The Alternative History of 2013: Alt-Weeklies Year in Review

For our first-ever Alt-Weeklies Year in Review, we asked AAN editors and reporters to share the stories they are the most – and least – proud of from the past year. What follows is an edited version of their responses.

Kimberley Jones, Austin Chronicle
We’ve got not one but two big stories this year we’re awfully proud of. The first is a national story about a wrongful conviction: “Freedom for the Kellers.” Fran and Dan Keller were among hundreds of child-care workers across the nation who, in the Eighties and Nineties, were accused of being part of a network of Satan worshippers who abused children taken to day care. In 2008, the Chronicle began a reinvestigation of the case against the Kellers, and the work of the Chronicle – and most especially of staff writer Jordan Smith – has been directly instrumental in correcting a terrible and ongoing injustice.

Though The Austin Chronicle is still proudly a weekly print organization, we were able to flex our daily muscle this summer during the Texas legislature’s eleventh-hour attempts to pass House Bill 60 and Senate Bill 5, which sought to drastically restrict women’s access to reproductive care. Most of that maneuvering happened between print issues, but our news desk vigorously reported the events as they unfolded – online, on social media, and in photo galleries – even as we became part of the events we were reporting on, as when Sen. Wendy Davis, during her historic filibuster, read aloud in full an article by Chronicle investigative reporter Jordan Smith (for which Davis was issued her first warning on a point of order; apparently a story on the war on women’s health was considered off-topic during a debate on … the war on women’s health).

It was an electrifying week in Texas politics. As snapshots from that week, we offer contributing writer Dan Solomon’s three-part, first-person account from the Capitol (“Let Her Speak!,” “A Sunday at the Capitol,” and “A Victory by the People,”), Managing Editor Kimberley Jones’ post detailing how the paper adapted its cover image to the shifting news cycle, and News Editor Michael King’s column putting the week – what a week – in perspective.

Evan Serpick, Baltimore City Paper
The story I’m most proud of this year is Edward Ericson Jr’s cover story, “Justice Delayed.” Not only is it a phenomenal piece of reporting and writing on Ed’s part, but it is the culmination of a story that Ed has been doggedly covering since 2008. This case moved forward, justice was better served, and attention was properly given, as a result of Ed’s many stories on this case… He was asked to testify in court and did so.

Zach Hagadone, Boise Weekly
We published a great piece about an Idaho military family looking for answers in the wake of their daughter’s on-base suicide. Though the AP beat us to it in print, we had been working the story for the better part of a month. Still, our piece brought readers into the home of the Anderson family, and helped spur the U.S. Air Force to release documents related to the death of 19-year-old Kelsey Anderson-bringing the family some closure after nearly two years of unanswered questions:

I’m most proud of this piece for several reasons: first, the reporter caught wind of it doing old-fashioned reporting; simply digging through court documents looking for anything interesting. Second, we followed it wherever it went-including when it meant we had to send a reporter on an overnight trip to meet the family face-to-face. Third, the quality of the prose was stellar. Fourth, it actually helped bring about some action on the part of the Air Force. From beginning to end, I think this piece represents everything we should be striving to achieve as journalists.

Gwynedd Stuart, Chicago Reader
Our 2013 People Issue just came out last week and it’s pretty great. In the People Issue we select fascinating (but not famous) Chicagoans and ask them to tell their stories. This year we talked to a filmmaker on the verge of breaking out, a stand-up comedian with lots of tragedy in her past, a student at a struggling high school who might be the first in his family to go to college, and 16 more interesting people. This is the third such issue we’ve done, and they get better every year. The web layout for this year’s is pret-ty impressive: lots of beautiful photography, videos, audible quotes; it’s really attractive and a great example of what alts can do on the web.

Kevin Hoffman, City Pages (Twin Cities)
We’re most proud of this story, “How Ayahuasca Can Revolutionize Psychotherapy,” which was a national feature for Voice Media that also ran in L.A., Miami, and St. Louis.

Vince Grzegorek, Cleveland Scene
We’ve had an absolutely dynamite year, but if I had to pick a single story, it’d be this one by staff writer Sam Allard. The writing is beautiful, the subject – a stripclub bathroom attendant with a drug habit and stories for days, including a great one about George Brett – is lovable and troubled, and the whole thing is, for lack of a better description, entirely Cleveland. To wit: At one point, the subject invites Sam over to his house for an interview. He’s only got one tall boy in the fridge and he offers to split it. That’s beautiful.

Jimmy Boegle, Coachella Valley Independent
We did this only a few months after our launch: “Generations of Valley Taxpayers on the Hook for Hundreds of Millions After School Districts Issue ‘Irresponsible’ Bonds.” While state-level news had already broken on these terrible bonds, nobody had yet looked into the local, Coachella Valley aspect, until the Independent did.

16 days after we published our piece, the daily came along and did essentially the same piece we did (sans any credit, of course), touted as a big “investigation” – except the reporter completely misreported the aspect of how the state-level story was first reported. That’s what led to my companion piece.

The thing I’m least proud of? In the 10 months since, we have not yet broken another story of that magnitude.

Kirk Woundy, Colorado Springs Independent
In March, J. Adrian Stanley put together a couple stories on the prospect of flooding off the burn scar left by last year’s Waldo Canyon Fire. Then in June, she and others profiled a few of the people living in some of the most high-risk areas.

When this summer did bring flooding – the first one actually happened the week we published that second story – we had laid the groundwork for people to understand why it was happening, and also to feel connected to some of those affected.

Debbie Michaud, Creative Loafing Atlanta
We at Creative Loafing Atlanta are incredibly proud of the issue Congressman John Lewis Guest edited this summer. It was a huge honor and inspiration to work with the Civil Rights hero and his congressional aid/March co-author Andrew Aydin. Our collaboration explored in depth the future of nonviolence, something that feels especially important to discuss deeply and continuously as we come to the end of 2013 and reflect on all that has happened – both good and bad – in 2013.

Kimberly Lawson, Creative Loafing Charlotte
“Girls & Guns,” not because I’m featured on the cover aiming a pink handgun, either. Each person who participated in this cover package about guns, which included a field trip to the shooting range, came from a different background and had different experiences handling weapons. Together, our varying, honest perspectives revealed the many facets of a larger, national debate. Being a “liberal rag” in the South, I’m sure this story wasn’t the one our readers expected to hear from us.

Giles Morris, C-Ville Weekly
We’re most proud of our multimedia feature “The Road.” It was really gratifying to be able to push things forward on the digital front with what could have been a relatively dry local transportation policy story. The fact that we ended up getting national attention for it from other media insiders was great affirmation that you can participate in evolving digital journalism as an alt weekly, even though you’re still really heavily invested in print, both financially and professionally.

As far as the least proud – for me, it was certainly a controversy we got caught up in when an editing failure led to the publication of a racially charged rant the week after George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin. The happy ending was that we owned the mistake, and used it to evolve The Rant, which had existed as a call-in free speech wall for over a decade, into a more curated page that gets away from the anonymous vitriol that’s all too common in comment streams these days.

Joe Tone, Dallas Observer
I’m most proud of columnist Jim Schutze’s continued tracking of
corruption at Dallas City Hall, especially his stories on how the city
works to segregate the city’s housing stock and
how the city manager cut a side deal to let gas drillers frack city
parkland. Important stories, broken and owned by Schutze, and told
with flair.

Chris Faraone, Dig Boston
The Somerville Files by Chris Faraone, Tom Nash & Adam Vaccaro. There were times when it looked like this four-part, 10,000-word investigative series on corruption in the City of Somerville wouldn’t happen. We started the project for the Boston Phoenix nearly a full year before DigBoston began publication in June 2012, but were set back when the Phoenix shuttered in March, and again after that when the Boston Globe courted then attempted to steal the story. Nevertheless, we persevered, eventually catalyzing a number of municipal changes, and helping to spur a progressive grassroots takeover on Somerville’s elected board of aldermen. Depending on who you ask, The Somerville Files was also instrumental in the decision by the city’s mayor, Joe Curtatone, to not run for governor of Massachusetts.

When the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15, I (along with longtime Dig photog Derek Kouyoumjian, who shot this and all the other features mentioned here) was just a few blocks away. Within a matter of minutes, I began getting phone calls from editors in New England and around the globe looking for coverage. Among them was DigBoston Publisher Jeff Lawrence, who agreed to let me write a split narrative paralleling the scene in Boston with my experience in New York on September 11, 2001: “Terror: Then and Now.”

While the mainstream media pussyfooted around the clear deception that local authorities were demonstrating in concealing details related to the bombing, and as conspiracy nuts drove a harrowing amount of traffic to extremist sights, DigBoston was one of the few outlets anywhere that asked unconventional questions and delivered sourced answers — particularly regarding the failures of the joint local and national security apparatus — based on real documentation. We’re still at it, planning for a major follow-up in the coming months, but here’s the look we gave the issues back in May: “Why The BPD Didn’t Think That Tamerlan Tsarnaev Was A Killer.”

Something We’re Not Proud Of: Somehow, the most viewed article or post on our site has for months been the “Top 10 Kung Fu Movies You Could Be Streaming On Netflix Right Now.” Not that there’s anything wrong with kung fu – and hell, for all we know, the damn widget could be broken – but we’ve nevertheless spent lots of time considering what this all means. Should we do more lists? Do we need to tag things better? Most importantly, what can we do to push more traffic to our original features than to easy shit like this? Maybe we’ll reset the damn thing in the new year and start over.

Kathleen Richards, East Bay Express
One of the biggest stories of the year in the Bay Area has been the explosive growth of the tech industry. News outlets have covered the issue from various angles — the rising cost in housing and the influx of young money, for example — but no one captured the big picture quite like our staff writer Ellen Cushing did in “The Bacon Wrapped Economy.” She painted a vivid portrait of this obscene new wealth (wave pool at the office party!) – and, more importantly, revealed the impact it’s having on the Bay Area’s values, particularly as they pertain to the cultural landscape. The story was picked up by several news outlets and blogs, including the New York Times’ Bits blog, won an award from the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and was just named among the best business stories of 2013 by The New Yorker.

Low point (for us): Cushing’s story also attracted the attention of the editor of San Francisco Magazine, who (wisely) hired her as his senior editor.

Ted Taylor, Eugene Weekly
Our story “Trainwreck” by staff reporter Camilla Mortensen arose after the Lac Megantic oil train disaster. Other parts of Oregon are actively fighting oil by rail in the wake of stories highlighting the possible repercussions of fracking and Canadian tar sands extraction, but it was a nonissue in Eugene. Or so we thought until we tried to find out if crude oil went through town by rail. It turns out that a post-9/11 Oregon statute exempts oil and other toxic trainloads from public records requests. Eugene Weekly refused to be stymied and instead teamed up with a local videographer and former freight-hopper to document not only crude oil, but chlorine gas and other toxic loads. Each train car is marked with a UN number that indicates exactly what that train carries. These UN numbers can be looked up on a smartphone app or online, rendering the state’s refusal to provide information in order to prevent sabotage useless – anyone can just look up the numbers.

This story was spread widely after it came out via social media – it was linked to by Environmental Health Perspectives, tweeted by Dennis Dimick of National Geographic and profiled on the Society of Environmental Journalists Watchdog Tipsheet to name a few.

Pete McCommons, Flagpole (Athens, Ga.)
We liked this transit story a lot, because it came at a crucial time and started a lot of public and governmental discussion of how to improve the Athens (GA) bus system.

Least Proud: Our music editor and news editor combined for our first-ever pre-season football predictions, with the University of Georgia poised for an outstanding season. As it turned out, almost all the star players they mention here were injured, and Georgia’s season turned out quite differently from this sanguine forecast.

Kevin Allman, Gambit (New Orleans)
Our Super Bowl XLVII issue was one of our most popular, and not just with football fans. Besides profiling the game, we listed restaurants where you could get away from it all, a list of “alternative” souvenirs that didn’t suck (locally made), an investigation of illegal Super Bowl rentals and even a list of YouTube videos to let you stage your own halftime show without Beyonce. Between that week’s paper and online features, we had a few dozen stories.

Lisa Sorg, INDY Week (Durham, NC)
Durham police shot and killed Derek Walker in the middle of downtown after Walker, who was distraught over a child custody issue, threatened to shoot himself. The print and TV media provided typical, wall-to-wall coverage, so the INDY had to tell the untold story. Staff writer John H. Tucker found the man who embalmed Walker-and who happened to be one Walker’s closest friends. Tucker was in the room for the embalming as the man remembered Walker’s life.

Jacob Fries, The Inlander (Spokane, Wash.)
2013 was a big year for us at the Inlander: We added staff, and built and moved into new headquarters. One story I’m proud of – about life, death and organ donation – did what I’ve never seen a story do: make our publisher tear up. But perhaps the thing I’m most proud of is the launch of our new website (, which I think is one of the prettiest things around.

Dean Robbins, Isthmus (Madison, Wis.)
I’m most proud of our coverage of the proposed Judge Doyle Square, which would be the biggest publicly backed development in Madison’s history. Our staff writer Joe Tarr was the only reporter in town who asked tough questions about the project, which had otherwise been sailing smoothly down the tracks. Joe’s reporting on the costs and his skepticism about the benefits changed the conversation in town.

Sarah Fenske, L.A. Weekly
The story we’re most proud of at the LA Weekly is our cover story about Michael Hastings’ death. Not only were we three months ahead of New York Magazine, we did it better. Gene Maddaus’ investigation pulled no punches, exposing for the first time the extent of Hastings’ substance abuse problems – and how the very qualities that made him a great war correspondent ended up killing him.

Least proud? Well, music editor Ben Westhoff and I trashtalked a city we both really love in a misguided attempt to psych out the St. Louis Cardinals. When our friends and relatives stopped speaking to us, we realized we’d gone way too far. Happily they forgave us (winning the NL championship clearly put them in a good mood – and this sincere mea culpa didn’t hurt either).

Sara Havens, LEO Weekly (Louisville, Ky.)

“U of LGBT: How the University of Louisville became the most gay-friendly public university in the South,” by April Corbin. We took the school’s mascot, a cardinal, and turned it rainbow for the cover -which was pretty provocative since Louisville is a big college sports town. The papers on campus were gone in an hour’s time, and the university requested all the extra copies we had that week so they could pass them out to potential students. It’s an in-depth look at how U of L has been on the leading edge of gay rights acceptance — melded with one student’s coming out story and how the university’s gay center has helped her repair her relationship with her mother. We got a lot of great feedback.

What we’re least proud of this year: That Rand Paul is from Kentucky.

Cari Wade Gervin, Metro Pulse (Knoxville, Tenn.)
“The Case Against Pilot: Behind the Accusations of Fraud at Pilot Flying J,” and this story on teachers fed up with education reform: “The War on Teachers 2: Teachers Revolt!”

Chuck Strouse, Miami New Times
Tony Bosch and Biogenesis: MLB Steroid Scandal. Tim Elfrink is the Lord Almighty and we should all prostrate ourselves in the imposing shadow of his great and powerful presence.

(Ed’s Note: In January, Miami New Times reported that Biogenesis, a Miami clinic, had likely provided banned substances to some of Major League Baseball’s biggest names. The story was followed by ESPN, the New York Times, and virtually all national media. The resulting scandal has led to the biggest round of mass suspensions for performance-enhancing drug use in baseball history.)

Skylar Browning, Missoula Independent
“To Serve and Deflect,” by Matthew Frank. This report into Lake County law enforcement shows how crooked cops mostly avoided punishment while those who did the investigating were punished by their superiors. In addition to revealing this messed up process, our reporting helped set a new precedent for how our state deals with police records requests.

Mary Duan, Monterey County Weekly
The story I’m most proud of this year may also be the story I’m going to be most proud of next year. In September, the Weekly filed a motion to intervene in the case of Father Edward Fitz-Henry, a Catholic priest sued by a young man who claimed the priest molested him repeatedly starting in 2005. The case settled out of court and the Diocese of Monterey also paid Fitz-Henry an undisclosed amount of money in exchange for him leaving the priesthood.

Where it gets interesting: In 1990, Fitz-Henry was sent to a retreat center in New Mexico for troubled priest after a mother complained to the Diocese of Monterey that he had “behaved inappropriately” toward at least one of her sons. The Diocese promised he would never be allowed around children again. But after going through counseling, Fitz-Henry was put back into a parish with a school.

The motion was successful; the Monterey County Superior Court judge who ordered all documents in the case be filed under seal has ordered their release; he also ruled that we can obtain depositions in the case. The ruling has been stayed until mid-January in order to give the Diocese time to appeal, which it appears they will. So stay tuned.

Least proud: Stupid shit. I hate getting beaten on anything.

Also, the Barajas story in the San Antonio Current (below) is fucking brilliant and everyone should read it.

Gustavo Arellano, OC Weekly
Although we did a lot of great stories this year, featuring the usual punching-above-our-weight insanity that OC Weekly is notorious for, our best moment of 2013 is also our saddest: the work of our music writer-photographer Andrew Youssef, who passed away from cancer in November. He documented his fight for us in his “Last Shot” column, writing and taking concert photos until the very end. Not only did his work become viral after NIN frontman Trent Reznor Facetimed him during a concert, but it was fabulous writing, with Andrew’s work inspiring the music and cancer community alike.

What I’m least proud of: We didn’t put a single person in jail this year.

Erin Sullivan, Orlando Weekly

Our senior staff writer Billy Manes lost his long-time partner in 2012. What ensued was a long, ugly drawn-out battle between him and his partner’s family, who did not accept the fact that their son was gay. Billy was brave enough to not just write about his experience, but to become a very public face for the real need for meaningful legal recognition of same-sex relationships. The story — “‘Til Death Do Us Part” — not only moved readers, it also forced discussion about the matter in local and state government. Florida still has a long way to go before it eliminates its constitutional ban on gay marriage, but I feel like Billy’s story helped draw much-needed attention to the human side of an issue that for many people is too abstract to really comprehend.

Stephen Segal, Philadelphia Weekly
Philly Weekly produced an awful lot in 2013 that I’m proud of – but if I have to pick one single piece I found most noteworthy, I’ll point to an issue where our staff got out of the way and let the primary source speak for itself. We excerpted as a cover story Prof. Yaba Blay’s provocative new book “One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race,” which presents stunning photographic portraits of variously-hued and multiracial Black Americans alongside essays by those subjects in which they discussed how their specific skin color, and its relationship to their lives, has shaped their unique identities. Just fascinating reading. (And an editorial note: Among other things, I find this story has pushed me into the school of thought that, AP style notwithstanding, “Black” should indeed be a capitalized ethnic term.)

The moment I was least proud of in 2013 was when an unexamined assumption early in the reporting process went uncaught by fact-checking protocols and we identified, in print, the subject of a cover photo by his brother’s name instead of his own. Not cool.

James Allen, Random Lengths News (San Pedro, Calif.)
Our best stories of the year were “Figueroa on Figueroa,” about a noted Cuban photographer, our Earth Day feature “The Great Food Revolt,” and our feature on the sequester. Also, our national and most senior editor Paul Rosenberg is now a columnist for both Al Jezeera English and

Jessica Lussenhop, Riverfront Times
At a time when there seems to be a lot of national dialogue about legalizing marijuana, and about the war on drugs and incarceration in general, staff writer Ray Downs found a fascinating nexus in the case of Jeff Mizanskey, the only man in Missouri sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for marijuana.

Nick Miller, Sacramento News & Review
Most outsiders know Sacramento for the NBA’s Kings. And Gov. Jerry Brown. To that end, I’m proud of Cover Stories that explored the good, and mostly bad, of the city’s new Kings arena public subsidy: “Long live the Kings?” and “The ultimate, definitive Sacramento Kings arena number crunch.”
And one that analyzed the governor’s contentious plan to divert oceans of water to Southern California. We’re not contrarian, but reporting stories that belie traditional-media narratives feels worthy and, in a world where “alt” is increasingly nebulous, very “alt.”

Rachel Piper, Salt Lake City Weekly
The series we’re most proud of – Shurtleff & Swallow – is a project that has been on our radar since 2008, when staff writer Eric S. Peterson began reporting on then-Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and his ties to people in questionable industries such as telemarketing and multilevel marketing, who donated big bucks to his campaign and then seemed to receive protection from his office, which ordinarily would be tasked with prosecuting them.

Over the years, our reporting has been met with extreme pushback from the AG’s office, in the form of personal blogs decrying our “yellow journalism” as well as ridiculously high fees for open-records requests-which we’ve then had to fight. And in 2012, Shurtleff’s chief deputy, John Swallow, handily won the election to succeed Shurtleff, even though we’d reported on a phone conversation Swallow had had with two telemarketing owners, telling them that if elected, he’d be taking over Consumer Protection to, basically, have more control over investigations into these companies.

It all came to a head in 2013, when Shurtleff/Swallow associate (and owner of iWorks, which the FTC says defrauded customers out of $281 million) Jeremy Johnson said that Swallow had facilitated a bribe of Sen. Harry Reid. After that, other local media jumped on the bandwagon, the FBI, DOJ and Utah Legislature all began investigating Swallow, and Swallow eventually resigned in November 2013, saying he’d been “pecked to death.” The FBI investigation is still active, and big Shurtleff/Swallow associate Tim Lawson was charged last week with six felonies.

It’s a story we’ve never let up on, and it’s one that’s (finally) squeezing some juice, even in a state where people often look the other way when it comes to skeezy business practices. It also resulted in some of the best quotes (in or out of context):
“Fraud built Utah like cocaine built Miami.”
“I don’t give a flying monkey’s ass if they like me or not–this is America, they can go fuck themselves. But there are also people here who would trust me with their lives–with their children’s lives.” (Lawson)
“I know there are always two sides, even to a very thin pancake.” (that one from Swallow himself)

Callie Enlow, San Antonio Current
“Portrait of a Shattered Family” by Michael Barajas. Charity Lee experienced heartbreaking tragedy twice over-her only daughter murdered and her oldest son in jail for the crime-but she managed to turn it into something meaningful and positive in her work advocating for criminal justice reform. Hearing from both Lee and her son made a big impact. This story really stuck with me. Her youngest son, by the way, is doing well.

David Rolland, San Diego CityBeat
For our “60 Dead Inmates” series, San Diego CityBeat writers Kelly Davis and Dave Maass spent nearly a year researching every death in San Diego’s jail system since 2006, uncovering physical abuse and poor supervision of suicidal and substance-dependent inmates as well as institutional record-keeping problems.

Steven T. Jones, San Francisco Bay Guardian
The story I’m most proud of this year almost got me fired. After our new owners forced our longtime editor and mentor Tim Redmond to leave the paper, we all thought about following him out the door. But first, we do what journalists do, we wrote the story.

It was an honest story that didn’t make our new owner look good, and there were parts that were embarrassing to Tim and Guardian founder Bruce Brugmann as well. But it was true and it was compelling and it restored our readers’ faith in the Guardian, which gave us the strength and support to force our owners to name Marke B and me – two longtime Guardianistas – as publisher and editor, respectively. And since then, many prominent voices have said the Guardian is better than it’s been in years. We did what was right and it paid off.

Julie Ann Grimm, Santa Fe Reporter
Here are our faves: “Fowl Play,” a fight over chickens in the suburbs; “Downs Doings,” FBI investigates racino deal; “Mexican, Asked,” a profile of Gustavo Arellano; “Walmartians;” “Love and Sex Issue,” this one got a lot of hate mail and several stacks were stolen from the racks; “Marriage Equality fight in NM;” and a really important one: “Red Tape, reproductive access under fire.”

Pamela Polston, Seven Days (Burlington, Vt.)
Unearthing Asian ‘massage parlors’ may not be earth-shaking to our AAN colleagues who live in large urban markets. But in Vermont it was a BFD. Though less for the idea of men receiving “happy endings” than the prospect of human trafficking. (The print title of this story was “Unhappy Endings.”) So reporter Ken Picard’s story about this was one of the year’s best at Seven Days, and it spawned several follow-ups: “Vermont Police Take Hands-Off Approach to Investigating Massage-Parlor Prostitution,” “Is It Possible to Keep Erotic Massage Parlors Out of Vermont?” and “Mayor and Media Rub Barre Massage Business the Wrong Way.”

We were also happy with our package story, “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Vermont” – a response to a nationwide survey that found Vermont the least religious state in the country, and for which all our reporters fanned out to attend various non-mainstream religious services.

I’d also like to throw in an arts profile – of 75-year-old Jim Rooney, who has left a deep mark on American roots music and happens to live in tiny Sharon, Vt. The print headline for music editor Dan Bolles’ story was “Record Time.”

Dan Gibson, Tucson Weekly
“Tiger’s Rules,” a profile of one of Tucson’s most interesting characters, an eighty-year old bartender in one of Tucson’s oldest places to drink. It was just one of those stories only we could tell and I think the writer, David Mendez, killed it.

I don’t know if there was anything super-notable that I wasn’t proud of, but it wasn’t a great feeling to run a cover story about Brazilian band Os Mutantes only to have them postpone their show the day the issue hit stands.

Jonathan Fischer, Washington City Paper
Not to toot WCP’s collective horn, but since that’s the point of this exercise, there were so many places where I think we excelled this year: our penetrating and slightly gonzo account of a frequently self-martyring councilmember’s quixotic run for mayor; “How to Fix Everything,” our package of D.C. policy prescriptions both small and utopian; Justin Moyer’s epic, beautifully written account of how he picked a preschool for his daugher; and all of the fantastic beat reporting, on blogs and in columns, that our staff writers prosecuted throughout the year.

But the best? I think that would have to be “Post Impressionism,” the package we crashed following the news that the Graham family planned to sell the Washington Post to Jeff Bezos. We looked at the background against which the Grahams decided to sell the paper; what a bookseller owner could mean for the paper’s flagging books coverage; what the sale of the paper (and the planned sale of its building) means for D.C.’s bustling real estate market; and the Graham family’s legacy of fighting for open government. We offered the Post management and its incoming owner some unsolicited advice (we had three votes for “Fire Richard Cohen”). And finally, the package produced one viral hit: an open letter to Jeff Bezos from former Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton, who called for the firing of the “plain bad” opinion blogger Jennifer Rubin, who “doesn’t travel within a hundred miles of Post standards.” As of yet, the Post hasn’t taken Pexton’s advice.

Mark Zusman, Willamette Week (Portland, Ore.)
“No Good Deed” by Nigel Jaquiss, a story about the clusterfuck that is our department of Human Services.

Jordan Green, YES! Weekly (Greensboro, NC)
“Under surveillance: How Greensboro police monitor activists” by Eric Ginsburg.