To do good writing, read good writing. Here’s the good writing I’ve been reading this week.
If you read anything from this week, make it the Los Angeles Times‘ series on cars and the poor, Wheels of Fortune. It’s timely, well reported and a potential game changer.
The report pulls back the curtain on Buy Here Pay Here car dealers, companies that sell used cars to people with little or no credit, charging them high interest rates, and when owners can’t make loan payments, repossessing the autos and reselling them again, and again.
In a world of instant news, it’s refreshing to read something that obviously took months to prepare. Read Part 3 close enough and you’ll pick up how Times reporter Ken Bensinger describe one source taking multiple buses to work “on a hot summer afternoon.” It’s now early November, which means Bensinger and the editors and graphic designers who helped him on the package worked on this piece at least two months, if not longer. When was the last time you worked on a feature story for two months? This year I’ve worked on a total of one piece that took that long, and it was nowhere nearly as complex.
This is the kind of long-form non-fiction that’s getting a lot of hype thanks to the advent of online-only publishers such as Byliner and The Atavist. It’s also the kind of investigative journalism that nonprofits such as ProPublica began pursuing back in 2008 when the newspaper industry started to tank.
It’s nice to know that newspapers – at least some of them – still have the resources to invest in such important public service projects.