Required Reading

‣ Writing for Columbia Journalism Review, David M. Rothschild, Elliot Pickens, Gideon Heltzer, Jenny Wang, and Duncan J. Watts examined the front pages of the New York Times and Washington Post during the 2022 election and compared the coverage to the 2016 coverage (which was disastrous) and they found some troubling things (and surprises for those not paying attention):

After the 2022 midterms, we checked back in, this time examining the printed front page of the Times and the Washington Post from September 1, 2022, through Election Day that November. As before, we figured the front page mattered disproportionately, in part because articles placed there represent selections that publishers believe are most important to readers—and also because, according to Nielsen data we analyzed, 32 percent of Web-browsing sessions around that period starting at the Times homepage did not lead to other sections or articles; people often stick to what they’re shown first. We added the Post this time around for comparison, to get a sense of whether the Times really was anomalous. 

It wasn’t. We found that the Times and the Post shared significant overlap in their domestic politics coverage, offering little insight into policy. Both emphasized the horse race and campaign palace intrigue, stories that functioned more to entertain readers than to educate them on essential differences between political parties. The main point of contrast we found between the two papers was that, while the Post delved more into topics Democrats generally want to discuss—affirmative action, police reform, LGBTQ rights—the Times tended to focus on subjects important to Republicans—China, immigration, and crime. 

‣ In a must-read comic in the Washington Post, illustrated by Rama Duwaji, Palestinian artist Reem Ahmed recounts the experience of being trapped under rubble for 12 hours following an Israeli bombing in Gaza:

‣ In Le Monde, Marine Jeanin reports from Abidjan (Ivory Coast) about Ivorian ambitions to “decolonize” chocolate:

“Chocolate is not a consumer product,” thundered Gauz on the low sofa reserved for the invited speakers at the Bushman Café. “It’s pure thought, pure intellect! It’s culture!” In front of a small audience of journalists, industrialists and researchers, the Ivorian writer, author of the book Cocoaïans (2022), said angrily: “Cocoa is not a native plant. It was imposed on us by a European bourgeois whim. Cocoa is an issue of civilizational thought, the site of a confrontation between African peasants, who produce this cocoa while destroying their ecosystem, and the hyper-bourgeoisie, who invented the taste of chocolate and imposed it through violence.”

The 2.4 million tons of cocoa that leave the fields of Côte d’Ivoire every year are described by Gauz as “2.4 tons of misfortune!” “The first crime we committed – a collective one – was to have perpetuated the colonial economic system. Coffee, cocoa, rubber, palm oil … there’s nothing new being produced here! This is the idea that needs to be put back at the heart of the debate. We need to rethink a class relationship, a relationship of domination.”

‣ In the Yale Review, Alec Pollak writes about author Lorraine Hansberry’s Queer Archive:

The Hansberry proffered by the past decade’s reappraisals is fearless and fully formed—as clear-eyed and analytically astute about “the question of homosexuality” as she is about feminism, colonialism, and Black liberation. “She was a feminist before the feminist movement,” explains Imani Perry. “She identified as a lesbian and thought about LGBT organizing before there was a gay rights movement. She was an anti-colonialist before independences had been won in Africa and the Caribbean.” But when she wrote about homosexuality, Hansberry was not always the confident visionary we have come to know. Throughout her queer archive, we encounter her uncharacteristically cowed by social convention and plagued by self-doubt. The antiracist, intersectional vision that Hansberry took care to foreground in writings published under her own name seems absent. Before Hansberry’s ongoing renaissance, these lesbian writings might very well have fortified the myth of a poor and “unfinished life.” But the travails of Hansberry’s journey to self-recognition are not nearly as inscrutable as they once were. Since Hansberry’s death, gay people have entered public life en masse. Black lesbian trailblazers writing in the 1970s and 1980s—Audre Lorde, Anita Cornwell, Barbara Smith, and others—defiantly claimed space for themselves at the intersection of homophile, feminist, and Black radical organizing, and subsequent generations have furthered their work. The reading public is now better equipped than it was even ten years ago to appreciate Hansberry’s struggle to embrace the full scope of her identity. “People want more,” writes Perry, “and we deserve it.”

‣ The North Atlantic Fella Organization is trying to shut down Trump’s social media platform before the 2024 election. David Gilbert of Wired has the story:

While most of NAFO’s activity takes place on X, the website formerly as Twitter, Kenwell had considered targeting Truth Social after he was inspired in part by a campaign earlier this year run by three friends—including the founder of the Birds Aren’t Real satirical conspiracy movement—who managed to get the #DeSantis2024 hashtag trending on Truth Social before it suddenly shut down.

But Kenwell was finally convinced to take action when he saw the Biden campaign join Truth Social. Biden’s campaign team joined Truth Social in October and briefly surged past the Trump campaign account in terms of followers, though the Trump account, with almost 65,000 followers, has since surpassed the Biden account, which currently has almost 56,000 followers.

‣ You’ve probably heard of the anthropocene. Well, some scientists want to use a lake in Southern Ontario as the marker for the era. Hank Green’s SciShow explains:

‣ Ashkbiz Danehkar explains that something weird is happening in our galaxy for Ted-Ed, and yes, it’s very strange and fascinating:

YouTube video

‣ Chinese influencer Zheng XiangXiang made over $13 million US in a week selling products at hyper-speed on her live feed. Granted, she has over half a billion followers:

‣ “Corporate accents” have been making the rounds on TikTok, but Lisa Beasley’s rendition — dubbed “Corporate Erin” — takes the cake (and might bring back bad memories, too):

‣ Who needs book reviews when you’ve got a deadly eyeroll at your disposal?

‣ And in oddly heartwarming archaeological news, someone got a tattoo of a 13th-century child’s doodle, a masterful piece of linework:

Required Reading is published every Thursday afternoon, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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