By Jacqui BanaszynskiIn a companion piece, the bots channeled you, the Storyboard readers, to identify the top posts, by pageview, in 2023. It’s a strong list, and offers stories you can learn from again and again.
Now I claim the editor’s prerogative with my own highlights from the year. My criteria is purely subjective, as most things are. My picks are not intended as any sort of “best of” list. Rather they are a sampling of Storyboard pieces that wowed me with the generosity and wisdom of the featured journalist, delighted me with the writer’s voice or some surprising insight, and reminded me how hard journalists work to get the facts right. Some were posts that sparked appreciative emails, which is an analytic I trust as much as I do the bot algorithms. Each and together, they represent the kind of work that continues to make Storyboard a valuable place for storytellers and story readers of all stripes to hang out.
Here they are, with numbers for style consistency but in no ranking of recommendations:
- A profile of rival athletic greats becomes an exploration of a great friendship: An expert analysis of the masterful work in the profile, by Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post, of the rare friendship between tennis superstars Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. This post paired with a Q&A of Jenkins about how she landed and guided a deeply intimate interview with the women.
- Reporting past the black-and-white politics of school book bans: As part of The Washington Post’s “School Book Wars” series, Hannah Natanson annotated her profile of a high school teacher whose students protested reading “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The annotation probes how she reported beyond the usual conflict frames.
- Embedded war reporting with courage and common sense: Almost two years of grinding war in Urkaine and the new crisis in Gaza have led news reports with rising casualty counts, including dozens of the journalists who dare to cover that news. Luke Mogelson of The New Yorker annotated his front-line reporting from a trench in Ukraine, offering boots-on-the-ground wisdom.
- Jennifer Senior follows a personal trail to undo the erasure of her disabled aunt: Jennifer Senior won both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Magazine Award. Now writing for The Atlantic, she worked with Storyboard to annotate a story tracking her journey through 70 years of America’s erratic treatment of people with mental disabilities.
- Challenging the stereotype of Uvalde’s plucky child survivor: The fast-turn media loves the romance of the valiant child who rises above trauma. Washington Post reporter Jon Woodrow Cox took six years of experience covering gun violence to Uvalde, Texas, for a more nuanced and honest profile of a young girl portrayed as the poster child of resilience.
- Nonfiction author Kim Cross breaks down how to sell a book proposal: Cross revealed how she worked through eight years and multiple rejections to bring a book project to publication. In a companion piece, she annotated the book proposal that landed the contract.
- “Star Trek” as a guide to sharing intimate, personal details: A neuroscience researcher who struggles with ethical boundaries in journalism and personal essays finds a model that finds unlikely wisdom in pop culture. (Editor’s note: Never underestimate the wisdom of “Star Trek.”)
- The (should-be-easy) interview a veteran interviewer couldn’t bring himself to do: Michael Ollove spent four decades at the Baltimore Sun reporting the hardest moments of news. In a funny, comforting essay, he confessed how he tanked when it came time to interview a famous celebrity writer.
- “Are you writing this down?”: A veteran newspaper reporter and editor joined a collaborative start-up online site that was struggling to gauge its value to the community. She captured a serendipitous moment with an 11-year-old that reminded her of the value of journalism that reflects that community.
- The real “talent” behind great writing? Passion and practice: A not-so-long ago magazine writer and editor challenged the idea that some people are born writers in an essay about the work that makes the art.