Nominations for

The Top 100 Works of Journalism in the United States in the 20th Century.

Mitchell Stephens

____1902-1903 Alexander Posey. Series of letters from "Fus Fixico" that appeared in the Indian Journal of the old Indian Territory. Fabulous satire of current events. Called for the end of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. (Mark N. Trahant)

____1902-1904 (series first published in McClure’s magazine, book published in 1904) Lincoln Steffens. "Shame of the Cities." Enough said. (Todd Gitlin) The origins of today’s muckracking, and the shaming effects of investigative reporting, are found here. (Jay Rosen) Sets the forms and aims of modern urban reporting and investigative reporting for two generations. A muckraking classic. (Anne Matthews) Classic--the classic--muckraking. Crucial in calling attention to municipal corruption. Led to reforms in some cities. Not enough, argued Steffens. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1902-1904 (book 1904) Ida Tarbell. "History of Standard Oil" investigation. Also in McClure’s magazine. Documented ruthless monopolistic practices. Contributed to successful effort to break up Rockefeller oil monopoly. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1903 W.E.B. DuBois. "The Souls of Black Folk." The precursor to Baldwin and even to "The Autobiography of Malcolm X." Seems to me part of an on-going colloquy about the very nature of racism and its evil manifestations. Heartachingly measured, but has an integrity and on-going freshness that makes it as important today as when it was published. (Madeleine Blais)

____1914 Walter Lippmann. Early essays for the New Republic. Extraordinarily symmetric prose and an extraordinarily clear mind (Leaner in his youth?): "Every sane person knows that it is a greater thing to build a city than to bombard it, to plough a field than to trample it, to serve mankind than to conquer it. And yet once the armies get loose, the terrific noise and shock of war make all that was valuable seem pale and dull and sentimental." (Mitchell Stephens)

____1914 Richard Harding Davis. Coverage of German march into Belgium. Several versions of this account appeared in daily newspapers, magazines, books, etc. The Collier’s version is wonderful. All are vivid and put the reader on the scene. "Like a river of steel, it flowed," Davis said of the army. (Gene Roberts) An aging reporter who’d cheapened his craft for a decade with thumbsucking pieces and parlor-car-window dispatches has a last flash of brilliance: in the right place at the right time, he conveys the texture of a strange new concept--world war--through pure description: journalism as the first rough draft of history, indeed. (Anne Matthews) A bit of derring-do (after an attempt to get through German lines Davis was arrested as a spy) from the archetype of the romantic war correspondent and one of our best reporters and writers. "The entrance of the German army into Brussels has lost the human quality. . . . What came . . . is not men marching, but a force of nature like a tidal wave, and avalanche or a river flooding its banks. At this minute it is rolling through Brussels as the swollen waters of the Conemaugh Valley swept through Johnstown." (Mitchell Stephens)

____1914 Max Eastman. Editorials in The Masses regarding the 1913 Ludlow Massacre. Smart, clear, crisp and (gasp) modern. (Michael Hirsch)

____1916-1922 Carlos Montezuma. Wassaja. Montezuma’s newspaper said that missionaries and anthropologists--and friends of the Indian--were messing up things. He used Socratic dialogue and signed the pieces "Julius," said to be a Bureau of Indian Affairs-governed, but not BIA-educated, Indian. (Mark N. Trahant)

____1919 John Reed. "Ten Days That Shook the World." If as Matthew Arnold said "journalism is literature in a hurry," this is a perfect example. (Madeleine Blais) Historians would do better. But this was probably the most consequential news story of the century, and Reed was there, and Reed could write. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1919 Hugh Fullerton. Black Sox scandal. Fullerton, a respected baseball writer, broke it--probably the top sports story of the century in this country. Much criticized for his early investigations – how dare he make such charges? But he was right, and his facts would be used in baseball’s own investigations. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1920 Richard Grozier. Investigation of the original Ponzi scheme. Grozier led the Boston Post’s crusade to uncover one of the largest swindles in American history, that of Charles Ponzi, who was one of Boston’s leading figures. The Post’s coverage helped to bring down Ponzi, whose name has joined the English lexicon. (David Mindich)

____1921 Herbert Bayard Swope. "Klan Exposed." Swope and a battlion of New York World reporters exposed the secret and illegal workings of the Klan. Response by the Klan: hate letters and a "DEATH ULTIMATUM" sent to the World. But the World won a Pulitzer. (David Mindich)

____1922 Ben Hecht. Series of columns: "1,001 Afternoons in Chicago." A masterful writer using a basic journalistic form--the column--to explore philosophical limitations and social blind spots of journalism. His method: self-criticism, off-path wanderings, off-beat wonderings. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1922. William Allen White. "To an Anxious Friend." Famous defense of free speech, especially in times of danger. Appeared in the Emporia (Kansas) Gazette and was widely reprinted throughout the U.S. (David Mindich) Work of the best known and most respected of the small-town editors. True moral voices "from the heartland" have been few and far between; this guy pulled it off. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1923 Samuel D. McCoy. "Crusade to End Florida Peonage Evil." New York World reporting on the case of young man who was beaten to death by a "whipping boss" in a Florida jail. The investigation led to the arrest of the killer and Florida’s suspension of whipping in prisons. (David Mindich)

____1924 Grantland Rice. Notre Dame’s "Four Horsemen" Perhaps the most famous lead of all time: "Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. But these are only aliases. Their real names are Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend Cyclone before which another Army football team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds yesterday afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down on the bewildering panorama spread on the green plain below." (Mitchell Stephens)

____1925 H.L. Mencken. Coverage of the Scopes monkey trial. Eviscerated William Jennings Bryant and all who admired him. Devastating and effective. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1925 H.L Mencken. "In Memoriam: W.J.B." One of the preeminent examples of Mencken’s acerbic criticism. (Lamar Graham)

____1926 Julian LaRose Harris’s Columbus Enquirer-Sun (smallest daily in Georgia). Crusading editorials against Ku Klux Klan, local lynching and laws against teaching evolution in public schools. Editorials lose subscribers, win Pulitzer. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1926 Damon Runyon. Crime reporting. The style found in much American detective fiction can be traced back to here. Guys and dolls. Blondes and rubes. No style is more street-wise; few have been as intense. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1928 Walter Lippmann. New York World editorial dealing with the case of the "Radium Girls." The editorial and an accompanying cartoon of the five women before the barred doors of justice brought the courts around and helped the "Radium Girls" in their case. They also exemplified Lippmann’s ideal of the role of the press in social conflict and the difficulties the press had in dealing with scientific issues. (William Kovarik)

____1930 H.L Mencken. "Christian Science Technique." One of the preeminent examples of Mencken’s acerbic criticism. (Lamar Graham)

____1931-34 Dorothy Thompson. Reports on the rise of Hitler in Cosmopolitan and Harper’s. Early. Prescient. Powerful. She travels – checks in, checks out – through a country she portrays as already haunted by onrushing villainy and horror: "I Saw Hitler." (Mitchell Stephens)

____1935 Heywood Broun. "It Seems to Me: 1925-1935." Collected columns. A passion for the underdog. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1936 John Steinbeck. Reports on Okie migrant camp life for the San Francisco News. Draws wide attention to plight of these farm workers. The basis for "The Grapes of Wrath." (Mitchell Stephens)

____1936 St-Louis Post-Dispatch. Crusade against voter fraud that invalidated 40,000 fraudulent ballots. The colorful coverage included photos of abandoned buildings with captions such as "56 registered from here." The governor fired the entire election board following the newspaper’s exposures. (David Mindich)

____1936 Robert Capa. Spanish Civil War photos for Life. Who can forget Capa’s capturing of the instant of death in a Republican solider. The preeminent image of the Spanish Civil War. (Lamar Graham)

____1937 Herb Morrison. Tearful live report on explosion of the Hindenburg for WLS in Chicago. Is there any more famous line than "Oh, the humanity" in the history of journalism? (Lamar Graham) Hardly objective, but what immediacy and emotion! "Oh! Oh! Oh! . . . It’s burst into flames. . . .Get out of the way, please. Oh my, this is terrible. . . . It is burning, bursting into flames and is falling. . . ." (Mitchell Stephens)

____1937-38 Ernest Hemingway. Journalistic reports on the Spanish Civil War. Yes, he cared about trout fishing and bull fighting but this was war-- with the fascists! Particularly powerful piece: "A New Kind of War." (Mitchell Stephens)

____1938 Bob Considine. Louis-Schmeling fight column. (Paul K. Harral)

____1939-45 Mollie Painter-Downes. New Yorker dispatches from WWII London. Probably second only to Murrow in informing the American public about life in London during the Blitz. (Lamar Graham)

____1940 Edward R. Murrow. "This is London . . ." radio reports for CBS on the German bombing of London. Also collected in book form. (David Brinkley, Jay Rosen) Still gives people chills. (Lamar Graham) Superb eye for sympathetic detail. Controlled, understated portraits of courage of Londoners rallies support for Allies in U.S. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1940-45 Ernie Pyle. Reports from Europe and the Pacific during World War II. His name is synonymous with WWII journalism. (Lamar Graham) The GI’s perspective. Detailed. Human. Moving. Widely popular. Few made better use of notepad or typewriter. (Mitchell Stephens) Especially "The Death of Captain Waskow." At the front lines in Italy, Jan. 10, 1944. It’s vivid, moving and puts you there. (Gene Roberts) Especially his writing about D-Day. (Jay Rosen)

____1940-50 George Seldes. In Fact. His own weekly newsletter exposes "falsehoods in the daily press"--including their reluctance, because of advertisers, to report on link between cigarettes and cancer. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1941 William Shirer. "Berlin Diary." There is absolutely no better book by an American about the rise of the Third Reich. A gripping--and harrowing--view from inside Hitler’s Germany. (Lamar Graham)

____1941 Rebecca Wells. "Black Lamb and Gray Falcon." Fifty-odd years after it was written, it remains the best primer on the Balkans. (Lamar Graham)

____1941 James Agee and Walker Evans. "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men." Incomparable poetic evocation in the guise of cataloguing, essays, photos and pastiche. Nobody can ever do that again--it’s too innocent. (Todd Gitlin) For its prose and for visiting the forgotten Americans. (Jay Rosen) The classic go-see magazine assignment, rejected by the head office, that liberated journalists from the cult of objectivity. The only catch: you have to be Agee to pull it off. Opens the way for Mailer and Didion to experiment with form and structure. (Anne Matthews) Just the photos by Walker Evans. Forgive me, but Agee’s writing in this volume is so over the top as to be alienating, so despite the usual knee-jerk worship of this volume, I say the photos are its true heart and what beautiful, American, narrative-packed unforgettable faces we get here. (Madeleine Blais)

____1941 H.L. Mencken. "Newspaper Days." America’s greatest newspaperman in a rare genial mood: an industry memoir crossed with a terrific series of How I Got That Story tales. (Anne Matthews)

____1943 Joseph Mitchell. "McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon." Articles and profiles for the New Yorker. Big shots, circus freaks, cranks--Mitchell profiled them all with dignity and compassion. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1943 Joseph Mitchell. "The Mohawks in High Steel." Has had an enduring shelf life, perhaps because a fierce literary sensibility was visited on the real world. (Madeleine Blais)

____1944 Robert Capa. Ten photographs from D-Day. Capa went in with the second wave at Omaha Beach. His pictures--only ten survived an over-eager processor back in London--were perhaps the only record of one of the modern world’s most important moments. (Madeleine Blais)

 

____1944 Bill Mauldin. Cartoons for Stars and Stripes. Critique of army brass outrages Gen. Patton, delights "dogface" GIs. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1944 A.J. Liebling. "The Road Back to Paris," Contains Liebling’s World War II reportage, which was revolutionary in bringing literary style, humor and humanity to war coverage. (Ben Yagoda)

____1945 Homer Bigart. Account in the New York Herald-Tribune of being over Japan in a bomber when World War II came to an end. Lede grabs you. Story puts you there. (Gene Roberts)

____1945 Walter Bernstein. "Keep Your Head Down." Writings about World War II. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1945 Margaret Bourke-White. Photographs for Life magazine following the defeat of Germany. She captures Nazi suicides and prisoners at Buchenwald. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1945 James Agee. Piece on the bombing of Hiroshima. "The greatest and most terrible of wars ended this week. . . ." A platform for one of Time’s best-known writers to produce one of journalism’s most eloquent pieces. (Barrett Seaman)

____1945 Hodding Carter, Jr. "Go for Broke." One of a series of anti-racism editorials that appeared in Carter’s Delta Democrat-Times (Greenville, MS) and won a Pulitzer. (Jay Rosen)

____1945 Joe Rosenthal. Photograph of Marines raising a U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima. Iconic. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1945 Edward R. Murrow. Report of the liberation of Buchenwald. This report is one, if not the best, example of radio reporting at its finest. Murrow uses superb description of what happened there. (Christopher Harper)

____1945-48 Sam Lacey. Coverage of Jackie Robinson as he broke baseball’s color barrier. (Eric Newton)

____1946 John Hersey. "Hiroshima." (Richard Petrow, Ben Yagoda) In its very quietude and the deliberate small scale of its scope, this work nevertheless achieves volume and magnitude. Poetic, prescient, and respectful of the clash of culture and the clash of wills that ushered in the atomic era. (Madeleine Blais) The pinnacle of war reporting, the first polished example of the nonfiction novel, the beginning of the New Yorker’s power to shape the socio-political agenda (Anne Matthews) Originally given an entire issue of The New Yorker. Nothing played as large a role in awakening Americans to the horrors of nuclear weapons as this close-up on the survivors. And the writing has a remarkable, at times poetic clarity. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1946 George Orwell. "Politics and the English Language." True then, true now. A warning for the journalist who gets too close to any agenda (however appealing) or any inner circle (ditto). (Anne Matthews)

____1947 A. J. Liebling. "Wayward Pressman." Collection of press criticism for The New Yorker. He did it first and probably best. Consistently witty, occasionally lyrical. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1947 The New Yorker. "The New Yorker Book of War Pieces." It wasn’t only A.J. Liebling (see above). John Lardner, John Hersey, Walter Bernstein, Daniel Lang, Edmund Wilson, E.J. Kahn and Philip Hamburger all contributed to The New Yorker’s coverage of the war, which did more than anything else to establish it as a serious journalistic magazine. (Ben Yagoda)

____1949 E. B. White. "Here is New York." E. B. White’s beautiful ode to New York. (Stephen Solomon)

____1949 John Gunther. "Death Be Not Proud: A Memoir." What it is to be young, doomed and brave. (Madeleine Blais)

____1949 Meyer Berger. Report on killings of Howard Unruh. This is the story--4,000 words written on deadline--that finally wins this legendary New York Times feature writer and columnist his Pulitzer. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1949 Aldo Leopold. "A Sand County Almanac." Reports from the field, literally: a scientist and professor turns out, for obscure wildlife magazines, deceptively low-key pieces that--posthumously collected and edited--define modern environmental writing, environmental history, environmental ethics. (Anne Matthews)

____1949-54 Harrison Salisbury. Reporting from the Soviet Union for the New York Times. (Richard Petrow)

____1950 Herblock. Political cartoons. Herbert Block coins term "McCarthyism." Hounds Nixon. Wins three Pulitzers. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1951 Alfred Kazin. "A Walker in the City." An academic turns to cultural reporting, and encapsulates the New York immigrant experience better than anyone since Jacob Riis. (Anne Matthews)

____1952 Lillian Ross. "Picture." This book is why Capote’s "In Cold Blood" is arguably the first example of literary journalism. (Lamar Graham) This account of the making of "The Red Badge of Courage," published sixteen years before "In Cold Blood," was truly the first non-fiction novel. (Ben Yagoda)

____1953-71 I.F. Stone. I.F. Stone’s Weekly. One man. Four pages. Substantial if often delayed impact. He read the transcripts, uncovered the contradictions and absurdities. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1954 Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly. See It Now documentary taking on Senator Joseph McCarthy. (Michael Ludlum) Largely responsible for turning the nation against that Red-baiter. (Lamar Graham) Rare (unprecedented?) courage by network journalists. After Army-McCarthy hearings, probably the major blow the Senator took. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1954 Anthony Lewis. Clearing of Abraham Chasanow. Lewis received a Pulitzer for articles in the Washington, D.C., Daily News clearing Chasanow, a Navy employee, of being a security risk. The Navy later officially called its own actions a "grave injustice." (David Mindich)

____1954 E.B. White. "The Second Tree From the Corner." Fugitive pieces from a writer whose star has fallen considerably in the last quarter-century, but whose voice was the one to beat in magazine writing from Harding’s time to Kennedy’s. (Anne Matthews)

____1955 Murray Kempton. "Part of Our Times: Some Ruins and Monuments of the Thirties." (George Will)

____1956 A.J. Liebling. "The Sweet Science." Journalism’s perpetual nostalgie de la boue/de la banlieue conflicts made into literature thanks to Liebling’s immaculate prose. Sports writing at its peak. (Anne Matthews)

____1957 Tom and Pat Gish. The weekly Mountain Eagle, Whitesburg, Kentucky. Attacks on strip mining. Paper’s motto: "It Screams!" Boycotts launched against it. Offices set on fire. Motto changed to: "It Still Screams!" (Mitchell Stephens)

____1957 Vance Packard. "The Hidden Persuaders." An investigation of advertising and consumerism. His examination of the post-war explosion of the consumer ethic in America and its exploitation by Madison Avenue. Of particular interest was his discussion of subliminal advertising which, it’s safe to say, most Americans were unaware of at the time. (Michael Ludlum)

____1958 Ralph McGill. "One Church, One School." (Jay Rosen) McGill’s editorial in the Atlanta Constitution was a forceful statement against southern violence during the Civil Rights movement. (David Mindich)

____1959 Martha Gellhorn. "The Face of War." Gellhorn, who died in 1998, covered wars from the 1930s (the Spanish Civil War) to the 1980s (the invasion of Panama), and her work stands up better than that of the man she was briefly married to, Ernest Hemingway. (Ben Yagoda)

____1959 James Baldwin. "Letter from the South: Nobody Knows My Name." In the Partisan Review. Charged, crucial subject. Hot, humid prose. He was there early, and he was there in force. Few works of journalism grab so hard. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1960 Robert Drew, Richard Leacock and D.A. Pennebaker. "Primary." Early cinema verite documentary on Kennedy’s primary run. Camera follows Kennedy around in cars and receptions. Groundbreaking style and coverage of a campaign. (Marcia Rock)

____1960 Joseph Mitchell. "The Bottom of the Harbor." Another lovely writer whose prose has become totemic for ambitious journalists: the long opening paragraph of ‘The Rivermen’ ("I often feel drawn to the Hudson River, and I have spent a lot of time through the years poking around the part of it that flows past the city. I never get tired of looking at it; it hypnotizes me. I like to look at it in midsummer, when it is warm and dirty and drowsy, and I like to look at it in January, when it is carrying ice...") bedevils just about any reporter who cares about style. Mitchell is what every journalist wants to be, and also what every journalist ought to fear becoming: a wonderful writer who first deliberately erases the fact-fiction border . . . then falls silent for decades. (Anne Matthews)

____1960 Edward R. Murrow, David Lowe and Fred Friendly. CBS Reports documentary "Harvest of Shame." (Michael Ludlum, Jay Rosen) The moment when TV documentary and film production came together. Perfect writing to picture. Story of migrant workers. (Marcia Rock) Expose of the condition of migrant farm workers in the United States. Writing that you don’t get anymore. Shots that they don’t hold anymore. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1961 Theodore White’s "The Making of the President 1960." This groundbreaking book told the story of the presidential election in a way that had never been done before, and it has served as the model for presidential journalism ever since. It treated the election as a long quest by individuals, complete with discussions of personal character, "inside baseball" discussions of political machines and candidate strategy, and a novelistic attention to detail. It is sui generis; the Pulitzer Prize committee created a special category in order to honor it. (Jon Enriquez) A revelation, at the time. Took the public one large step closer to politicians. Not his fault if we haven’t always liked what we have seen there since. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1961 A.J. Liebling. "The Earl of Louisiana." Classic portrayal of Earl Long. (Gene Roberts) A political primer written with great style that is the harbinger of all great reporting about men in power and the twin lures of corruption and abuse. (Madeleine Blais)

____1962 Rachel Carson. "Silent Spring." (David Brinkley, Richard Petrow, Ben Yagoda) Felicitously brought together and popularized ideas that were in the air, and sparked one of the major social movements of our era. (Ellen Willis) It represents an exhaustive research effort, compelling reporting of the findings, and a pivotal moment in communication with the general public on a matter of policy. I cannot imagine a more appropriate example of the function of a work of journalism. (Priscilla Coit Murphy) A rather large political movement was spawned by this work. (Mitchell Stephens) Carson’s book, an expose of the environmental consequences of DDT, is a classic of environmental reporting and provided a vital impetus to the founding of the environmental activist movement. (Stephen Solomon)

____1962-75 Peter Arnett. AP dispatches from Vietnam. I don’t think anyone captured the soldier’s-eye view of Vietnam better. (Lamar Graham)

____1963 Murray Kempton. "America Comes of Middle Age: Columns 1950-1962." (Richard Petrow, George Will)

____1963 Hazel Brannon Smith. "Through Hazel’s Eyes." Smith became the first female winner of the Pulitzer prize because of her "steadfast adherence to her editorial duty in the face of great pressure and opposition." In her editorials for the Lexington (Miss.) Advertiser, she tirelessly criticized extremists and southern lawmakers. (David Mindich)

____1963 Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather. Live coverage of the JFK assassination. I was born after JFK’s murder, but I remain haunted by the footage of Cronkite and Rather bringing the news to the nation. I’ve never seen more emotional reporting. (Lamar Graham)

____1963 Terry Southern. "Twirling at Ole Miss." Classic ‘60s "underground" journalism. (Lamar Graham)

____1963 John Hershey. "Here To Stay." An anthology of his New Yorker pieces, built around the theme of man’s determination to survive, even at times and places (concentration camps in World War II, for example) when life was at its worst. The collection includes "Hiroshima" and much else that is stunning. (Gene Roberts)

____1963 Robert Drew. "Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment." Behind-the-scenes documentary aired on CBS shows President John F. Kennedy and staff as they out-manuver Governor George Wallace and desegregate the University of Alabama. (Mary Sisson)

____1963 James Baldwin. "The Fire Next Time." An anguished call to arms by one black writer battling the horrors of racism in America. (Madeleine Blais)

____1963 Betty Friedan. "The Feminine Mystique." Felicitously brought together and popularized ideas that were in the air, and sparked one of the major social movements of our era. (Ellen Willis)

____1963-72 Gene Miller. Reporting that lead to the acquittal of two men on death row. In 1963, two white gas station attendants were shot to death in Port St. Joe, Florida. Two black men, Freddie Pitts and Wilbert Lee, were beaten and forced to confess to the crime. Four years later, another man confessed, and a Miami Herald reporter, Gene Miller, spent eight and a half years investigating and then trying to free the two men. Finally, with the case before the U.S. Supreme Court, the men were pardoned by Florida’s governor. (David Mindich)

____1964 Susan Sontag. "Notes on Camp." Its unusual form accomplished what the author wanted: it succeeded in the difficult task of pinning down a sensibility, so much so that our view of the phenomena collectively known as camp will be forever filtered through this essay. (Madeleine Blais) Groundbreaking intellectual journalism. (Lamar Graham)

____1964 Lillian Ross. "Reporting." The New Yorker profile reaches an apotheosis in the marvelous collection that demonstrates once and for all that great journalsim is in the details, whether describing a beauty pageant, a high school class trip, the making of a movie, or a great wirter (Hemingway) with a tendency to preen and pontificate. The Hemingway piece alone could stand as a single nominee. (Madeleine Blais)

____1964-77 Eric Sevareid. Commentary and analysis pieces aired on the CBS Evening News with Walker Cronkite. (Michael Ludlum)

____1965 Morley Safer. Report for CBS on atrocities committed by American soldiers on the hamlet of Cam Ne in Vietnam. CBS officials didn’t want to air this story. But Safer had film. President Lyndon Johnson wakes CBS’s president to protest. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1965 John McPhee. "A Sense of Where You Are." The book written from his New Yorker piece on Bill Bradley. (Gene Roberts) McPhee’s profile of Bill Bradley, the Princeton basketball player, was his first major story for The New Yorker and represents well his gift for detail, observation, and phrasing. (Stephen Solomon)

____1965 Truman Capote. "In Cold Blood." A meticulous work of sociology, psychology, legal studies, and literature. The standard bearer for a certain kind of true crime journalism. Probably my top candidates for a time capsule to be opened at the end of the next millenium. (Madeleine Blais) No one had ever engaged in a process of journalistic reconstruction on this scale before Capote. That he played fast and loose with the facts in some passages was the fault of the author, not his method. (Ben Yagoda) An absolute classic--and one of the first great examples of so-called literary journalism (Capote would say the first example). (Lamar Graham) Capote’s chilling and detailed account of the murder of a Kansas family and the lives of their killers. Genre establishing. (Mitchell Stephens) A tour de force of crime writing, In Cold Blood became a pioneer of literary journalism. (Stephen Solomon)

____1965 Joseph Mitchell. "Joe Gould’s Secret." Mitchell was the dean of literary journalism, and this incredibly subtle portrait of a Greenwich Village charlatan was his masterpiece. (Ben Yagoda)

____1965 Malcolm X and Alex Haley. "The Autobiography of Malcolm X." Seems to me part of an on-going colloquy about the very nature of racism and its evil manifestations. Goes nuclear, but has an integrity and on-going freshness that makes it as important today as when it was published. (Madeleine Blais)

____1965 Tom Wolfe. "The Kandy-Kolored, Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby." Wolfe is a great New Journalist but also the most important and influential cultural reporter/polemicist to come out of the 60s. In the pieces that make up the book, he not only chronicles in miraculous detail the emergence of new cultural forms from the "vinyl deeps"; he invents a style and rhetoric that owes as much to advertising as to literature and conveys through its energy and exuberance the spirit of those new forms and of American mass culture in general; and he effectively champions that culture against the near-universal contempt of the intellectual establishment of the day. (Ellen Willis) The

first and best collection by a writer who is, in my mind, our greatest living critic of status, manners and mores. Others will object, but I think he’s modern America’s Balzac. (Lamar Graham)

____1965 Tom Wolfe. "The Last American Hero." The saga of Junior Johnson, the stock car racing driver. (Gene Roberts)

____1965 Lennart Nilsson. Photo spread showing six-week-old human embryo. In Life. Look at the previously unseen. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1965 George Plimpton. "Paper Lion." (Mitchell Stephens)

____1966 Ralph Nader. "Unsafe at any Speed." Nader’s expose of the built-in safety deficiencies of the General Motors Corvair rang the starting bell for a major consumer movement in the United States. (Stephen Solomon)

____1966 Gay Talese. "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold." Like a shimmering short story, this compact, resonant piece shows how the "artful glimpse" (William Trevor’s words) can often evoke a stunning panorama. Economy, economy, economy of detail and vision create a wealth, wealth, wealth. (Madeleine Blais) The prototype--and paragon--of the modern celebrity profile. Current efforts all pale by comparison. (Lamar Graham)

____1966 H.D. Quigg. UPI Sunday reprise of Charles Joseph Whitman’s shooting from a bell tower on the University of Texas campus. A very early example of tick-tock journalism and very well done. (Paul Harral)

____1966 Jean Stafford. "A Woman in History." Same comment as for Joseph Mitchell on "Mohawks in High Steel": Has had an enduring shelf life, perhaps because a fierce literary sensibility was visited on the real world. (Madeleine Blais)

____1966 Studs Terkel. "Division Street: America." His first book, the one in which he invented his form. Romantic in the Chicago tradition of Sandburg and Dreiser, but impressive. (Todd Gitlin)

____1967. Nick Kotz. Bad Meat. Reported on unsanitary conditions in the meat-packing industry for the Des Moines Register. His findings, including the disclosure of a 1962 government report, led to the passage of the Federal Wholesome Meat Act of 1967. (David Mindich)

____1967 John McPhee. "Oranges." Fine example of what McPhee does: connect, explore, get close, closer, closest. And of course the writing sings. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1967 J. Anthony Lukas. "The Two Worlds of Linda Fitzpatrick." In the New York Times. (Gene Roberts)

____1967 Riverside (Ca.) Press-Enterprise. Uncovering corruption in handling Indian estates. The investigation led to convictions and clsoer monitoring of these estates by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Pulitzer 1968. (David Mindich)

____1967 Frederick Wiseman. "Titicut Follies." Documentary of life in a mental hospital. The ultimate cinema-verite style/fly-on-the-wall style documentary. Wiseman shoots hours of footage and then edits it down with no narration. (Marcia Rock) The texture of everyday life in institutions. (Todd Gitlin)

____1967 John Sack. "M." I don’t think anyone captured the soldier’s-eye view of Vietnam better. (Lamar Graham)

____1967 D.A. Pennebaker. "Don’t Look Back." The 1965 Dylan tour of England. A pungent revelation of "attitude" before there was a name or an institution for it. Catches the hysteria of youth culture, and the excitement of it. (Todd Gitlin)

____1968 Frederick Wiseman. "High School." The texture of everyday life in institutions. (Todd Gitlin)

____1968 Tom Wolfe. "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test." By far the best book written about the 60s counterculture; yet it transcends its immediate subject matter to illuminate larger themes of religious experience and American myth-making. Wolfe combines his usual virtuoso reporting with an uncanny ability to articulate an experience whose fundamental power is beyond words; and in recounting the Pranksters’ spiritual quest he manages to combine unfailing empathy with unfailing critical distance. (Ellen Willis) I frankly don’t know how much of a recreation this is, but it feels fundamentally true to me (and I’ve never seen its truth contested). (Todd Gitlin) Here, Wolfe takes Capote’s innovation in narrative journalism and supercharges it. A piece of pure journalistic performance. (Ben Yagoda) If one of the purposes of journalism is to help us enter new worlds, Wolfe did it as well here as it has ever been done. He got something very bizarre, but very influential, very right. And the writing itself is also eye-opening. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1968 Gary Wills. "Martin Luther King Is Still on the Case." From Esquire. One of the great magazine pieces from the civil rights movement. Maybe the great. (Lamar Graham)

____1968 Walter Cronkite. Documentary on Vietnam. (Michael Ludlum, Richard Petrow) An important moment in journalism history. Today, it still provokes much analysis. Did it influence Lyndon Johnson’s bombshell decision in March to reject another run for the presidency? Did it influence American public opinion or did it more accurately reflect growing antiwar sentiment? (Garry Gilbert) This CBS broadcast convinced President Johnson that he had lost the country. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1968 Joan Didion. "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" (collected essays). Having apparently received a transfusion of DNA from Montaigne at birth, Didion went on to become a master of the kind of sentence with rises and falls with surprising fillips and grand finales that qualify as a kind of music. Marry this grand style with her down-to-earth subject matter and the union is unforgettable. (Madeleine Blais) A good chunk of the ‘60s in one slim book. (Lamar Graham) For seeing the dark side of the 60s and forecasting the culture wars of today. (Jay Rosen) A collection of her searching, often nasty, often lovely cultural excursions. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1968 Albert and David Maysles. "Salesman." Bible salesmen. Cinema verite style where filmmakers go walking with the salesmen. (Marcia Rock)

____1968 Norman Mailer. "The Armies of the Night." (Todd Gitlin, Ellen Willis) When everyone else was discovering the first person, Mailer was discovering the third, in this tour de force of neo-Victorian prose. (Ben Yagoda) For great writing in the participant/observer mode. Will stand the test of time. (Jay Rosen) Is there a better book about the anti-war movement of the ‘60s? (Lamar Graham) Packed tight with observations, revelations, thoughts. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1968 Eddie Adams and Vo Suu. Photograph of a Saigon execution. An AP photographer and an NBC cameraman both captured the summary execution of a Viet Cong guerrilla by a South Vietnamese general during the Tet offensive. The image that probably did most to turn the public against the war. (Mitchell Stephens) Along with that pic of a little girl running naked down a road after a napalm attack, Adams’ image of an ARVN general blowing away his prisoner is arguably the most recognizable image of the war in Viet Nam. (Lamar Graham)

____1969 Joe McGinniss. The Selling of the Presidency, 1968. McGinniss conveys an inside view of the marketing of a presidential candidate, Richard Nixon, to the American voters. The revelations might well evince a yawn today, but 30 years ago it was an eye-opener--and a first. (Stephen Solomon)

____1969 Seymour Hersh. Investigation of massacre committed by American soldiers at My Lai in Vietnam. (Richard Petrow) What other story brought home the horror of Vietnam better? (Lamar Graham) One reporter; unaffiliated; unable, originally, to sell the story to the mainstream media. But he got it right; the mainstream belatedly followed. Among the loudest of the questions raised about the American war effort. (Mitchell Stephens) Hersh uncovered a massacre perpetrated by American troops against Vietnamese civilians. His painstaking investigation was a factor in turning American attitudes against the war. (Stephen Solomon)

____1969 D.A. Pennebaker. "Monterey Pop." Rock innocence, excitement before the rock culture became so jaded. (Todd Gitlin)

____1969 Pauline Kael. "Trash, Art, and the Movies." Eloquent argument declaring the independence of movies from the tyranny of "art" defined as what the authorities say is good for you and opting instead for a conception of popular art? trash? whatever valued for its compex and various contributions to the audience’s pleasure and the heightening and intensification of experience. In resisting the "auteur theory" and its attempt to coopt movies into the ranks of high culture, Kael’s work in general, and this piece in particular, were insturmential in articulating an aesthetic of mass culture as having its own distinctive properties and virtues, and had a powerful influence on younger cultural critics. (Ellen Willis)

____1969 Walter Cronkite. Coverage of the space flight that put a man on the moon. Cronkite’s preparation was extensive and it showed. He provided knowledgeable insights on the astronauts and the technology involved. His reporting style complemented the significance and drama of the occasion without intruding on its innate newsworthiness. (Michael Ludlum)

____1970 William Jones. "Sadism Rides an Ambulance." Reports in the Chicago Tribune of awful brutality by an ambulance driver of his charges. Jones went undercover as an ambulance worker himself and exposed such things as making a heart attack victim walk to her stretcher. (David Mindich)

____1970 Gay Talese. "Fame and Obscurity: Portraits by Gay Talese Contains a large chunk of what I consider his best work, including his 1964 book "The Bridge," on the construction of the Verrazano, and his classic profiles of Frank Sinatra, Joe DiMaggio, and Joe Louis. One of the two (the other being Tom Wolfe) most influential New Journalists, creating a genre of literary journalism that combines the use of novelistic techniques with in-depth saturation reporting. Along with Wolfe, is dedicated to showing that reporting is a conscious aesthetic endeavor, not a mechanical conveyor belt between fact and reader. A master of nuanced, mind-bogglingly thorough observation, narrative reconstruction of events, and depiction of character through the revelatory scene, action, piece of dialogue. (Ellen Willis) Few have gotten more from scenes; legwork; polished, formal writing. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1970 Hunter S. Thompson. "The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved." The piece in which he establishes his inverted but oddly effective variety of journalism: unleashing fantasy in search of truth. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1970 Tom Wolfe. "Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers." (Todd Gitlin) Energetic and iconoclastic, this essay remains a standard bearer for the New Journalism. (Madeleine Blais)

____1971 New York Times. Publication of the Pentagon Papers. The Nixon administration tried to block the New York Times from printing the papers, but the United States Supreme Court ruled that the government may not exercise "prior restraint." (David Mindich) Publication of the Pentagon Papers precipitated a prior restraint against the Times and the Post and a landmark Supreme Court decision on the rights of the press. (Stephen Solomon)

____1971 Jon Nordheimer "From Dakto to Detroit: death of a Troubled Hero." Brilliant, under-reprinted account in New York Times of a black Congressional Medal of Honor winner (Vietnam) who was killed while trying to rob a grocery store. (Gene Roberts)

____1971-99 Bill Moyers. "Bill Moyers Journal." Series of programs bringing intelligence and a nuanced understanding of American life to TV. (Richard Petrow)

____1971 Peter Davis. "The Selling of the Pentagon." CBS News documentary. (Marcia Rock) Few network television documentaries have had the courage to investigate the government, let alone the Pentagon; few have succeeded in shaking things up. This one did. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1971 Norman Mailer. "Of a Fire on the Moon." What can you say? He goes to the core. When the subject is right, his subjectivity transcends itself. (Todd Gitlin)

____1972 Huyn Cong Ut. Photograph of a burning girl running from a napalm attack. Unforgettable image. The horror of war, this war. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1972 Timothy Crouse. "Boys on the Bus." Reporting on reporters. No one has done it better. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1972 Roger Kahn. "Boys of Summer." The afterlife of athletes, beautifully told. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1972-73 Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Watergate investigations for the Washington Post. (Jay Rosen) And the president resigned. (Mitchell Stephens) Can we even conceive of what’s happening to Clinton had it not been for what happened to Nixon? (Lamar Graham) The Woodward and Bernstein pieces are an example of investigative reporting at its very best, a standard by which all other efforts are measured. The Post articles unraveled the Watergate scandal and brought down Richard Nixon’s presidency. (Stephen Solomon)

____1973 Hunter S. Thompson. "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail." The cacophony of a presidential campaign—with the volume turned up. He found a kind of truth amidst the madness, through the madness. (Mitchell Stephens) You can’t talk about ‘60s/’70s journalism without talking about Thompson, and this work collects his best (even though I personally prefer "Hell’s Angels"). (Lamar Graham)

____1973 Joe Esztherhas. "Charlie Simpson’s Apocalypse." Originally published in Rolling Stone. Arguably the story that put that magazine on the map as a journalistic vehicle. (Lamar Graham)

____1973 Robert Christgau. "Any Old Way You Choose It." This pioneering collection of Esquire, Voice and Newsday essays and reviews on pop music never got the attention it deserves; it is now out of print and not even in the NYU library. The articles it consists of, however, have had an enormous impact, not only in shaping a new critical genre--pop music criticism--but by introducing into cultural journalism, in lucid and passionate prose, many of the insights about the dissolving boundaries between art and life later recycled by the academy, couched in impenetrable jargon, and labeled "postmodernism." (Ellen Willis)

____1973 Don Bartlett and James B. Steele. "Oil: The Created Crisis." The Philadelphia Inquirer. Arguably their best. So out in front of the story that acclaim came mostly a year after they wrote the series and too late for a Pulitzer. (Gene Roberts)

____1974 Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. "All the President’s Men." (Lamar Graham) As much as this book is about government and power and its temptations, it is also about reporting and power and its temptations. (Madeleine Blais)

____1975 Nora Ephron. "Crazy Salad." Women’s lives and traditional housewife culture exposed with great wit. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1975 Frederick Wiseman. "Welfare." The texture of everyday life in institutions. (Todd Gitlin) This documentary, broadcast on PBS, was cinema verite at its most powerful. Activities inside a New York City welfare office in remarkably tight focus. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1975 Peter Davis. "Hearts and Minds." (Marcia Rock)

____1975 Greil Marcus. "Mystery Train." The definitive exploration of rock and roll as American culture—or rather the American drama acted out by its rock and roll performers—particularly the tour de force of its last chapter, "Presliad." Its prose, as I wrote in my New Yorker review, by turns "attains an elegiac eloquence that echoes the blues" and is "pure effluvium of pop, crammed with digressions and amplifications and throwaway insights and the endless bits of information a fan can’t bear to leave out." (Ellen Willis)

____1976 Karen Durbin. "On Being a Woman Alone." Durbin’s groundbreaking personal essays in the Village Voice are early models of a genre of female memoir that has since become fashionable (and too often formulaic). She was relentlessly attacked for being "confessional" and "narcissistic" and writing about her lovers. But for her admirers, including me, her work is notable for its honesty, lack of sentimentality, and fidelity to the ambiguity and complexity of real messy life, as well as a feminist politics that emphasizes freedom—material, sexual and emotional. Her moments of illumination are always earned, never contrived, nor do they ever pretend to ultimately settle anything. This one in my view is her best. (Ellen Willis)

____1976 C.B.D. Bryan. "Friendly Fire." A book that has the same impact as the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington. It is as elegant and solid, as well. (Madeleine Blais)

____1977 John McPhee. "The John McPhee Reader." (Richard Petrow) No one McPhee work stands out above the others, but he deserves to be on the list because of his reportorial creativity, his structural ingenuity and his understated humor. This is a marvelous anthology from his best period. (Ben Yagoda)

____1977 Alan and Susan Raymond. "Police Tapes." Cinema verite style documentary that presages 48 Hours and other reality programs that put the camera on the shoulder and went riding with cops. (Marcia Rock)

____1977 Philip Caputo. "Rumor of War." This is one of the most subtle, moving, frustrating and beautiful memoirs of men at war ever written. It captures all the hope that went into the war and all the despair that emerged in uncompromising prose. (Madeleine Blais)

____1977 Michael Herr. "Dispatches." Poetic and mundane, this work captures the essential contradictory nature of our involvement in Vietnam. (Madeleine Blais) Writing so powerful it takes your breath away. The classic book of Vietnam journalism. (Ben Yagoda) The one book from the new journalism that will always stand up as factual observation using the style of fiction. (Jay Rosen) The single most compelling book about

Vietnam ever written, in my opinion. (Lamar Graham) Jumpy, haunted and shattering—like some rock music, like this war. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1978 Gaylord Shaw. "Dams: A Question of Safety" series for the Los Angeles Times. Shaw’s articles led to a huge federal investigation of dams nationwide. (David Mindich)

____1978 Errol Morris. "Gates of Heaven." The pet cemetery and people who care about it. Amazing Americana, respectful of crankiness. (Todd Gitlin)

____1979 Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong. "The Brethren." This was an extensive inside look at how the U.S. Supreme Court operates. Significantly, the book illuminated the inner workings of one of our three branches of government that until then had been closed to view. (Stephen Solomon)

____1979 Ira Wohl. "Best Boy." (Marcia Rock)

____1979 Dave and Cathy Mitchell. Reporting on Synanon. Two reporters who had recently bought a small California paper, the Point Reyes Light, undertook an investigation that uncovered the bizarre dealings of a nearby cult, Synanon. Their efforts won them a Pulitzer. (David Mindich)

____1979 Michele Wallace. "Black Macho and the Myth of Superwoman." Book at first so vilified by its intended beneficiaries that you knew it had to be hitting a nerve. Started a debate on race and feminism that has never stopped. Every black feminist from bell hooks to Lisa Jones bears her imprint. (Ellen Willis)

____1979 Thomas Ferrick, Jr., Susan Q. Stanahan, Joel N. Shurkin, et. al. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s reconstruction of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. (Gene Roberts)

____1979 Hunter S. Thompson. "The Great Shark Hunt." You can’t talk about ‘60s/’70s journalism without talking about Thompson, and this is a second work that collects his best (Lamar Graham)

____1979 Tom Wolfe. "The Right Stuff." (Gene Roberts) Another tight, insular culture opened, with great style and humor. (Mitchell Stephens) Stylish and well written, this is the best there is about space and the fighter jocks who took us there. (Stephen Solomon)

____1979 Norman Mailer. "The Executioner’s Song." A meticulous work of sociology, psychology, legal studies, and literature. The standard bearer for a certain kind of true crime journalism. Among my top candidates for a time capsule to be opened at the end of the next millenium. (Madeleine Blais) The first half of this book settles as deeply into the language of strangers as any work of nonfiction I have read. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1979 David Halberstam. "The Powers That Be." (Pamela Newkirk)

____1980 Richard Ben Cramer. Account of the capture and death of a Russian lieutenant by Afghan guerillas during the war in Afghanistan. For the Philadelphia Inquirer. (Gene Roberts)

____1981 Paul Fussell. "Thank God for the Atom Bomb." A brilliant essay by one of our great contrarians. (Michael Ludlum)

____1981 Pierre Salinger. "America Held Hostage: The Secret Negotiations." ABC documentary provided significant insight into what had gone on behind the scenes during the Iranian hostage crisis. (Christopher Harper)

____1981 Tracy Kidder. "The Soul of a New Machine." Technology made human (and for some, therefore all the more terrifying) in an elegant prose style. (Madeleine Blais) Early journalism about the computer. Clear and compelling about the complex. Unfortunately this particular computer soon became an outdated machine. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1981-85 Randy Shilts. Reporting on AIDS. Shilts was one of the only reporters in the country to report on emerging AIDS crisis. Through his reports in the San Francisco Chronicle, bathhouses were closed and health authorities were forced to confront the epidemic. (David Mindich)

____1982 Loren Jenkens. Coverage of the massacre at the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps in Lebanon. The Washington Post’s Jenkens shared the Pulitzer with Tom Friedman of the New York Times, but the Post’s coverage was much better. (Christopher Harper)

____1982 Susan Sheehan. "Is There No Place on Earth for Me?" By telling the story of a mental patient by the name of Sylvia Frumpkin in a torrent of detail, the relentlessness of her disease and the inadequacy of the people charged with her care remains a stunning example of how even the most marginal life is filled with significance if only we are prepared to use our eyes and heart to see. (Madeleine Blais)

____1982 Russell Baker. "Growing Up." Wry, self-deprecating, this story of a family trying to survive during the Depression is also a psalm to newspapers and everything they used to represent when print was king. The chapter of the correspondence between Baker’s widowed mother and the German baker is a great archive in and of itself. (Madeleine Blais)

____1982 Roger Rosenblatt. "Children of War." Time cover story. Combined great reporting and writing with the best of photojournalism. (Barrett Seaman)

____1982 Jayne Loader and Kevine and Pierce Rafferty. "Atomic Cafe." Clips from the 50s describing the hysteria aroused by the bomb. (Marcia Rock)

____1984 Michael Apted. "28 Up." (Marcia Rock)

____1985 Ted Koppel. "Nightline" (ABC) broadcast from South Africa. The first time the white government ever engaged black South Africans in public discussion. Koppel was making history, and using television journalism to do it. (Jay Rosen)

____1985 ABC. Coverage of the hijacking of TWA 847. The tarmac interview of Capt. John Testrake reamins one of the most memorable images in recent years. Also, this coverage was one of the few examples of the media serving as a means of communication between terrorists and government officials. In part of the ABC coverage, only one person died in what was a delicate diplomatic situation. (Christopher Harper)

____1985 J. Anthony Lukas. "Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families." (Gene Roberts) Tackles the most divisive issues of our time--race and class--in a reportorial format. (Jay Rosen) Like "The Executioner’s Song," this book defies boundaries of history and sociology and urban studies to create its own new category. Using the prism of three families, Lukas cuts back and forth in the present and the past to show how a current event, the busing crisis in Boston in the early seventies, has clear and tragic roots in the imprisoning past. (Madeleine Blais) A great and powerful work of journalism, derived using the classic methods of journalism (extensive interviews and observation, along with background research), but a work that also has become an important work of history, even though the events it describes were in the very recent past when Lukas wrote about them. Through the lives of three Boston families, Lukas reveals the complexity and the depth of anguish that the busing crisis of the 1970s created, and that the social problems that busing was trying to address also created. (Alan Brinkley)

____1986 Tim O’Brien. "The Things We Carry." Goes through objects (wasn’t it Wallace Stephens who said "No ideas but in things?") of a homely and sentimental nature to show us the conflict not just in the jungle and the rice paddies but inside the minds and hearts of our fighting men in Viet Nam. (Madeleine Blais)

____1986 Ross McElwee. "Sherman’s March." A personal documentary that uses Sherman’s path to retrace his own family history. (Marcia Rock)

____1986 Steve Twomey. "How Super Are Our Supercarriers?" Appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine. Awesome story movement and description. (Gene Roberts)

____1986 Sally Tisdale. "We Do Abortions Here." Appeared in Harper’s.

Confronts, with grace but without flinching, emotions surrounding the act of abortion. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1986 Bill Moyers. "The Vanishing Family--Crisis in Black America." Moyers explores the break-down of the black family. His interviews with teen moms and dads are superb. DuPont Silver Baton. (Marcia Rock)

____1986 David Shipler. "Arab and Jew." (Richard Petrow)

____1987 James Gleiek. "Chaos: Making a New Science." Announced the arrival of a new science remarkably early and sufficiently loudly and clearly that that announcement continues to reverberate. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1987 Henry Hampton. "Eyes on the Prize." Marvelous choice of film sequences, talking hears (e.g. the Little Rock high school integrators, now middle-aged and articulate. The second sequence falls down (too uncritical of the Black Panthers), but the first eight episodes or so are superb. (Todd Gitlin) Dramatic and moving account of the civil rights movement. A great work of journalism. (Pamela Newkirk)

____1987 Sylvester Monroe and Peter Goldman. "Brothers." In Newsweek. A fascinating look at Monroe’s old ghetto neighborhood in Chicago and what had happened to his old friends. (Christopher Harper)

____1988 Ted Koppel. "Nightline" (ABC) broadcast from Israel. Koppel and company got Israeli and Palestinian leaders together for the first time ever in a public forum. Koppel was making history, and using television journalism to do it. (Jay Rosen)

____1988 Errol Morris. "The Thin Blue Line." Amazing use of interviews and music to explore the question of what actually happened in a Texas murder. (Todd Gitlin) Morris’s best. (Marcia Rock)

____1988 P.J. O’Rourke. "Holidays in Hell." Travel writing turned upside-down. "When the kid in the front row at the rally bit off the tip of his little finger and wrote, KIM DAE JUNG, in blood on his fancy white ski jacket--I think that was the first time I ever really felt like a foreign correspondent. I mean, here was something really fucking foreign." (Mary Sisson)

____1988 Don Barlett and James B. Steele. "The Great Tax Giveaway" series for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Won the Pulitzer for national reporting. (Gene Roberts)

____1988 Taylor Branch. "Parting the Waters." The history of the civil-rights struggle is all here, and more. (Madeleine Blais)

____1988 Neil Sheehan. "A Bright Shining Lie." Sheehan brilliantly reconstructs the tragic life of one of the most illuminating figures of the Vietnam War, and in the process exposes--through the medium of a powerfully narrated story--many of the most basic problems and issues of that war. Sheehan’s book is, of course, of historical importance, but it is at heart a work of journalism, derived largely from Sheehan’s own experiences in Vietnam and from extensive interviews with others. (Alan Brinkley)

____1988 David Remnick. "In Spitak, Survivors Comb Ruins of Devastated Town." News reporting for the Washington Post. (Gene Roberts)

____1989 Thomas Friedman. "From Beirut to Jerusalem." (Mitchell Stephens)

____1989 Ian Frazier. "Great Plains." Frazier’s profile of a much-traveled-over piece of America makes quirkiness into an art form. (Ben Yagoda)

____1989 Marlon Riggs. "Tongues Untied." Deliberately scadalous symphony of revelation about a gay black man. Inventive and funny. (Todd Gitlin)

____1989 Time. "The Endangered Earth" issue. A variation of Time’s traditional Man of the Year. Dramatically presented, it offered a troubling diagnosis of the planet’s environmental condition. (Barrett Seaman)

____1990 Timothy Garton Ash. "The Magic Lantern." Reports on the velvet revolutions in Prague and Eastern Europe for the New York Review of Books. This book collects the best of those pieces. One of the decisive dates of the century, the year 1989, is brilliantly chronicled here. (Jay Rosen)

____1991 Peter Arnett. Coverage of Persian Gulf War. His coverage from Baghdad provided viewers with material from the other side of the war--a rare event in most combats. He kept information flowing despite facing censorship. (Christopher Harper)

____1991 Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele. Philadelphia Inquirer series: "America: What Went Wrong." Grass roots economics. Paper prints 400,000 extra copies. (Mitchell Stephens)

____1991 Melissa Fay Greene. "Praying for Sheetrock." A brilliantly executed look at racism and justice delayed, justice denied in the South with a beautifully rendered sense of place. (Madeleine Blais)

____1991 Nicholas Lemann. "The Promised Land." Like "Common Ground," from which it probably drew considerable inspiration, Lemann’s book is a monumental study of a part of American life that few of even the most intrepid journalists choose to examine. It looks squarely and courageously at the lives of several desperately poor families in one of the nation’s most degraded communities. Lemann lived and worked with these people for many months, under conditions that few other reporters would consider enduring. And his findings, controversial though some of them are, give us the most vivid picture available to a non-scholarly audience of how the so-called underclass emerged and how they live. There is, of course, a more conventionally historical section of the book--the story of the emergence of the Great Society, but it is the re-creation of the lives of the inner-city poor that makes this such an important work. (Alan Brinkley)

____1992 Norman McLean. "Young Men and Fire." Perhaps the greatest opening paragraph in all of modern non-fiction. And unforgettable, when the elderly McLean struggles up the steep sides of the Mann Gulch trying to imagine what was in the minds of the smokejumpers as they raced against the flames behind them 50 years earlier. (Madeleine Blais)

____1992 Maria Henson. "To Have and to Harm, Kentucky’s Failure to Protect Women From the Men who Beat Them" editorials. The Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader editorials led to an increased awareness of wife beating and to the passage of new laws that protected victims and opened files of domestic violence complaints, and other advances. (David Mindich)

____1992 Richard Ben Cramer. "What It Takes: The Road to the White House." (Gene Roberts) A virtuoso account of seven candidates’ attempts to win the presidency in 1988. Not your father’s Teddy White. (Ben Yagoda)

____1992 Joseph Mitchell. "Up at the Old Hotel." (Collection of much older pieces.) Quirky, eccentric, and oddly joyous, this series of portraits of New York City at midcentury and its inhabitants celebrates the extraordinary in the lives of the ordinary people. (Madeleine Blais)

____1992 Mike Toner. "When Bugs Fight Back." Articles on drug-resistant diseases and pesticide resistant insects for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The articles by Toner helped to create the awareness that pesticides and antibiotics have become less and less effective as insects and infections have built up resistance. William L. Roper, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, wrote "These articles are comprehensive, accurate and serve as an effective alert to a growing public-health problem." (David Mindich)

____1992 Bill Buford. "Among the Thugs." A fascinating look at soccer hooliganism in the UK and, more broadly, the society of men and male violence. A great piece of intellectual journalism--Hunter Thompson meets Susan Sontag, if an analogy is required. (Lamar Graham)

____1993 David Remnick. "Lenin’s Tomb." (Gene Roberts)

____1993 Roy Guman. Reporting on Serbian concentration camps. Newsday’s chief European correspondent was the first journalist to report in depth on the Serbian concentration camps in the former Yugoslavia. (David Mindich)

____1993 Eileen Welsome. "America’s Atomic Victims" and "The Plutonium Experiment" series for the Albuquerque Tribune. Reports on the secret U. S. experiments with plutonium that introduced to the public to what Energy Secretary Hazel O’Leary called the "darkest side" of the Cold War: government-sanctioned experiments with radioactive substances on U.S. citizens. Welsome’s work pushed the Department of Energy to release documents, and President Clinton convened a special meeting of federal agencies involved in radiation experiments. (David Mindich)

____1993 C. Carr. "On Edge." A collection of her VillageVoice pieces on performance art (broadly conceived), sexually "deviant" and sacrilegious art, art that messes with the boundaries of race and other cultural categories, and the political controversies surrounding all this work. On one level, an extended meditation on that vexed question, what is art, and the emerging corollary question, what is criticism; on another, a powerful argument about what’s at stake in what she calls the "war on art." Best body of journalism extant on these subjects. A convincing answer to Arlene Croce’s claim that art of the Bill T Jones ilk is not amenable to criticism, written before Croce made it. (Ellen Wilis)

____1994 Rick Bragg. "The Serial Diner." Appeared in the New York Times. (Gene Roberts)

____1994 Rick Bragg. Account for the New York Times of a tornado demolishing a rural church during Sunday services. (Gene Roberts)

____1994 Steve James, Fred Marx and Peter Gilbert. "Hoop Dreams." This documentary follows two aspiring basketball-playing inner-city youths from high school to college. Great insight into what helps and what prevents these young men from succeeding. (Marcia Rock)

____1994 Tom Junod. "The Abortionist." Possibly the best magazine piece I’ve read in at least a decade. Won GQ the National Magazine Award. Three of the principals in the piece were shot (two mortally) by anti-abortionists a month after the story came out. (Lamar Graham)

____1994 Mikal Gilmore. "Shot in the Heart." Both as a companion piece to "The Executioner’s Song" and as a work on its own, this is a lyrical, brooding meditation on a hardscrabble, deeply American family which, if described as merely dysfunctional, would take it as a compliment. It goes a long way to explaining, though not excusing, the roots of criminality in a culture that seems to take delight in exacerbating antisocial tendancies. (Madeleine Blais)

____1994 The Akron Beacon Journal. "A Question of Color" series of extended reports on race relations. The newspaper devoted 29 reporters, photographers, artists, and editors for the better part of the year to a series of articles about race relations. The series examined many aspects of race relations within Akron and in the nation in general. A newspaper-sponsored effort, called "Coming Together," initiated dialogue between the races in the Akron area and has become a model for "public" journalism. (David Mindich)

____1995 Rick Bragg. "All She Has, $150,000, Is Going to a University." Appeared in the New York Times. (Gene Roberts)

____1995 Jonathan Harr. "A Civil Action." This is a compelling legal drama about a battle between bereaved parents and the corporations whose pollution may have killed their children. Few accounts have captured the drama and inner workings of the legal system as well. It is assigned reading in many law schools. (Stephen Solomon)

____1996 Frank McCourt. "Angela’s Ashes." The immigrant’s experience in reverse, this work reinvents the uses and possibilities of voice. A kind of odd miracle occurs when reading this book: although almost none of the particulars of this man’s life apply to the reader, it feels in the end as if they all do. (Madeleine Blais)

____1996 Leon Gast. "When We Were Kings." Documentary on Mohammed Ali. (Marcia Rock)

____1996 James Carroll. "An American Requiem: God, My Father and the War that Came Between Us." Using his own biography as the son of a brigadier general and as a pacifist ex-priest, Carroll brings the war home, transcending the pitfalls of memoir and creating a universal story out of his experience. (Madeleine Blais)

____1997 Joseph Dorman. "Arguing the World." New York intellectuals Irving Howe, Irving Kristol, Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer. The only documentary I’ve ever seen that shows intellectual life as something interesting. (Todd Gitlin)

____1997 Alan Berliner. "Nobody’s Business." A graceful study of family and memory mainly through a superb interview with Berliner’s father. Emmy 1998. Generations collide as Berliner drags his reluctant father kicking and screaming down memory lane to probe the swirl of conflicts and affections that bind every family. What emerges is a stunningly rich portrait that finds both humor and pathos in Berliner’s obsession with boundaries of personal and collective memory. (Marcia Rock)

____1998 David Halberstam. "The Children." (Pamela Newkirk)