Saturday, July 13, 2013

Great Newspaper writing - by Eli Saslow, Clay Tarver, Wil Hylton & Courtney Queeny

There's been some excellent pieces I've seen from newspapers over the past few weeks with really solid work both in the New York Times and Washington Post.

The most recent story I've read was actually the oldest one with "Craig Venter’s Bugs Might Save the World" done for the Times in May 2012. Written by Wil Hylton, it's a fascinating look at the biologist noted by Hylton (and in Venter's Wikipedia page) as being one of two people who first sequenced the human genome. Venter as a scientist working on cutting-edge stuff makes for a fairly complicated profile and Hylton did a good job making the piece eminently readable. In this regard the story reminded me of another scientist profile I wrote about and linked to in 2011, one by Tom Junod on biologist Eric Schadt.

The other two Times pieces I've seen recently which struck me as memorable were by Courtney Queeny and Clay Tarver respectively. "The View From the Victim Room" is Queeny's first-person account of an abusive relationship and just tremendous and highly personal writing. The Tarver story is a profile of former Nirvana and then Soundgarden bassist turned Army Special Forces solider Jason Everman. Titled "The Rock ’n’ Roll Casualty Who Became a War Hero", it's a remarkable tale that's recounted very well in the piece.

From the Washington Post last week was another great piece by Eli Saslow on a subject that seems as if it must have been painful to report on and witness firsthand. "In rural Tennessee, a new way to help hungry children: A bus turned bread truck" reminded me a great deal of Saslow's March story "Food stamps put Rhode Island town on monthly boom-and-bust cycle". Both pieces were sad for what they portray, and this latest story also made me think of how it easy it would be for many of the kids written about to just keep the cycle of poverty going when they become adults.