[ March 1, 2007: The second week's roundup is here. ]
Feb. 22, 2007: Welcome to our first SAJA Byline Roundup, featuring articles by Shankar Vedantam, Viji Sundaram, Chitra Ragavan, Fareed Zakaria and others.
The idea here is to highlight recent work by SAJAers, whether or not there's anything desi about it. We're taking suggestions, and it doesn't matter if the byline's from a big or small publication or broadcast outlet (and although we call it "the week in bylines," we're not rigid on dates). We also welcome pointers to stories on which SAJAers served as producers or editors. We will, however, try to keep the work of SAJA Board members to a minimum, unless they do big, national stories. We're also noting op-eds. We will list the journalists and their stories in no particular order and will try to put the spotlight on one and interview him or her to get the story behind the story. If we miss your work this week, we'll get it into our next roundup.
Please, pretty please, if you do e-mail us at arunvenu[at]gmail.com: put the words "SAJA Byline Roundup" in the subject line. Many thanks to Rupa Dev for combing the SAJA galaxy. And send us your feedback below.
This week, we're highlighting the work of Washington Post reporter Shankar Vedantam, who's established an outstanding column there called the "Department of Human Behavior" (you can see all his columns, back to Aug. 2006 at that link). He tells SAJAforum...
"The basic idea behind my column is that everyday news events are a great window into deeper issues. An election can tell you a lot about how people form and maintain groups, a controversy about a sports star in the soccer world cup final can tell you about the culture of male relationships, and a disaster can show you how the groups we belong to influence us at a subtle level in a crisis. Each week, I pick a topic in the news and then go looking for insights from the social sciences that speak to that news event. I avoid opinion and talking heads as much as possible and rely on experimental results.
"My preference for empirical data makes the column harder to report and write, but I want to draw a clear distinction between genuine insights that are supported by solid evidence on the one hand and punditry/pop-psychology on the other. Besides finding it online, readers can also see the column on Page Two of the newspaper every Monday.
"For an idea that is quite cerebral, the column has proven remarkably popular with readers -- a measure, I think, of the hunger that out there for journalism that is about ideas. The war in Iraq has probably been the issue I have returned to most often, and the issue that has generated the most feedback from readers. While I certainly get my share of hate mail, the overwhelming bulk of the feedback I have received has been positive. (Surprise!) Even better, I have received hundreds of letters that are thoughtful and insightful -- several of which have led to ideas for new columns. Hmmm. You treat readers like they are grownups with brains and they respond like grownups with brains. Go figure."
- A Game of Magic Leaves Reality on the Sidelines (Feb. 5, 2007).
- In Boardrooms and in Courtrooms, Diversity Makes a Difference (Jan. 15, 2007). He discussed the piece on NPR's "Morning Edition" (Jan. 15, 2007)
- Shaila Dewan of The New York Times has been filing a series of in-depth stories out of New Orleans about post-Katrina progress or lack thereof. Her page one story is an indictment of various levels of government: "Fed-Up New Orleans Residents are Giving Up" (Feb. 16, 2007).
- Sunil Dutta, a sergeant in the Los Angeles Police Department (who is working on a memoir, "From Punjab to South Central Los Angeles") writes an op-ed about the death penalty, which he calls a vestige of medievalism, in The Nation: "Kill the Death Penalty" (Feb. 26, 2007).
- Viji Sundaram, health editor of New America Media, discusses how rising health care costs and increased regulations are causing uninsured to seek new health options: "Back-Alley Medicine? Uninsured Seek New Health Options" (Feb. 9, 2007)
- Fred de Sam Lazaro, correspondent for "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" on PBS, was in India last month, shooting several stories. The first of those, on concerns about electronic waste, aired on Feb. 19: "India's E-waste" (mp3 audio stream).
- US News & World Report chief legal correspondent Chitra Ragavan writes in the famed "Washington Whispers" column about Congressional inquiries about possible politicization by the Justice Depart of the hiring and firing of government attorneys: "Congress Is Interested In Odd Departures Of U.S. Attorneys" (Feb. 7, 2007).
- Richmond (Virginia) Times-Dispatch writer Kiran Krishnamurthy reports on a local Marine's death in Iraq: "Sniper Kills Spotsylvania Marine in Iraq" (Feb. 9, 2007).
- Newsweek International managing editor and columnist Fareed Zakaria has a provocative headline in this column that ran in both the domestic and international editions: "Global Warming: Get Used To It" (Feb. 19, 2007).
- Fortune senior writer Stephanie Mehta discusses the future of Sling Media’s ability to post live television on the web: YouTube without the lip synching dudes (Feb. 5, 2007)
Seen a story you liked? Or did one yourself you want us to highlight? Then e-mail arunvenu[at]gmail.com and put the words "SAJA Byline Roundup" in the subject line. And post your comments below.