paper trail

More on the closure of “The Believer”; Summer Brennan goes deep on the viral Bad Art Friend story

Summer Brennan

At Gawker, writer and former Believer intern Nicholas Russelll reflects on the magazine's nearly twenty-year history and questions the official narrative about why the publication is closing: “While the official record supplied by BMI and UNLV paints a picture of an unfortunate, but ultimately pragmatic decision to ‘focus on its core mission,’ the reality is less noble. Callous mismanagement and a lack of care overshadowed the good work being done at the magazine.” The closure comes a few months after Joshua Wolf Shenk, the editor in chief of The Believer, resigned after exposing himself during a Zoom meeting. After the incident, the staff of the magazine wrote an open letter charging harmful working conditions under Shenk’s leadership.

For the New Yorker, Marella Gayla reviews Jay Caspian Kang’s new book: “The subject of ‘The Loneliest Americans’ is the broad incoherence of Asian American identity, but what Kang writes about most lucidly is the way that upwardly mobile Asians like him—the ones who were raised and educated in the U.S., and are now queasily enjoying the lives that their parents always wanted for them—have made it so.”

On October 28th, the National Book Foundation and the Texas Book Festival will host a virtual event with National Book Award longlisters.

Summer Brennan goes deep on the Bad Art Friend story in her newsletter, A Writer’s Notebook. Brennan reviews court documents, emails, social-media posts, and texts and finds that much of the conventional wisdom about the viral New York Times Magazine article is not quite true: “Yes, there was a woman who donated a kidney. Yes, there was a short story about a kidney donation, an accusation of plagiarism, and a lawsuit. The kidney donor is white and the short story writer is an Asian American woman of mixed white and Chinese descent. But the rest? Not so much.”

The Sidney Hillman Foundation is offering a “Reporting the U.S. Workplace” program for reporters looking to cover labor issues at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.