Jealousy

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At Bloomberg Businessweek, no year would be complete without a round of solemn introspection: How did we fail? And so, as if 2020 wasn’t bad enough, we present the annual Bloomberg Businessweek year-end Jealousy List. The task to the magazine’s staff and our many contributors in the Bloomberg newsroom is always an agonizing one: Swallow your pride and acknowledge a job well done, begrudgingly if need be, by someone else. So, congratulations to those on this year’s list. You managed to make 2020 even worse for us. —The Editors

Check out our previous Jealousy Lists: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015

Max Abelson, reporter, Bloomberg News @maxabelson

The Literature of White Liberalism from Boston Review

A good article always makes me want to be a better writer, but Melissa Phruksachart’s piece makes me want to be a sharper reader. Her examination of anti-racist literature, one of the publishing industry’s big phenomena this year, is sweeping and startling.

Jim Aley, features editor, Bloomberg Businessweek @jimaley

This Week In Virology from TWiV

Nothing has taught me more about—and helped me stay sane during—the pandemic than “This Week In Virology.” It’s a wonderful, informative, and unapologetically nerdy podcast hosted by the disarmingly cantankerous Vincent Racaniello and a rotating cast of Ph.D.s, MDs, and MD-Ph.D.s whose enthusiasm and curiosity are (sorry) infectious.

Ari Altstedter, reporter, Bloomberg News @aaltsted

It Will Take More Than a Vaccine to Beat Covid-19 from The New Yorker

He writes like this, and he’s a doctor? That’s reason to be jealous enough. But Dhruv Khullar’s piece also stands out for the way it mines the history of past pandemics to come up with lessons about this one that, unusual in this fast moving year, still feel relevant months after publication.

Drew Armstrong, senior editor, Bloomberg News @ArmstrongDrew

Why the Coronavirus Has Been So Successful from The Atlantic

Published on my birthday as some kind of brutal present, the opening description by Ed Yong of how SARS-CoV-2 works at the molecular level remains my benchmark for clear-eyed, biology-as-character science writing in the pandemic.

Stephanie Baker, reporter, Bloomberg News @StephaniBaker

How Two British Orthodontists Became Celebrities to Incels from The New York Times Magazine

As a long-time American expat in London, I’ve been fascinated by the stereotype—mostly false—of bad British dentists. I found myself hooked by this tale of these renegade orthodontists who argue that the industrial revolution and bad dentistry have made human jaws grow smaller, leading to crooked teeth and breathing problems.

Shelly Banjo, reporter, Bloomberg News @sbanjo

A Nameless Hiker and the Case the Internet Can’t Crack from Wired

I flew through this story like it was a trashy mystery novel on an airplane. But it also points to this larger point in tech, surveillance, and life right now, which is that with everything being tracked, monitored, and watched, how the heck did someone truly drop off the grid? And why?

Drake Bennett, reporter, Bloomberg News @drakepbennett

The Internet of Beefs from Ribbonfarm

A mordant examination of human behavior on social media and its pervasive and toxic bloodlust. The Internet of Beefs is “an unflattened Hobbesian honor-society conflict with a feudal structure” where “charismatic celebrity knights”—none bigger than the outgoing president—lead armies of anonymous “mooks.” The piece reads like brilliant satire. The fact that it’s not is depressing, of course. In Venkatesh Rao’s hands, it’s also hilarious.

Susan Berfield, senior reporter, Bloomberg News @susanberfield

What Happened in Room 10? from The California Sunday Magazine

This is a masterful, beautiful, heartbreaking, and provocative story. Katie Engelhart starts with a close and harrowing account of the two women in Room 10 of the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., during the first weeks of the Covid pandemic. From there she moves confidently to dissect the business of nursing homes. Life Care is the biggest privately owned long-term care corporation in the country, its owner a billionaire. The lobbying for deregulation, the Medicare fraud, the fear of litigation, the many ways in which facilities fall short—all are explained with a light touch. She ends with a meditation on aging. What more could we want from a story?

Mark Bergen, reporter, Bloomberg News @mhbergen

Facebook Won’t Remove This Woman’s Butthole As A Business Page from BuzzFeed News

The internet is strange. No one catalogs this strangeness quite like Katie Notopoulos. Consider her story on a woman who found that Google searches for her name produced this dreadful Facebook listing. It’s a darkly comic tale of algorithms gone awry, reported in straight, impactful fashion. After publication, Facebook removed the page.

Bob Blau, executive editor, Bloomberg News

Puppy Love Triangle from This American Life

Emily Flake’s multilayered and poetic account of the foibles and inexorable complications of young love was as well-written as it was spoken in this keep-your-butt-in-the-car radio piece.

Joshua Brustein, reporter, Bloomberg News @joshuabrustein

DoorDash and Pizza Arbitrage from Margins

Is there a better way to explain the farcical food delivery industry than with a stunt involving your friend, the pizza shop owner? No. No, there isn’t.

Thomas Buckley, reporter, Bloomberg News @tgbuckley

Her Search For Enlightenment Fueled WeWork’s Collapse from Bustle

Almost all reporting on the fall of WeWork, an erstwhile darling of Silicon Valley, focuses on the drug use, megalomania, and guitar-shaped homes of founder Adam Neumann. Bustle’s profile of his wife, who’s shown to have shared in much of his incompetence and narcissism, widens the net of culprits.

Matthew Campbell, reporter, Bloomberg News @MattCampbell

The Mysterious Lawyer X from The California Sunday Magazine

Australian true crime is not a genre I’ve been much exposed to. But this jaw-dropping story by Evan Ratliff, about the double life of one of Melbourne’s most prolific criminal lawyers, is evidence that the world needs a lot more of it.

Austin Carr, reporter, Bloomberg News @AustinCarr

The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It from The New York Times

How did we all overlook the Peter Thiel-funded startup providing facial-recognition technology to hundreds of law-enforcement agencies based on billions of photos scraped from Facebook and Twitter? Kashmir Hill profiles Clearview AI, which, in a dystopian twist, even begins monitoring her via their app as she reports on the cagey company.

Olivia Carville, reporter, Bloomberg News @livcarville

How One Rental Startup Gamed Airbnb from The Information

The Information’s deep-dive into the short-term rental startup Domio explored how it used questionable business practices (like fake host accounts) and flouted rental laws—all while riding on Airbnb’s coattails. After publication, the startup failed to raise additional capital and is now likely shutting down.

Nacha Cattan, Mexico bureau chief, Bloomberg News @nncattan

Hidden Toll: Mexico Ignored Wave of Coronavirus Deaths in Capital from The New York Times

We had been trying to report on Mexico’s uncounted Covid-19 death toll for weeks. We were among the first to find severe under-testing, and report acute respiratory illnesses surged well above official virus data. Then the New York Times discovered Mexico City had three times the fatalities it publicly acknowledged. The government denied the investigation for weeks, but later admitted it.

Max Chafkin, features editor, Bloomberg Businessweek @chafkin

The Wildest Insurance Fraud Scheme Texas Has Ever Seen from Texas Monthly

I oversee Bloomberg Businessweek’s Heist issue, and one of the challenges is finding crime yarns that somehow transcend their material. Ideally, a good Heist story should say something about the world, or our shared humanity, or the tendency of certain husbands of Real Housewives cast members to be criminally charged. That’s why I loved Katy Vine’s look at an arson investigation in Athens, Texas, which unspools into a story about self-creation and personal myth-making by way of a profile of the perpetrator and his James Bond persona. “He never planned to be an international arms dealer,” Vine writes. “The sales just snowballed.”

Howard Chua-Eoan, news editor, Bloomberg Businessweek @hchuaeoan

Consider the Hare from The London Review of Books

Katherine Rundell’s entire “Consider the...” series in the London Review of Books is enchanting, and this installment is particularly so. Each essay explores the magical, biological, literary, historical, and economic lives of animals. I also recommend her others on the giraffe, the Greenland shark, the hermit crab, and the hedgehog.

Peter Coy, economics editor, Bloomberg Businessweek @petercoy

Experts search for answers in limited information about mystery pneumonia outbreak in China from STAT

STAT senior writer Helen Branswell had her antennae up on Jan. 4, when she devoted 1,345 words to a story speculating that a respiratory illness in Wuhan, China, might have been caused by a coronavirus that jumped from animals to people. STAT, published by Boston Globe Media, has become must-reading in the pandemic.

Esmé E. Deprez, reporter, Bloomberg News @esmedeprez

The Black American Amputation Epidemic from ProPublica

The rate of amputations—by one measure, the most preventable surgery in the country—rose by 50% from 2009 to 2015. Black patients lose limbs at a rate triple that of others. These are just some of the staggering statistics revealed in this staggering story, a sweeping and intimate portrait of the devastating impacts of racism, poverty, and our insanely short-sighted health-care system. It will leave you furious at what’s happening and grateful for the people, like the physician at the heart of the story, devoting their lives to forcing change.

Shawn Donnan, senior writer, Bloomberg News @sdonnan

An American Writer for an Age of Division from The New Yorker

This very good September New Yorker profile of Ayad Akhtar prompted one of those moments: When presented with the polymath ways of a contemporary, you go through a bout of self-loathing about all the things you haven’t done during this pandemic. Why didn’t I learn a language? Write a novel? Direct a play via Zoom? Do a deep study of any one of the classics? When I finished the article, I opened up the Amazon app to order Akhtar’s new book, Homeland Elegies. Now I just feel guilty that I haven’t read it yet.

Josh Eidelson, reporter, Bloomberg News @josheidelson

Smithfield Foods Is Blaming “Living Circumstances In Certain Cultures” For One Of America’s Largest COVID-19 Clusters from BuzzFeed News

One of the nation’s biggest coronavirus clusters was at Smithfield Foods’ South Dakota pork plant, whose workforce had over 700 infections. Employees blame such management choices as withholding information, refusing to close, and dangling a $500 bonus for perfect attendance. The company’s explanation, as Albert Samaha and Katie J.M. Baker report in this devastating Buzzfeed investigation, is that the plant’s “large immigrant population,” with different “living circumstances” than “your traditional American family,” makes it tough to say “what could have been done differently.”

Hannah Elliott, auto reporter, Bloomberg Pursuits @HannahElliott

Free Britney from Jezebel

It’s a complete rundown of how Britney Spears was made, destroyed and then (maybe) imprisoned by the pop music cultural complex/the expectations and entitlement of men, as told by a writer who is also from the poor, rural south and who was also a beauty queen. I’m jealous because Emily Alford has pulled off a riveting read that deals with a subject often treated shallowly but which indicates a great deal of the values, morals, and current status of American life. She killed it.

Justin Fox, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion @foxjust

How Bad Is the Coronavirus? from Medium

A Medium post by a Silicon Valley edu-tech executive is not the first place one looks for epidemiological insight. But in this and two subsequent March posts that reached a huge global audience, Tomas Pueyo created a masterpiece of scientific communication that painstakingly outlined both the uncertainties and the dangers that lay ahead.

Robert Friedman, senior editor, Bloomberg News @rfriedman305

The Great Climate Migration from The New York Times, ProPublica

ProPublica’s Abrahm Lustgarten is one of the best climate reporters in the U.S., and these two stories published in the New York Times Magazine show why. Starting with a Guatemalan climate refuge and ending in California, which was on fire when the second piece ran, Lustgarten paints a vivid picture of how climate change is reshaping migration patterns.

James Gaddy, deputy editor, Bloomberg Pursuits

The NYPD Files from ProPublica

So, just how many “bad apples” are there? After New York repealed a law this summer that kept the disciplinary records of the NYPD a secret, we have a working number: about 11%. ProPublica’s database lists nearly 4,000 officers out of its 36,000-person force who have had at least one substantiated allegation of misconduct—itself a tiny fraction of all complaints. Crucially, it’s searchable by name, badge number, and precinct, and is the sort of information a fair and equitable government should supply its citizens—not suppress.

Jason Gale, senior editor, Bloomberg News @jwgale

How the Pandemic Will End from The Atlantic

Ed Yong’s coverage of the pandemic has been brilliant, because of both his beautiful prose and depth of insight. I’m infinitely jealous of his talent—and this noteworthy example from March 25.

Eric Gelman, news editor, Bloomberg Businessweek @eag111

Yavne: A Jewish Case for Equality in Israel-Palestine from Jewish Currents

Peter Beinart, for me, is the best writer on the difficult relationship of American Jews to the state of Israel as it has come to be dominated by right-wing extremists. He takes on the problem that has resisted resolution for my entire lifetime and grapples with it thoughtfully and with empathy for both sides. His proposal in this essay may have no more chance of success than any other Mideast peace proposal has had, but it is well worth thinking about.

Mark Glassman, graphics editor, Bloomberg Businessweek @markglassman

60 Games Aren’t Enough To Crown The Best MLB Team. But Neither Are 162 Games. from FiveThirtyEight

The lockdown made just about everything worse, but FiveThirtyEight published a smart piece about one thing that wasn’t all that great to begin with: the odds that the best team in baseball would win the World Series.

Jillian Goodman, editor, Bloomberg Green @goodjillian

Heated from Heated

Week after week, newsletter after newsletter, Emily Atkin drives home the message that the climate crisis is something we should all be furious about. More than that, she provides a specific target for that fury: “the heads of our most polluting-corporations and the politicians who support them.” This year alone, she’s called out social media companies (and even the Washington Post) for profiting from climate denialism, the hypocrisy of corporations that shout their support for green policies while sotto voce giving money to climate deniers, and the links between toxic pollution and toxic masculinity.

Riley Griffin, health-care reporter, Bloomberg News @rileyraygriffin

Sin City: New York nightlife never stopped. It just moved underground. from The Cut, New York Magazine

I’m very jealous of this one. I have a list of bars—Common Ground, Grey Lady, Escondido—that are holding such underground events. Friends of friends say some even require negative Covid tests to enter. Alas, the vaccine news (and personal risk tolerance) doesn’t leave much time for club-hopping these days, but still, this is the one I wish I wrote.

Jordyn Holman, retail reporter, Bloomberg News @JordynJournals

Why Minneapolis Was the Breaking Point from The Atlantic

Americans in May woke up to the reality of police brutality against Black people following George Floyd’s killing. So why now? Wesley Lowery in the Atlantic answers that question by weaving together half a decade of reporting on Black Lives Matter. He gets to the heart of the nation’s struggle with racial equality and gives voice to the people moving the discussion forward.

Ellen Huet, tech reporter, Bloomberg News @ellenhuet

Investigation: I Think I Know Which Justice Flushed from Slate

Ashley Feinberg is a peerless internet detective. She famously unearthed lurker Twitter accounts for both Mitt Romney and James Comey. This spring, when a mysterious toilet flush interrupted a Supreme Court livestream, everyone joked about it on Twitter. But Feinberg analyzed the audio, to devastating conclusions.

Dana Hull, reporter, Bloomberg News @danahull

On Witness and Respair: A Personal Tragedy Followed by Pandemic from Vanity Fair

In a year defined by the twin pandemics of Covid-19 and racial injustice, I found myself reading a lot of personal essays about both. But no essay managed to capture this moment more skillfully than Jesmyn Ward’s deeply personal essay about losing her husband. A searing portrait of love, grief, and resilience, it has stayed with me more than anything else I’ve read in 2020. “One of my favorite places in the world was beside him, under his warm arm, the color of deep, dark river water,” wrote Ward, who lives in Mississippi. As protests erupt around the world over the murder by police of George Floyd, Ward is broken anew by the sight of so many people bearing witness and flooding the streets. “The people marched, and I had never known that there could be rivers such as this.”

Amanda Kolson Hurley, politics editor, Bloomberg Businessweek @amandakhurley

A scandal in Oxford: the curious case of the stolen gospel from The Guardian

It takes a lot of skill to make a field as arcane as papyrology—the study of surviving documents from the ancient world—into gripping literary journalism. Charlotte Higgins’s tale of papyrus fragments gone missing, an elusive Oxford don, and the murky antiquities trade was a highlight of my reading year.

Jeremy Keehn, features editor, Bloomberg Businessweek @jeremy_keehn

The Democracy Factory from The California Sunday Magazine

Many times, I asked myself what stories we could publish on the most consequential and plague-beset U.S. election of our lifetime. The one I most regret missing is this superbly timed dissection of the vote-by-mail industry—a fitting curtain call for Cal Sunday, a publication I’ll miss being jealous of.

Jason Kelly, chief correspondent, Quicktake @jasonkellynews

The Race to Investigate a Coronavirus Outbreak at a Georgia Prep School from The New Yorker

As we saw the pandemic ravage the nation and expose myriad inequalities, this piece by Charles Bethea hit so many notes and exposed how privilege and access and entitlement run rampant, even—or especially—in a crisis. I’m jealous of basically everything he writes about our shared hometown.

Silvia Killingsworth, managing editor, Bloomberg News @silviakillings

Inside the Flour Company Supplying America’s Sudden Baking Obsession from Marker

Though Bloomberg Businessweek had its own King Arthur Flour story just a month after this one, it’s always hard to see another publication get there first. From the detail that the specialists who answer the Baker’s hotline and the employees who take call-in orders saw the pandemic coming in the flour demand to how the company adjusted its packaging to accommodate producing more flour, this story was full of great reported detail about a microtrend (baking during the pandemic and the attendant flour shortage), as well as larger trends (the return of bread, the trusted “heritage” brand). Medium’s business publication, Marker, has consistently put out great analytical pieces about the intersection of business and branding throughout the pandemic, and this was one of the highlights.

Cynthia Koons, senior reporter, Bloomberg News @CynthiaLKoons

The Morgue Worker, the Body Bags and the Daffodils from The New York Times

This story stayed with me for months. It is both awe-inspiring and simple: a morgue worker taking the time to dignify those who’ve died with a flower. In the seemingly endless tragedy of coronavirus, stories like these serve as an important reminder of the humanity that exists in the world.

Anurag Kotoky, reporter, Bloomberg News @anuragkotoky

Collision from Fifty Two

The publication’s debut story revisits the worst-ever mid-air collision 24 years ago, and lays bare the complexities in managing giant metal tubes crowding the skies. The chilling story paints a graphic picture with words, showing the huge cost global aviation has paid to make flying safer: human lives.

Kate Krader, food editor, Bloomberg News @kkrader

Your Food Isn’t ‘Natural’ and It Never Will Be from Wired

At a moment when people are cooking at home more then ever—and there’s plenty of time to reflect on the concept of organic and all-natural ingredients—this story, excerpted from a book by Professor Benjamin R. Cohen, has the effect of a horror movie. Even the olives purchased from a store down the street (shop local!) turn out to have been blasted with green dye at some point, which turned a slow-cooked chicken dish into a green sludge stew that had to be thrown out.

Michael Leibel, social media editor, Bloomberg Businessweek @leibelmichael

An Oral History Of ‘Steamed Hams,’ the funniest ‘Simpsons’ scene ever recorded from Mel Magazine

One day, internet archaeologists will be able to find and retell the history of every popular meme. Until then, Mel Magazine’s insightful play-by-play (with writer interviews!) of the beloved 1996 Simpsons sketch will do.

Julia Leite, Brazil country chief, Bloomberg News @julialeite

Bunga Bunga from Wondery

The spectacular story of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi got the telling it deserved. This cheeky podcast goes back in time to show how a singer wannabe became a media mogul and, on a whim, an all-powerful politician. And then came the Bunga Bunga parties. It’s fun, outrageous, crazy, and loud—much like, it seems, the man himself.

Devin Leonard, reporter, Bloomberg News @devinleonard

The Students Left Behind by Remote Learning from The New Yorker

I wish I’d written this flawless piece concerning Shemar, a 12-year-old in East Baltimore who struggles with remote learning after the city’s teachers union shuts down local classrooms in the pandemic. Alec MacGillis depicts this as a misguided response to President Donald Trump’s school reopening call. Meanwhile, students like Shemar who have limited internet access and no one at home to help them master Zoom are the ones who suffer.

Cristina Lindblad, economics editor, Bloomberg Businessweek

The Race to Redesign Sugar from The New Yorker

In a year filled with much bitterness, one of the stories that stayed with me was about sweetness. Nicola Twilley introduces us to companies tinkering with sugar’s very molecular structure as part of an eternal quest to deliver sweetness with fewer calories.

Sarah McBride, tech reporter, Bloomberg News @mcbridesg

What is MasterClass Actually Selling? from The Atlantic

Writer Carina Chocano zoomed in on how the cleverest startups sell more than their actual products—here, dreams of success and fame. Even if you don’t care about pseudo-educational aspirations, read this one for trenchant observations on opportunity, venture capital, and a rare shovels-and-pickaxes analogy that doesn’t come across as clichéd.

Caleb Melby, reporter, Bloomberg News @CalebMelby

‘If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care.’ from News 12 Brooklyn, N.Y.

This explosive footage revealed Rep. Eliot Engel’s blithe disregard for his constituents and the historical moment, and spoke to a broadly held fear that our elected leaders simply don’t care. Reporting news with impact often requires months of digging. Sometimes you just need to turn on the mic. Engel lost his primary.

Tom Metcalf, finance editor, Bloomberg News @tommetcalf123

Wirecard and me: Dan McCrum on exposing a criminal enterprise from The Financial Times

The Financial Times’s five-years-in-the-making exposure of a German fintech fraud stands out to me. The reporting by Dan McCrum and his colleagues—in the face of repeated intimidation, surveillance, and criticism—is staggering. Even better, their eventual vindication makes it that rare 2020 story with a happy ending.

Jeff Muskus, features editor, Bloomberg Businessweek @JeffMuskus

A pandemic, a motel without power and a potentially terrifying glimpse of Orlando’s future from The Washington Post

This year, we’ve focused a lot of our reporting firepower on the consequences of big businesses underinvesting in the safety and economic stability of their workers and communities. Greg Jaffe’s sensitive, sensible, dollars-and-cents look at the abandoned motel residents of Kissimmee, Fla., provides a tough look at smaller businesses doing much the same thing. The exceptional photos, video, and web presentation underscore Jaffe’s urgent reminder of how many Americans have continued to struggle with the fallout from the last great economic collapse in 2008, having been left out of virtually all the upside in the many years since.

Naomi Nix, reporter, Bloomberg News @NaomiNixWrites

Think Debtors Prisons Are a Thing of the Past? Not in Mississippi from The Marshall Project

The role of money in our criminal justice system is often overlooked in stories about high-profile trials or unsolved mysteries. With poignant anecdotes and exhaustive data analysis, writers Anna Wolfe and Michelle Liu peel back the curtain on how the poor in Mississippi spend years in pseudo jails to pay off court-ordered debts.

Chris Nosenzo, creative director, Bloomberg Businessweek @nonsenzo

The Onion’s Instagram Page from The Onion

Pretty consistently the best source of on-the-nose news commentary and welcome counter-programming is the Onion’s Instagram feed. This one from May basically sums it all up. I know it’s fake and all, but the Onion is always the truthiest.

Thuy Ong, breaking news editor, Bloomberg News @ThuyOng

The Life Breonna Taylor Lived, In the Words of Her Mother from Vanity Fair

This is an essential read and an essential voice in the Black Lives Matter movement. A harrowing account about the night of Breonna’s death and her mother Tamika Palmer’s memories of her.

David Papadopoulos, managing editor, Bloomberg News @davidelgreco

How U.S. Policy Turned the Sonoran Desert Into a Graveyard for Migrants from The New York Times Magazine

Everything about the piece, from the art to the way the storyline was reverse-engineered, is brilliant. I’ve done a lot of immigration stories over the years, but nothing ever close to this. It’s a hauntingly beautiful piece.

Janet Paskin, editor, Bloomberg News @JPaskin

Dream Boy and the Poison Fans from NPR

I still can’t believe this episode of NPR’s Rough Translation, which looks at a particularly fascinating example of extreme fandom, celebrity, and internet censorship in China. Beijing correspondent Emily Feng traced the origins of a highly public celebrity boycott to find a fan community at war with itself over a piece of fan fiction—a schism that eventually attracted the attention of the Chinese authorities and tanked the celebrity’s career.

Gerald Porter Jr., reporter, Bloomberg News @geraldporterjr

A Korean Store Owner. A Black Employee. A Tense Neighborhood. from The New York Times

This story has been in plain sight for decades. The author navigates complex, deep-seated racial and economic chasms with nuance, all while highlighting each side’s truth without doing so at the expense of one person’s perspective. The tragic boiling point is palpable, a la Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.

Brett Pulley, Atlanta bureau chief, Bloomberg News @brettpulley

America’s Enduring Caste System from The New York Times

In an excerpt from her new book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson delves deep into our history as a country to reveal how centuries of proclaiming liberty and equality for all have been overshadowed by the intractable reality of racial hierarchy, so deeply instilled in the psyche of Americans that it infiltrates and guides our lives on a daily basis, and defines who we really are as a nation.

Saritha Rai, tech reporter, Bloomberg News @SarithaRai

A Maine Paper Mill’s Unexpected Savior: China from The New York Times

This lovely little tale with gong-tapping Buddhist monks, Trump fans and a Chinese “Chairlady” billionaire called the Queen of Trash made me covetous of the easy storytelling. The rebirth of a century-old paper mill in a dying Maine town is set against the backdrop of a fierce U.S.-China trade war.

Michael Regan, senior editor, Bloomberg News @Reganonymous

The Mystery of the Immaculate Concussion from GQ

Some stories are so riveting and cinematic, it’s easy to imagine a Hollywood producer Googling the author’s contact information before she even finishes reading it. That’s the case with this tale of a CIA officer and other U.S. agents and diplomats who have suffered from what are believed to be microwave weapons that attack the nervous system.

Pat Regnier, finance editor, Bloomberg Businessweek @patregnier

Land-grab universities from High Country News

Land-grant public universities in the U.S. are praised as engines of democracy and economic innovation. But even graduates of these schools can be a little fuzzy about what the land grant, instituted by Congress with the Morrill Act, actually was. It did not give schools land for their campuses. Rather, it was, as Robert Lee and Tristan Athone write, “a massive wealth transfer masquerading as a donation,” endowing universities with proceeds from the sale of land expropriated from tribal nations. This remarkable work of data reporting show how the wealth of America’s universities can be linked back to specific parcels of confiscated land. Reading this story and using its data tools will transform how you think of public universities, the wealth they’ve produced, and the unpaid debt they and their graduates owe to American Indians.

Shuli Ren, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion @shuli_ren

Why the Success of The New York Times May Be Bad News for Journalism from The New York Times

Ben Smith’s debut piece as the media columnist at the New York Times shows he is not shy about taking on even his employer. We are now worried about the outsized influence of Big Tech. But monopoly can exist everywhere, even in the declining print news industry. Smith mapped out the secret sauce of NYT’s success, and asked us: Are we prepared to consume from just one news source?

Peter Robison, reporter, Bloomberg News @therealrobison

What Happened to Val Kilmer? He’s Just Starting to Figure It Out. from The New York Times Magazine

There aren’t many who can describe like Taffy Brodesser-Akner, who writes of Kilmer’s distinctive Cupid’s bow laying “in shadow of the plump convex swoop of his upper lip.” And in her hands, the humble celebrity profile becomes a meditation on how art and optimism survive, even in a pandemic—or, for Kilmer, through throat cancer robbing him of voice and looks.

David Rocks, senior editor, Bloomberg News @RealDavidRocks

A room, a bar and a classroom: how the coronavirus is spread through the air from El Pais

How easily do virus-laden aerosols spread? The simple answer is “very easily,” but look here for details. This is the kind of useful info that publications should be serving up to readers in the Covid era.

Jeannette Rodrigues, Mumbai bureau chief, Bloomberg News

India’s Comfort Food Tells the Story of Its Pandemic from The Atlantic

OMG. The sheer, corroding envy I felt when I saw this story in the Atlantic. Such a beautifully told tale about a simple, inexpensive, much-loved cookie, and how it kept India running through the world’s strictest lockdown.

Eric Roston, sustainability editor, Bloomberg Green @eroston

Exclusive: GM, Ford knew about climate change 50 years ago from E&E News

Car companies’ in-house scientists documented in the 1960s that vehicle emissions were heating the world. The companies subsequently poured millions into campaigns to distort science, and only now are embracing gasoline alternatives. A key scientist charged GM with sexism; the company said it was “acutely aware of its responsibility.”

Alexander Shoukas, design director, Bloomberg Businessweek

The Beirut Port Explosion from Forensic Architecture

The didactic reconstruction of the Aug. 4 port explosion in Beirut by Forensic Architecture is another example of the organization’s incredible ability to turn seemingly loose eyewitness documentation into dutiful evidence through combination and detailed analysis. Every aspect of their productions point firmly toward clarity and understanding of the subject matter.

Michael Smith, reporter, Bloomberg News @SmithMarkets

How Chaos at Chain Pharmacies Is Putting Patients at Risk from The New York Times

This story showed how America’s giant drugstore chains have turned into vicious corporate sweatshops, with overworked pharmacists routinely making mistakes while dispensing medicines—costing lives. Published just before the pandemic struck, it laid bare the risks Americans take when they just need to get their prescriptions.

Amy Stillman, reporter, Bloomberg News @amystillman

US groups linked to COVID conspiracies pour millions of ‘dark money’ into Latin America from Open Democracy

Brazil and Mexico are in the top four countries for deaths from Covid-19. The policy of misinformation is devastating as the pandemic rages in the region, and is reminiscent of a long history of intervention by special U.S. interests.

Randy Thanthong-Knight, reporter, Bloomberg News @rtkwrites

Thirty-Six Thousand Feet Under the Sea from The New Yorker

This article takes you on an expedition to the bottom of the sea with Victor Vescovo, a private equity investor and undersea explorer. It’s as long and full of fascinating details as I imagine the trip down to the deepest point of the ocean would be.

Lynn Thomasson, Cross-assets team leader, Bloomberg News @LynnThomasson

The Poker-Playing Adult-Magazine Mogul Behind One of the Biggest Trading Competitions Is Back. from Institutional Investor

I love profiles about the eccentric characters in the world of investing, and this one ticks all the boxes. It’s a fun read about the man who started the United States Investing Championship, a year-long competition to see who can rack up the biggest returns. The prize for winning: bragging rights.

Peter Waldman, reporter, Bloomberg News

Emails: A week before Trump’s order protecting meat plants, industry sent draft language to feds from Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting has done outstanding work on meatpackers and Covid-19 all year. They organized a multi-organization public records request that yielded amazing detail about how meatpacking companies dictated Trump’s executive order keeping plants open. This is a newsy example of the penetrating investigative work they did all year on the topic.

Joel Weber, editor, Bloomberg Businessweek @joelwebershow

The World’s Best Bureaucrat from New York Magazine

At Bloomberg, few individuals are as important as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell—America’s quiet Superman this year. There wasn’t much in Josh Barro’s profile that I didn’t already know, but he had a sharp angle and wrote for the widest possible audience, which are genuine feats when you cover the Fed.

Caroline Winter, reporter, Bloomberg News @caro_winter

I Called Everyone In Jeffery Epstein’s Little Black Book from Mother Jones

I wouldn’t choose to write about the Epstein saga myself, but this piece is incredible. From his couch, and then from a public library where his voice bounces off the high marble ceilings “with embarrassing levels of clarity and volume,” Leland Nally makes nearly 2,000 calls. He speaks with everyone from ambassadors and billionaires to Boca Raton reflexologists and a 22-year-old aspiring music producer in Brooklyn who happens to have the old number of Muffie Potter, “the fourth-greatest socialite in history, according to Town and Country magazine.” Throughout, Nally manages to be both funny and indignant about the social system that allowed Epstein to elude consequences for so long. “It’s grifters grifting grifters all the way down,” he writes.

(Updates Michael Regan’s title and adds Amanda Hurley entry.)

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