Black-and-white photo of mountain peak

Another year, another trove of excellent journalism — so much that I’ve given up on keeping up. I take some comfort in that as our profession continues to struggle with issues of trust and solvency. The Storyboard mission is to explore the art and craft of story. The focus is primarily, but not exclusively, on nonfiction. My goal as editor is to expand the range of formats, sources, subject matter and contributors. (Pitch something, or raise your hand and I’ll find you a fun assignment.) At the same time, I want the collective to offer two primary things: tools and inspiration.

Below are the six posts that ranked top in 2021 in a matrix of analytics, compiled by Adriana Lacy, Nieman’s digital and audience engagement editor: Think of them as the Community Choice Awards. Before the new year, I’ll weigh in with the Editor’s Choice Awards. The analytics of that list are even less definable.

1- How a top explanatory reporter does emotional interviews: With empathy (Posted Sept. 29, 2021) Ed Yong of The Atlantic won a 2021 Pulitzer Prize for his clear-eyed, deeply reported coverage of COVID-19. In this post, he talked about how he approaches policy makers, technical experts, front-line medicare care workers and patients. By Kim Cross

2- Tracking shards of grief for 20 years, and daring to love your subjects Jennifer Senior, also of The Atlantic, combed through the ashes and aftermath of 9/11 to tell the story of how one man’s family grieved. She answered questions about gaining trust with sources, probing sensitive topics and crossing traditional boundaries. By Trevor Pyle

3- Literary Forensics: How to edit (and self-edit) from the inside out I drew on years of editing and teaching to help writers look at their own work with more clarity. I shared my diagnostic tool here. By Jacqui Banaszynski

4- Ernest Hemingway’s true and lasting writing lessons A long-time magazine editor and narrative writer pinged off a new Ken Burns documentary to share what he learned by reading Papa Hemingway. By Dale Keiger

5- How listening to foreign languages can enrich your writing An Indian-born author and essayist discovered that listening to stories from foreign cultures — even when she couldn’t understand the language — brought new depth to her own writing. By Shoba Narayan

6- Sage writing advice from the editor of Column One Steve Padilla of the Los Angeles Times led a virtual discussion on how he guides writers to high-end work, including how he uses music to explore story craft. By Madeline Bodin

Further Reading