Sunday, January 6, 2013

2012 - Year In Review (Favorite Articles/Blogs/Final Words)

For my articles of the year. I picked articles that were thoughtful, informative and clear. Articles with great storytelling or just wizardry with words. Stuff that made me want to get better as a writer/witness. Here we go.

Jonathan Abrams – Oral History of the Malice at Palace
(I've praised him much this year and this was one of my favorites. Breaking down that night in 2004 when all hell broke loose. My goal for 2013 - meeting Abrams at NABJ)

Will Leitch – The Fall of Rick Reilly
(Not meanspirited but almost sad looking at a great writer out of place at ESPN)

Dan Wetzel – Tom Brady after the Super Bowl
(It's hard to write greatness on deadline but Wetzel did it. The timestamps to set the scene, Gisele crying out, Brady's emotions, the sad locker room. It was storytelling at it's best. Wetzel should also be commended for his stellar reporting on the Jerry Sandusky trial)

Ta-Nehisi Coates – Fear of a Black President
(Few articles influenced me more this year. When Black people become successful and cross over, what becomes of them.  I explored that in several blogs this year but Coates was brilliant in doing this with the most powerful Black man in America, Trayvon Martin and more)

Bill Simmons - Celebration of LeBron being a champion
(Simmons looked at how LeBron was challenged. Boston questioned his manhood, how Dwayne Wade's injury was key and how Game 6 vs. Boston changed everything in an instant. The Finals was a formality for his excellent postseason.

Andreas Hale – Chief Keef editorial
(One of my favorite hip-hop writers takes people to task for supporting Chief Keef in the wake of his behavior. Somebody has to stand for integrity and doing better and Hale, along with few others, is excellent with that.)

Kurt Streeter - Rodney King feature and Dorsey's (now Washington State freshman) Jeremiah Allison and his mother.
(I'm biased because Kurt is a friend who was a great help in 2012. But he's also a fantastic writer who can dig into the cracks to pull out great information. Rodney King passed this year so this story is a wonderful glimpse into the troubled soul that became a modern face of civil rights.

John Sullivan (NY Times) – Venus/Serena Against the World
(Great insight into the Williams sisters support system. Richard and Oracene Williams should be equally hailed as parents who steered a tight ship and drove their girls to be the greatest sports siblings in history)

Best Blog Posts
Merc80 on the Nicki Minaj/Hot 97 feud this summer
(One of my favorite bloggers/Tweeters/thinkers from my city brought up some great points for Nicki to consider, especially in the second half. Whether or not somebody likes your music (or a particular song), you make a statement by not running away from a conflict instead of backing down like a child.)

Dart Adams on Joy in Repetition (Enjoying Watching Greatness Repeatedly)
(My favorite blogger shares why he studies great pieces of film, literature, music over and over. You study the greats to become great - something that I do often with my literary fathers Baldwin, Dickens, Halberstam and more. This graph stands out as motivation, inspiration and understanding the creative process.)

It wasn’t simply a matter of being a glutton for punishment or a masochist, it’s more to remind myself to never lose sight of why I write. To not appeal to the lower common denominator but to strive for greatness. To ask myself if I shamed the brilliant writers that came before me by not at least trying to continue to follow their shining examples. I needn’t worry about trying to imitate them because that’s damn near impossible. I can carry their spirit within me and emulate them to a point but there’s no way I can do anything else. I simultaneously realize that it’s alright I’m not as great as they are and that I can be great in my own right by just using my voice and writing the best possible way I know how to.

2012 definitely brought some more great writing for me to read. It also saw me inspired to write more and I can say that I wrote some of my best work this year. Just challenging myself to think beyond the obvious, write when inspiration strikes without delay and I was able to write pieces that I had thought about for years but never put down.

Few things in my life have been more fulfilling than my 5-part series on the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots. It made me look at the riots differently and it helped me understand my city and several communities a lot more. I'm incredibly proud of what I discovered and I hope folks will appreciate what I learned.

If I gained anything from the NABJ Convention in New Orleans this summer, it's to never stop challenging myself. Don't wait to write before somebody else does it. Expand your horizons - hence me branching out into vidoes. With that said, here's 12 of my favorites Gumbo posts this year.

1. Niggas in Paris (a look at how we got to this word being accepted in a Top 5 pop hit)
2. Super Bowl XLVI recap.
3. Part 1 and Part 2 of Discussing the Tragedy of Trayvon Martin
4. Wondering Out Loud on Sportswriting's Future
5. My tribute to The Morning Jones
6. Tolerance vs. Respect - The most popular blog post on the Gumbo this year.
7. Gods and Monsters – final words on Penn State
8. Social Media/Branding
9. The Curse of Integration - My Response to "Fear of a Black President"
10. Ranting on the NCAA
11. The Newtown/American Epidemic
12. LeBron Becoming Neo

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