Thursday, August 08, 2013

Great newspaper writing - from the Tampa Bay Times, New York Times & San Francisco Chronicle

There's been a number of newspaper stories I've seen recently that struck me as outstanding works to note here, with two of them from the New York Times, two from the Tampa Bay Times (including a three-part series) and one from the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Times pieces were both short ones with "Where Heaven and Earth Come Closer" by Eric Weiner from March 2012 and "A Sea Change for the America’s Cup" by Warren St. John published last week. The story by Weiner was a lovely one that brought to mind his 2011 book Man Seeks God and about the idea of "thin places", those spots (sometimes sacred or otherwise religious, sometimes not) in the world that as Weiner writes "transform us - or, more accurately, unmask us. In thin places, we become our more essential selves." The piece by St. John may not have been as profound, but was an interesting one in part because of the author himself. After reading his 2004 book Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer on time traveling with Alabama football fans, I was happy to see his byline in the story, as well as learn about his Outcasts United: The Story of a Refugee Soccer Team That Changed a Town, published in 2009.

The features for the Tampa Bay Times included three from December 2012 that fell under the series title "Never Let Go". Written by Kelley Benham, the pieces are about the premature birth of her daughter and riveting work on the medical choices and struggles for all involved when a child born four months early. With a decidedly different flavor, the other Tampa Bay Times piece to note here was by Lane DeGregory in July of this year. "At 99, a St. Petersburg man finds meaning in the working life" was about Newton Murray and a piece to make one feel good about both Murray and the Bama Sea Products company he works for.

Finally, also from July of this year and posted to one of the San Francisco Chronicle's blogs was "Man acquitted in romantic bear-spray squabble". Written by Will Kane, it's a short, rollicking and immensely entertaining read that begins with "A San Francisco man was acquitted Thursday of breaking into his ex-fiancée’s house and assaulting her new lover before getting sprayed with bear mace by a shirtless neighbor."