bodies, such as coverage on birth control and mental health, police brutality and more. Duca’s editorial continued to highlight the complex interests of young women, while acknowledging that teen girls have the capacity to care both about celebrity news and politics.
“My President Was Black”
Continuing on the political coverage, Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between the World and Me, and national correspondent for The Atlantic, wrote your long-read of the year entitled, “My President was Black.” If you weren’t already feeling nostalgic about President Obama’s place in the White House, you sure will be after reading Coates’s heartfelt, honest and comprehensive piece on Barack Obama’s history before and throughout his presidency. Coates’s article is written similar to his book, making it both engaging and explorative. If you’re still trying to make sense of what comes next after Obama’s presidency, Coates gives you a lot to think about.
The Orlando Sentinel’s coverage of the Pulse nightclub shooting
Poytner has already pointed out the hard work of the Orland Sentinel here, but here are some highlights: In the face of immense tragedy, the newspaper leapt into action, despite a deeply minimized staff. Grappling with horror and grief, journalists went to work arriving on the scene, at vigils, and hospitals. Poytner quotes one journalist who was only on her 5th day back in the newsroom when tragedy struck. Swallowing down emotion, she reminded herself of the importance of telling this story. Poytner quotes her,
“’This isn’t about us or how tired we are. It’s about what it’s done to the victims, and the impact it’s going to have on our city,’ [Janet Brindle Reddick] said. ‘This will forever be tied to Orlando and, unfortunately, those families will have to live with this forever.’”
The New York Times’s interactive coverage of violence in the Philippines
An article alone couldn’t tell the gruesome story of how the Filipino government is campaigning against drug users. As the government targets and kills drug users and dealers on the streets, The New York Times sought to put a face to this violent campaign. Their interactive graphic piece includes photos and videos of the men and women who have been murdered by the police, accompanied by text on their lives and families. The photographer and journalist Daniel Berehulak describes meeting with distraught widows and children, coming up to the bodies of those gunned down and riding along with the police on their stings. The jarring coverage brings home the violence occurring in the Philippines and urges readers to be aware of the horrifying nature of the killings.
The assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey: caught on camera
Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici captured this haunting image (warning: graphic) of the seconds after Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey G. Karlov, was gunned down by an assassin. In the image, the assassin in seen in a simple black suit, with his gun lowered in one hand and his other arm thrown above his head. To his side, Karlov lies on the ground. Ozbilic’s photo not only captured the terrifying moment as others in the room ran for cover, but also showed his determination of a journalist to capture the story—which he did, in a single image.
Mother Jones’s investigative reporting of a private prison
Journalist Shane Bauer went undercover for several months and took a job as a corrections officer (CO) in a private prison in Louisiana. His writings on his experience will floor you. Not only does Bauer detail his experiences, he also gives the reader insight into the private prison experience as well as his own struggles while juggling the role of a CO and being an undercover journalist. Bauer’s experience includes mistreatment by guards, corners cut in the name of money for the prison, the personal lives of inmates and more. It’s a long-read, but every word is worth it.
Photo Credit: Cover