Monica Hesse’s “The Long Drive to End a Pregnancy” in The Washington Post
In a spare, powerful story, Monica Hesse chronicles a woman’s 407-mile drive from Wyoming to Missoula, Montana, to get an abortion. There is no think-piecing, no debating, no arguing a point – just perfectly chosen details, mile by mile. It’s an ideal example of the power of a single, focused narrative to illuminate a larger issue.
Sarah Maslin Nir’s “The Price of Nice Nails” in New York Times
For more than a year, Sarah Maslin Nir investigated the living and working conditions of the workers—mostly women—who slave over hangnails and slough off calluses for their customers, most of whom have never considered what the low price of their mani-pedis might mean for their manicurists. It’s the first in a series Nir has written for the Times about the exploitation of nail salon workers, particularly in the New York area. Since its publication just last week, it has started conversations among patrons and politicians alike. Read this because it sheds light on the very real issues immigrant workers face; read this if you ever get your nails done; but also, read this because it’s an example of important reporting that has already inspired its readers and leaders to take action.
Jean Friedman-Rudovsky’s “The Ecotourism Industry Is Saving Tanzania’s Animals and Threatening Its Indigenous People” in Vice
Jean Friedman-Rudovsky and her brother Noah, a photographer, produce deeply moving, visually rich longform. I met Noah in 2013 when I was living in Mexico City, and I have followed his work and thus gotten to know his sister Jean through her writing. In this story, Jean frames environmental preservation in terms of something we rarely think about – the displaced indigenous people who once occupied the land being preserved.
These are our world’s conservation refugees—from the Dominican Republic to Kenya, Bolivia to Brazil. They are the Batwa of Uganda, who were forced out of their native forests when they were falsely accused of killing silverback gorillas. Many are now squatters without access to water or sanitation, living on the edge of parks that protect the great apes. They are the Hmong of northern Thailand, who were plunged into food shortage when the government, under pressure from the UN’s Global Environment Facility, created a national park system. This presaged the arrival of men with guns, giving them no option but to give up their way of life.
Indigenous cultures, it seems, still are of little interest to us, but we continue to appropriate their resources in the name of ecotourism.