Jason Whittaker, publisher
“Stories that truly reveal something about the way power works are not going to happen in this framework. They take time (way more time than can be justified economically) and stability. They take reporters and editors who can trust their jobs will be there, even if money is tight or powerful folks are offended. They are driven by a desire for journalism to have impact, not just turn a profit … Conservatively, counting just the biggest chunks of staff time that went into it, the prison story cost roughly $350,000. The banner ads that appeared on the article brought in $5,000, give or take.”
Bernard Keane, politics editor
“It’s counterintuitive to think of this manically outward performer, nicknamed the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, as an unknown. In the culture of the 1950s and ’60s, Brown’s performance was, very simply, volcanic. Elvis, who gyrated to “Hound Dog” the year that Brown’s band, the Famous Flames, released their 1956 debut single, “Please, Please, Please,” had upset the puritanical order, breached the color divide from the other side, and made sure that the United States was never going to be the same again. But Brown’s performance was all the more menacing for the place it came from. As Sharpton said, James Brown “released the scream in all of us that had so much scream built up in us but never had the nerve to let it go.” That scream seemed to contain the entire African-American experience: exultation but also pain, rhapsody but also anger, swagger but also fear”
Cassidy Knowlton, editor
This podcast is from 2003, but as Nauru hit the headlines again this week for all the worst reasons, it’s worth revisiting what exactly Nauru is and how it came to be a vassal state of Australia. This American Life contributing editor Jack Hitt visited Nauru in 2003 and discovered its history of money laundering, mining its land into a blasted wasteland and a very odd London musical.
Myriam Robin, media reporter
“For many decades, Australia has been known as the “lucky country”. Some 24 million Australians enjoy their own sunny, mineral-rich continent – and are separated from the world’s trouble spots by vast oceans.
“But Australia’s historic good fortune was partly dependent on the fact that friendly countries controlled those vast oceans. Australia was part of the British empire when Britannia ruled the waves. And since 1945, the US Navy has dominated the Pacific.
“However if the South China Sea and the wider Pacific Ocean become contested waters, Australia potentially faces a tricky choice.
“Should it accommodate itself to the idea that China will eventually dominate the Asia-Pacific region? Or should Australia place its bet on the continuing dominance of a like-minded, traditional ally – the US.”
Sally Whyte, journalist
“When China’s favourite Fu Yuanhui openly mentioned her menstrual cycle on Sunday (Aug. 14) at the Rio Olympics, it was the first time many Chinese people realised it is possible to swim while being on your period.
“Fu, a Hangzhou native, is arguably China’s most popular athlete right now, thanks to her over-the-top facial expressions and sense of humor, as demonstrated during a livestream Q&A last week. Her phrase ‘mystic energy” has become a meme on China’s internet. On Sunday, Fu once again became a trending topic on Chinese social networking site Weibo for her frankness.”
Josh Taylor, journalist
“You know it’s coming. As hyperpartisanship, grievance politics, and garden-variety rage shift from America’s first black commander-in-chief onto its first female one, so too will the focus of political bigotry. Some of it will be driven by genuine gender grievance or discomfort among some at being led by a woman. But in plenty of other cases, slamming Hillary as a bitch, a c**t (Thanks,Scott Baio!), or a menopausal nut-job (an enduringly popular theme on Twitter) will simply be an easy-peasy shortcut for dismissing her and delegitimising her presidency.”