The short, snappy, essay-with-a-punch is a thing of beauty, especially when it’s insightful enough to hurt someone’s feelings. But a well written piece of long form journalism is far harder to come by, and far more valuable.
I like to think I’ve written a few of those.
Two of my best pieces are alas not available in a good format online, so I can’t really recommend looking at them, but I’m very proud of them: an examination of how to prevent youth violence called “Healling Begins at Home”(PDF), and an analysis of New York State’s standardized testing regimen – that I am deeply proud of – called “Putting the Test to the Test.” (PDF). Man do I wish those were online in a nicer format. They were beautiful in print – and both, I’m pleased to say, made a difference.
The testing piece also lead to one of the strangest experiences of my life. After the piece came out, I went to cover an anti-testing rally in Albany, and when I got there hundreds of people were holding signs with my words, from my article, printed on them. Every time they got in an argument with a public official, they quoted me. I’d had no idea it was going to happen, and I wondered if this was what Chairman Mao felt like. At least a little …
For long form journalism that is easier on the eyes, check out my collaborations with Joe Eskenazi.