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The Best 'Pacific Standard' Stories of 2015

As curated by our editors.
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(Photos, clockwise from left: Fareed Alston/Chris Jordan/Courtesy of Mark Lukach/Joe Toreno)

(Photos, clockwise from left: Fareed Alston/Chris Jordan/Courtesy of Mark Lukach/Joe Toreno)

These are busy times at Pacific Standard. Most weeks, we publish between 50 to 60 stories on the site. That number pales in comparison to the Huffington Posts and BuzzFeeds of the world, but given a full-time editorial staff of 13 and a focus on making every story matter, that's some pretty serious output. We're working hard, and I think it's paying off.

Publishing 50 to 60 stories per week also means we've had the privilege of running a deep variety of outstanding journalism, and collaborating with some really talented writers.

If you're new to Pacific Standard, or you don't scan our website every single day (don't worry, I wont judge you; the Internet is a bustling place), you now have the pleasure of reading some of these stories for the first time. Enjoy—they represent some of our most well-received, ambitious work to date.

And even if you follow the site closely, you still might have missed a few of these—we publish so damn much these days.

Here are this year's best Pacific Standard stories, as selected by our editors:

  • "Children of the Tribes," by Julia Scheeres
  • In this country, we celebrate the First Amendment, which prevents the government from interfering with religious beliefs and practices. But what about when those beliefs and practices make children suffer?
  • "Is Medicine's Gender Bias Killing Young Women?" by Maya Dusenbery
  • Young women who have heart attacks may hesitate to get help because they're afraid of being labeled hypochondriacs. What's worse, their paranoia might be justified.
  • "In the Morning, I'll be All Right," by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib
  • To quote Hanif: "To be black and still alive in America is to know urgency. What Marvin Gaye knew, even as a man of God, was that Heaven might not be open for him, or for any of us." Why bother trying to top that?
  • "The Messengers," by Brooke Jarvis
  • How do we get people to care about the environment? Photographer Chris Jordan has taken hundreds of shots of dead birds on Midway. The images, he hopes, are sufficiently unbearable that viewers will experience "the full psychological impact of the destruction of the natural world."
  • "The Object Clues in Your Lover's Bedroom," by Alana Levinson
  • Should the discovery of a handgun, a noose, or Nazi dolls be a dealbreaker? Strange bedroom artifacts reveal character and background, but they might also spur flawed interpretations.
  • "The Brothers Tsarnaev," by Peter Vigneron
  • Why did Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev attack the Boston Marathon?
  • "The Human Cost of Keystone XL," by A.C. Shilton
  • In North Dakota’s oil boomtowns, rape, sex trafficking, and domestic violence rates are spiking, with American Indian women suffering the most.
  • "Letters to Prison," by Elisabeth Fairfield Stokes
  • A writer re-visits a senseless murder in her hometown over 25 years ago—and tries to understand the community's silence around the heinous crime.
  • "How Big Pharma Gave America Its Heroin Problem," by Daniel J. McGraw
  • OxyContin, designed for cancer pain relief, became the go-to drug for back and tooth aches. When the prescriptions ran out, addicts turned to heroin—and the cartels saw their opening.
  • "Who Gets a Public Defender?" by Steven Hsieh
  • Amid St. Louis' massive caseloads of petty crimes, Missouri left hundreds of the city's poorest without recourse to a lawyer.

It's been one hell of a year. Let's see what 2016 brings.