Ten works of journalism – ranging from the New York Times’ response to September 11, to a book based on a 12-year study of the families of a couple of drug dealers, to a radio program explaining the financial collapse – have been named the decade’s top works of journalism in the United States by New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and a panel of distinguished judges.
The top five selections were (in order): the New York Times’ “A Nation Challenged” section published daily after September 11, 2001; Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx (Scribner, 2003); Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (Knopf, 2006); “The Giant Pool of Money,” a 2008 radio documentary by correspondents Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson and a co-production of This American Life (Chicago Public Radio/Public Radio International) and NPR; and, the ongoing reporting from the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan by New York Times’ reporters C.J. Chivers and Dexter Filkins and photographer Tyler Hicks.
“This list demonstrates the many forms in which great journalism can present itself – from breaking-news stories and investigations to long explanatory works, from newspaper articles to broadcasts to books,” noted Mitchell Stephens, a professor at the Carter Journalism Institute. “The top two works include a remarkable effort by a major news organization on what may have been the largest news story of our time and the superb work over a dozen years of a lone journalist, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, to bring us closer to a small story with very large implications.”
The winners, selected from 80 nominees, were determined by a panel of judges including the institute’s faculty as well as others in the journalism profession, including: Wall Street Journal editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz; Morley Safer of “60 Minutes”; and Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter Leon Dash, a professor of journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Finishing sixth was Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, (Doubleday, 2008), followed by: Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, (Metropolitan, 2001); the Times-Picayune staff for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina (August-December 2005); “Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration at Army’s Top Medical Facility” by Washington Post reporters Anne Hull and Dana Priest and photographer Michel du Cille (February 2007); and, the Boston Globe Spotlight Team, under the direction of Walter Robinson, for its 2002 series, “Abuse in the Catholic Church.”
The winners are listed here.
“The major news events of a difficult decade in the United States are well-represented in the Top Ten: September 11, the Iraq War and the way it was prosecuted by the Bush administration, Hurricane Katrina, and the economic crisis,” Stephens added. “This list supports the conclusion that journalism—at its best—lived up to its challenges in the past 10 years.”
Nominees were selected from nonfiction work on current events that appeared from January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2009.
In 2000, NYU’s journalism program selected the Top 100 U.S. Works of Journalism of the 20th Century. Heading that list were John Hersey’s Hiroshima, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, and Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s Watergate investigations. That list may be found here.
The outside panel of judges included: Gene Roberts, former managing editor at the New York Times and former executive editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer; Madeleine Blais, a journalism professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Wall Street Journal editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz; Morley Safer of “60 Minutes”; author Ben Yagoda, who teaches at the University of Delaware; Eric Newton, vice president of the journalism program for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter Leon Dash, a professor of journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Juan Williams of National Public Radio and the Fox News Channel; Sylvia Nasar, a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and author of A Beautiful Mind; and cultural critic Greil Marcus.
For more on the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, please click here.