Winter 2013

Critical Condition

“If you are counting full-time critic jobs at newspapers, you may as well count tombstones.” That was the response of Johanna Keller, director of the Goldring Arts Journalism Program at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, to a Nieman Reports query about the number of professional critics employed at dailies around the country. The figures on newspaper critics (News flash: they're not good) are one indication of the state of criticism today, but they are not the only one. Read more …

Cover Story
Critical Condition (3 comments)
Why Professional Criticism Matters
By James Geary
Concision and Clarity (3 comments)
Robert Christgau reflects on the art of writing well about music
Interview by Brett Anderson
Concision and Clarity: The Extended Transcript (1 comment)
Concision and Clarity: The Video Interview
Consumer Retorts (1 comment)
When everybody’s a critic, what’s the role of a professional reviewer?
By Kimberly D. Kleman
The Reviewer Reviewed (1 comment)
A critic-turned-novelist explores the borders between journalism and fiction
By Julia Keller
Minimize Description, Maximize Observation
Pulitzer-winner Blair Kamin schools Harvard students in the art of architecture criticism
By Dina Kraft
But Is It Art? (2 comments)
How the roles of curator and critic can be complementary rather than combative
By Paola Antonelli
The Illumination Business (8 comments)
Why drama critics must look at and look after the theater
By John Lahr
Select, Shape, Celebrate (1 comment)
The critic’s calling is to elevate the good and ignore the bad
By Maria Popova
Download the Cover Package
Nieman Watchdog Project
It Can’t Happen Here (6 comments)
Why is there so little coverage of Americans who are struggling with poverty?
By Dan Froomkin
"Exposing the Forces that Grind People Down"
By Dan Froomkin
From the Curator
Ghosts Speaking Across the Page (4 comments)
By Ann Marie Lipinski
Heard @ Lippmann House
Jenna Wortham, Brian Stelter talk NYTimes, online world
A conversation with Jenna Wortham and Brian Stelter
“Truth Is Not About What the Majority Believes”
Documentary filmmaker and author Errol Morris on how we are all error-generating machines
By Errol Morris
Niemans @ Work
Control Information, Control Souls
Yu Gao, deputy managing editor of Caixin Media and affiliate of 2013 Nieman Fellow Jin Deng, on how Chinese media censorship works
By Yu Gao
No Such Thing as “Foreign” Anymore (2 comments)
Maria Balinska, NF ’10, on why it’s time to mash up local and global news
By Maria Balinska
What Happened in Qubair
Deborah Amos, NF ’92, on covering a massacre in a central Syrian farming village
By Deborah Amos
Features
Reporting from America’s Silent Spaces (4 comments)
Sandy Close, recipient of the 2012 I.F. Stone Medal, has made a career out of helping ethnic communities and the dispossessed tell their own stories
By Kimberly French
The Voice on the Other End of the Line
By Kimberly French
'Speaking From Beneath the Sea' (2 comments)
Through her reporting and activism, Mexican journalist Marcela Turati, recipient of the 2013 Lyons Award, is giving voice to those who lack political power and access to the media
By Alfredo Corchado
The Abnormality of Daily Life
Marcela Turati's journalism chronicles the anguish of relatives of "The Disappeared"
By Marcela Turati
Books
Southern Exposure
How three Niemans drove coverage of the civil rights movement
By Gene Roberts
What We Talk About When We Talk About War (1 comment)
War correspondent Kevin Sites explores what happens to veterans who have returned from Afghanistan and Iraq
By Christina Lamb
Tricks of the Trade (1 comment)
Undercover reporting fell out of favor in the 1970s but is it worth another look?
By Philip Meyer
Can’t Live with ’em, Can’t Live without ’em (1 comment)
How big telecoms firms put a chokehold on America’s communication pipelines—and what should be done about it
By Dan Froomkin
Nieman Notes
Class Notes
“The End is Inevitable, But Not Predictable”
Anthony Lewis, NF ’57, remembers Stanley Karnow, NF ’58
By Anthony Lewis
“Get This Boy in Our Stable”
Dan Wakefield, NF ’64, reflects on first meeting Kurt Vonnegut during his Nieman year
By Dan Wakefield
Waiting it Out in Kings Tavern
Dave McNeely, NF ’76, on the Emmy Award-winning Larry L. King, NF ’70
By Dave McNeely
Bolivia by Bus
How Raul Peñaranda, NF ’08, and his daily newspaper went off the map to rediscover their own country
By Raul Peñaranda
“They Promised to Take Our Land, and They Took It”
By Steve Northup
From Twitter to Gellhorn via Mexico
Three Nieman Visiting Fellows undertake diverse short-term projects during 2013
Sounding
Identity and Integrity
Should a reporter ever be off duty?
By Yaakov Katz