Media pundits are fond of saying that today’s audiences don’t have the attention span to appreciate long-form journalism. Cable, they argue — not to mention the Internet — has rewired our brains to the point that we can no longer watch more than 30 seconds of television or read more than 140 characters at a time, before we rush to update our Facebook page or tweet our reaction to the 30 seconds of television or the 140 characters we just consumed.
We here at Need to Know disagree. We believe that many readers still have an appetite for a well-reported, well-told story that unfolds over multiple paragraphs – and pages. This year has been a particularly good one for the in-depth profile: Our favorite pieces start by examining a person we thought we knew, but invariably surprise us by fleshing out the subject in an altogether different, more nuanced light. Here are some of the highlights:
“The Runaway General”
By Michael Hastings (Rolling Stone Magazine, July 8-22, 2010)
In what can only be described as the bombshell article of the year, Hastings provides an unsparing look at General Stanley McCrystal, the then top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan. Hastings’ candid reportage of controversial comments (i.e., White House “wimps”) ultimately resulted in the general’s resignation, and revived skepticism about the Obama administration’s Afghanistan strategy.
Read the full article.