A weekly newsletter for Pacific Standard Premium members.
Your Five Essential Reads
A rundown of five of our most important and timely stories from the past week.
- What happens after a lifetime of abuse and violence? Photographer Nina Berman met a young girl named Cathy on the streets of London in the early 1990s. After following her around the city for a night, she then began an on-again off-again documentation of the next 25 years of her life. Experience Berman's photo essay here.
- From its very origins to the present day, California has had a long history of taking a relatively progressive approach to the pressing issues of the day. Greg Orfalea looked back at the history of the Golden State, starting with explorer Junípero Serra, and followed these lines of exceptionalism to the modern day. Read Orfalea's feature here.
- America's symphonies are experiencing their own #MeToo movement. For most of their history, orchestras across America have largely excluded female composers and conductors, creating a large gender gap within classical music performance. Senior staff writer Tom Jacobs spoke to some of the people trying to change that. Read Jacobs' piece here.
- In Manila's cemetery slums, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's regime is carrying out its "War on Drugs" with bloody and reckless aplomb. The residents of these ramshackle shanty towns are forced to deal with extrajudicial killings and violence on an almost daily basis. Lynzy Billing went to these areas to document the suffering imposed by Duterte's regime. Read Billing's story here.
- In the past, information about human behavior collected by social scientists was largely held in public institutions. As a result, this information was predominantly used to solve some of society's biggest problems, but now, as staff writer Francie Diep writes, new research from the Social Science Research Council reveals that much of this data is held by private companies—and it's being used for private gain. Read Diep's story here.
Behind the Scenes: A Note From the Newsroom
News and notes from Pacific Standard staff and contributors.
You can find Antonia Juhasz's feature, "Death on the Dakota Access," here.
Antonia and I spoke hastily on the phone. The sense of hurry was understandable, given the police-grade rubber bullets that were apparently whizzing by Antonia's head. Besides, it was probably our third or fourth conversation that day—it's hard to say, exactly; this happened about two years ago. She knew what sort of story I, her Web editor, was looking for, just as I knew what sort of story she was capable of delivering (an extremely high-caliber one). No time for pleasantries when there's a story unfolding right before your eyes.
I was first put in touch with Antonia Juhasz by Pacific Standard's executive editor, Jennifer Sahn. It was late October of 2016. Antonia and Jennifer were hard at work on an investigation into the death of Nicholas Janesich, who passed away that year after suffering a work-related injury during the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. During the course of her reporting for that story, Antonia found herself in the thick of the pipeline protests. Antonia and Jennifer both wondered: Might there be an opportunity for a quick dispatch? And so I found myself chatting over the phone with a woman who made her living in part by dodging bullets.
In order to keep pace with the news cycle, timeliness—speed, really—is a central priority for me as a Web editor (and for my colleague, Rebecca Worby). We publish roughly 12 stories per day to PSmag.com, the majority of which are tied to the breaking news cycle.
But alongside the mandate for haste comes our desire to craft meaningful, impactful stories. In order to accomplish both of these goals, we need to be flexible, assigning in all different formats and styles. In Antonia's case, that meant on-the-ground reporting, where we her goal was simply to illuminate; other times, the story might demand wonky analysis, where the reporting requires a quick call to a researcher.
And sometimes, as was the case with the two dispatches Antonia wrote from the protests in North Dakota, Web reporting can function as something of a notepad for a larger print piece. Which is to say: Her story about Janesich's death wouldn't have wound up as nuanced and detail-rich as it did had it not been for those frequent, frazzled exchanges between her and me.
In that sense, there really is no divide between the print and Web sides of Pacific Standard. We all lurch toward the same goal: to tell important stories—ones that can change the world.
—Max Ufberg, Digital Director
PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.
No Man's Land: Women's Photography and the First World War: On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, Germany and the Allied Forces officially ended World War I with the signing of an armistice in a train car in France. One hundred years later, museums and historical societies around the world are marking the centennial of the war's end, showcasing stories, sounds, and images meant to capture both the extraordinary scale of war and the intimacy of daily life during the conflict. One such exhibit is No Man’s Land: Women's Photography and the First World War, commissioned by West Yorkshire, England's Impressions Gallery.
Images taken by women like Olive Edis, the first woman officially sent to war as a photographer, and nurse Florence Farmborough, who used her camera to document the gruesome realities of fighting even when the U.K. government tried to downplay the horrors of war, sit next to new art by Dawn Cole, whose mixed-media pieces are made from the wartime diaries of her great-aunt, and Chloe Dewe Mathews, whose photographs consider the fate of soldiers executed for desertion. The exhibition will go on tour in 2019, bringing the viewpoints of often-ignored figures in World War I history to galleries around the world.
—Angela Serratore, Contributing Writer
PS in the News
A look at where our stories and staff surface in the national conversation.
- Gregory Orfaela's feature about the history of California exceptionalism was included in the Los Angeles Times' Essential California newsletter.
- The Guardian republished Dwyer Gunn's interview with two sociologists about their new book discussing how businesses bury waste underground in cities across the country.
- Elaina Plott's illuminating feature about the residents of Tangier Island was included in Nature's Friday Briefing round-up.
The Country's First Climate Change Casualties? (September/October 2018)
- Instead of looking critically at the problem and altering their failing belief system so that their way of life can be saved, they've chosen to literally go down with the ship. Fascinating. Sad, I guess. But they're doing it to themselves. If they don't want to save their island, then we can't force them to seek help. —Lindsay C
- "Real" versus "all in your head" is a false dichotomy. Mental illnesses have real physical symptoms. In this documentary series, the strongest indications of hypochondria come not from expert talking heads but from the victims themselves and their often contradictory or impossible claims. —Paul Ernsberger
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