September 2015 | Hillman Foundation

Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

September 2015

Hillman Judge Ta-Nehisi Coates Wins MacArthur Genius Grant

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Courtesy of Ta-Nehisi Coates. 

Hillman Judge Ta-Nehisi Coates has been selected to recieve a MacArthur Genius Grant for his work in journalism, social criticism and memoir. The $625,000 grant is awarded to exceptionally creative people. It provides a stipend for five years with no strings attached: 

“We take ‘no strings’ quite seriously,” said Cecilia A. Conrad, the foundation’s managing director. “They don’t have to report to us. They can use the funds in any way they see fit.” [NYT]

Coates, the author of the best-selling memoir, Between the World and Me, is one of 24 outstanding winners. This year’s MacArthur fellows include a cutting-edge brain researchers, visual artists, economists, and a puppeteer. 

Sidney’s Picks: Homeless City Workers, Pesticides, and Nazi Memorabilia

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David Shankbone, Creative Commons.

The Best of the Week’s News

Sidney’s Picks: Secret Arms Deals; C.J. Chivers; and Slavery

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Nicoliee528, Creative Commons.

The Best of the Week’s News

  • Would you buy a used missile from this company, known as Purple Shovel?
  • Constitutionally, slavery was a national institution.
  • C.J. Chivers retires from war reporting after fourteen storied years. 
  • 6 hours for work, 8 hours for sleep, 10 hours for what we will: Sweden experiments with shorter work days at full pay.

Charlie Pierce wins September Sidney for "Love and Death in New Orleans"

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Andrew Whitacre, Creative Commons.

The Sidney Hillman Foundation is very proud to announce that veteran journalist and political commentator Charlie Pierce has won the September Sidney Award for “Love and Death in New Orleans, a Decade After Hurricane Katrina,” a haunting feature for Esquire

Read more about Pierce’s reporting process in The Backstory with Lindsay Beyerstein. 


Nos Faltan 43: New Inquiry Raises Doubts on Fate of Missing Mexican Students

Photo credit: 

Lindsay Beyerstein. 

An independent inquiry casts doubt on the Mexican government’s claim that the bodies of 43 missing normal school students, who disappeared from the state of Guerrero last fall, were incinerated in a rubbish pit in Cocula:

The Mexican government said that the students were killed and incinerated in a rubbish dump because they were mistaken for members of a drug gang. However, the 500-page report released on Sunday underlines the inconsistent and at times contradictory confessions of detainees, who have since claimed they were victims of torture, as well as questions the justifications given by the federal authorities for not acting to stop the attacks.

“This report provides an utterly damning indictment of Mexico’s handling of the worst human rights atrocity in recent memory,” said José Miguel Vivanco, director of the Americas division at Human Rights Watch.

The report is the result of a 6-month inquiry by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission. Forensic experts told investigators that the official account was physically impossible. In their opinion, it would have been impossible to cremate so many bodies so completely with so little fuel. People who were supposedly involved in the disposal of the bodies told IAHRC investigators that they produced the official story under torture. Medical records seem to validate the torture allegations.

Sidney's Picks: Left in the Silica Dust

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Silica dust, Creative Commons. 

The best of the week’s news…