Protesters march down 5th Avenue in New York City in anti-police brutality demonstrations on June 10, 2020. David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Extraordinary Reporting and Excellent Writing: The Best Journalism of 2020

Choosing the best pieces of journalism I read during the year is very challenging. Though I read so many more, the sixty pieces I include here were the most memorable. Given the nature of this year, many of the pieces are difficult to read, but due to the excellence of the writing and the emotions they evoke, they’re very much worth reading. So give them a try, even the intense ones. I love journalism — especially long form pieces — and enjoy celebrating it by publishing this because the writer tells a story about an interesting event or person or sometimes tells a deeply personal essay. And we all love a good story.

In 2020, we had two events which captured the attention of the American people and reporters — Covid-19 and protests over racial injustice and police brutality — in a way a story has not done in a long time. Because of that, I have a list of coronavirus stories, a list of stories about the protests and racial injustice, and a third list in which the focus of the story is either not at all related to or not just singularly on those events.

Racial injustice and anti-police brutality stories:

  • Though Ahmaud Arbery was not killed by cops, Arbery’s execution was covered up for months. This piece by David Dennis Jr. at Atlanta Magazine is a beautiful tribute to Ahmaud Arbery. (disclaimer: this story uses a quote from one of Arbery’s killers which includes the N-word).
From left: Selwyn Jones; Jacob Blake III; Michael Brown Sr. Photos by Awol Erizku.
  • With detailed maps visualizing where and how many protests occurred from late May through June 9, The New York Times shows us how Black Lives Matter reached every corner of America.
Jesse Ugstad and his mother, Marcy, in their lakeside Minnesota home. (Dan Koeck / For The Times)

Coronavirus stories:

  • A harrowing story from the Washington Post: a 70 year old mother figured she was most at risk to get coronavirus. But when her son got it, all she could do was stand by for word about his recovery or death — from 760 miles away.
(Salwan Georges /Washington Post)
(Photograph by Win McNamee / Getty)
  • A talented team at ProPublica investigated the fall of the CDC — How the world’s greatest public health organization was brought to its knees by a virus, the president and the capitulation of its own leaders, causing damage that could last much longer than the coronavirus.

The rest of the memorable stories I read:

Illustrations by Kagan McLeod
  • A powerful essay by former NBA player Ben Gordon about dealing with mental illness. (Warning: This essay contains strong language about suicide and suicidal thoughts.)
Jamie Margolin in her bedroom. Holly Andres for The New York Times.
  • In his 30-year career, The Independent’s Chief US Correspondent Andrew Buncombe has filed dispatches from across the world. In July, while reporting on protests in Seattle, he was arrested for the first time. This first person story is about more than his indefensible arrest. It’s also about how Seattle jails didn’t adequately protect people from coronavirus risks and how Seattle police intimidate and threaten people with impunity.
Illustration by Klawe Rzeczy
  • The New York Times profiled Evan Brandt, who is essentially the last reporter for The Mercury, a newspaper in a small Pennsylvania town. The Mercury was once a thriving newspaper with a large newsroom, but under Alden Global Capital hedge fund it has been greatly diminished. But Brandt won’t stop chronicling his small town, and he had one question for his rich boss.
  • Via The Ringer’s Ben Lindbergh: In 2017, the Times dissolved its copy desk, possibly permitting more typos to slip through. This is a interesting story about the anonymous lawyer who’s correcting The New York Times one untactful tweet at a time.
Photo by Caroline Tompkins for Elle.
  • Via The Marshall Project: A family opted to meet their mother’s killer, a process known has restorative justice. But then tragedy struck again.

OC native & 2020 graduate from CSUF with a BA in Political Science. This is a place to read about TV, sports, politics/elections, and Supreme Court cases.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store