paper trail

The Daily Beast's new columnist; blogger Eliot Higgins launches new investigative-journalism site

Eliot Higgins

Eliot Higgins, the blogger best known as Brown Moses, is launching a new web site in early 2014, devoted to his specific and resourceful brand of investigative journalism, which relies heavily on public data, social media, user-generated content, and open-source technology. Higgins has been tracking the Syrian civil war since 2012, with an eye toward munitions and the movement of weapons. The new, as-yet-unnamed web site, however, is set to pursue a broader mission, melding classical reporting skills with the most up-to-date fact-finding tools: "I don't want it to be old journalism vs new journalism,” Higgins says. “I want them to work together because this new stuff, investigations using open sources, can inform traditional methods."

Political satirist and author P.J. O’Rourke (Eat the RichHolidays in Heck) has joined the staff of the Daily Beast, for which he will write a weekly column titled “Up to a Point.” The Daily Beast is “not predictable in its politics,” O’Rourke said in a statement. “And even though I’m pretty politically conservative, the whole idea of having to be constantly predictable on your politics is just exhausting and stupid, because you’re leaving out half of the stupid things that people do—you know, the half you agree with.”

On Point has posted an interview with New York Times writer and memoirist David Carr, who discusses Jeff Bezos’s purchase of the Washington Post, Edward Snowden’s leaks, Time magazine’s decision to name the pope the latest “person of the year,” and other big media stories of 2013.

On the New Yorker’s book blog, Rachel Syme considers our reading habits with regard to history, lurching from, say, the months required to plow through the brick-sized volumes of Robert Caro to the fleeting seconds of distraction with a Twitter feed. “For better or worse, this is how we interact with the past now,” she writes. “The lists of nostalgic curiosities compete with thousand-page tomes.” In the work of the British historian Richard Holmes, Syme discovers an alternative.

Why do fans of the Hunger Games series tend to avoid the Twilight books and vice versa? Ben Blatt tries to answer this question by doing a “comprehensive textual analysis” (and throws in Harry Potter for good measure). He finds that Suzanne Collins, Stephanie Meyer, and J.K. Rowling favor very different adjectives.