paper trail

The beleaguered humanities

Toni Morrison

BuzzFeed News has added two new reporters: the Financial Times’ Borzou Daragahi (as a Middle East correspondent) and the Washington Post’s Anup Kaphle (covering world news). Additionally, their current Middle East correspondent, Sheera Frenkel, will begin covering cybersecurity. Meanwhile, as Gawker grilled Buzzfeed’s editor-in-chief and its CEO on the “church and state” deletion of posts about their advertisers, they seemed keen to measure up as a new paper of record. Wouldn’t the New York Times think twice about reporting on its own ads, Jonah Peretti wondered? And Ben Smith called it “both scary and flattering that we have replaced the Times as the number one target for Gawker.”

At NPR Books, Saeed Jones reviews Toni Morrison’s new novel: “Not only is God Help The Child about its own characters, it is about the conversation Morrison has been having with her readers for decades.” Jones wonders if she has been forced to carry more symbolic weight in the culture than anyone should: “Have we asked her to save us from ourselves one time too many?” Over at Fresh Air, though, Morrison talks about the freedom she finds in writing: “Nothing matters more in the world or in my body or anywhere when I'm writing. It is dangerous because I'm thinking up dangerous, difficult things, but it is also extremely safe for me to be in that place.”

The first winners of the Andrew Carnegie Fellowship have been announced. The new annual award (worth up to $200,000 to each recipient) is intended “to support research in the beleaguered humanities and social sciences”; as the head of the selection panel noted, “science and technology alone cannot solve the world’s most pressing problems.” Anyone still in doubt as to the social usefulness of the humanities may want to consult the medievalist who has offered some crib notes on religious history to readers of Dan Savage’s sex advice column.

Joshua Ferris—author of the first-person-plural office satire Then We Came to the End and the acidic story of online impersonation To Rise Again at a Decent Hour—is writing a series of articles for Popular Mechanics, in which he describes his experiences flying a single-prop plane. Part One: “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Fly the Damn Plane.”

Vulture persuaded Ta-Nehisi Coates to “take a timeout from kicking off national conversations about race and politics” and “don his fanboy cape” to talk about comic books. And elsewhere on the political spectrum, Rand Paul is starring in one.