This week, International Women’s Day really grabbed the spotlight with the Day Without a Woman protests and homages to role models on social media (shout-out to Nieman Lab’s great Instagram posts on inspirational women journalists). But the crowds weren’t as large as expected, and as Margaret Sullivan points out below, women need to get a bigger seat at the newsroom leadership table. How about making that a priority the other 364 days of the year?
Bernt Jakob Oksnes and “The Baby in the Plastic Bag.” I’m so impressed that the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet not only was patient enough to let reporter Bernt Jakob Oksnes spend more than two years on this project about a baby left for dead in an Oslo cemetery, it showed its commitment by running it in a nine-part serial over several weeks. Take that, short-attention-span journalism! And it paid off for the paper, in an outpouring of new subscribers and more than 1 million unique online users – which translates to a stunning 20% of the country’s population. This deserves the title “Notable Narrative.”
The soundtrack: “Goodnight Little Arlo (Goodnight Little Darlin’),” by Woody Guthrie. This simple lullaby Guthrie wrote for his son has such sweetness and love. I could imagine the mother singing it to her son after their reunion.
“Hazel Morse was a large, fair woman of the type that incites some men when they use the word ‘blonde’ to click their tongues and wag their heads roguishly.”
Dorothy Parker, “Big Blonde.” Read why we think it’s great here.
Jesse Lenz and The Collective Quarterly magazine. We’ve got a Slow Journalism vibe going on this week on Storyboard. First, the nine-part serial in Norway, and in this “5(ish) Questions” post, contributor Don Bartletti talked to Jesse Lenz and Seth Putnam, who met on the not-exactly-slow site Instagram four years ago and launched the magazine Collective Quarterly soon after. Their aim is to create an outlet for journalists who are willing to take their time and, as Lenz says, “show genuine interest in another human being.” The photos are gorgeous, with an edge.
The soundtrack: “Go Slow,” by Haim. I remember seeing the sisters who make up this band at a “secret” show for the Killers in L.A. The indie crowd loved that they were fans too.
What I’m reading online: Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan pointed out on International Women’s Day that women hold far fewer top jobs at newspapers today than a decade ago (citing a Nieman Reports study, so a second shout-out to a Nieman sister site in this newsletter).
In a similar vein, thanks to Longreads for pointing out this year-old interview with the “9 to 5” screenwriter, Patricia Resnick. In the piece, which rightly points out that the movie is still radical today, Resnick says of feminism, “There does seem to be a lot of sentiment in this country, in one of our political parties, that seems to be trying to undo what little we’ve been able to do.”
Finally, I loved this Vulture interview with David Letterman, looking quite stylin’ in his white beard after the initial shock wears off. His near-manic answers about Trump and the role of comedy as protest made me miss his grumpy-smart-uncle cleverness.
What’s on my bedside table: When I flew back from Madrid through Heathrow this week, I deliberately scheduled a three-hour layover so I could buy some British authors at the airport bookstore. A French air controllers strike put paid to that, but I was determined to buy at least one book. I hope it was worth almost missing my flight to lunge for Zadie Smith’s new one, “Swing Time.” She’s never disappointed, although a prologue revolving around the heavy burden of fame gives me slight pause. Like when singers (that would be you, Van Morrison) write about evil record-label honchos instead of real-world concerns we can connect with.
What’s on my turntable: Although I spend most of my time listening to music on Spotify, sometimes I want to hear the needle touching down on vinyl. This week’s vinyl: “The Flying Burrito Bros.” This is the first album after Gram Parsons left the band, and his absence is felt. It’s still twangy country rock, with the great Sneaky Pete Kleinow on pedal steel guitar, but without the beautiful vulnerability of Gram’s voice, the music lacks soul. The new singer went on to the eminently forgettable band Firefall, so that helps explain it. (But I do feel for him that he had a hard act to follow.)
If you want to chat about storytelling (or music), you can reach me at email@example.com. Or you can find me at @karihow on Twitter.