2019 Favorite Stories

Louise Matsakis
4 min readDec 24, 2019

Every December, I collect the ten best pieces of journalism I read during the last 12 months. These are the stories I sobbed reading on long flights, the ones I immediately texted to everyone I know, and those that made me feel intense jealousy.

This year, I’m including 30 stories total. The first ten are general interest and the second ten are specifically about tech, since that’s what I write and read about the most. The last 10 are about China, a place that I made an effort this year to read about considerably more. The articles are in no specific order.

GENERAL INTEREST

  1. What if Your Abusive Husband Is a Cop? By Rachel Aviv in The New Yorker (September) An incredibly told, alarmingly urgent report about the intersection of domestic violence and unaccountable police power.
  2. Insurance Companies Are Paying Cops To Investigate Their Own Customers By Kendall Taggart in Buzzfeed News (August) Insurance is supposed to be a crucial safety net for civilized society. What happens when your insurance company turns against you?
  3. Women Are Fleeing Death at Home. The U.S. Wants to Keep Them Out. By Azam Ahmed in The New York Times (August) 2019 was full of heartbreaking stories about our inhumane immigration system. This one is particularly enraging and empathetically reported.
  4. Cash/Consent: The War on Sex Work By Lorelei Lee in N+1 (Fall quarter) I hope that in 2020, more publications choose to amplify the voices of people who have actually worked in the sex industry. Lorelei is an incredible writer, and I think about this piece almost every day.
  5. A Year Without a Name By Cyrus Grace Dunham in The New Yorker (August) One of the most vivid accounts of gender I have ever read.
  6. The New American Homelessness By Brian Goldstone in The New Republic (August) We are greatly underestimating the number of people experiencing homelessness.
  7. Health Insurance That Doesn’t Cover the Bills Has Flooded the Market Under Trump By Zeke Faux, Polly Mosendez, and John Tozzi in Bloomberg Businessweek (September) I felt so outraged reading this. Our healthcare system allows scammers to deliberately fuck people over.
  8. Stories About My Brother By Prachi Gupta in Jezebel (September) Prachi’s story is so important and beautiful; I don’t want to risk not doing it justice. Just read it.
  9. Can They Read? Greta Thunberg and her critics By Katy Lederer in N+1 (September) Opposing Greta Thunberg’s message often actually means lying about it.
  10. An Epidemic of Disbelief: What new research reveals about sexual predators, and why police fail to catch them By Barbara Bradley Hagerty in The Atlantic (August) There are a number of systematic reasons cops often don’t solve rape cases. The most important one is that police often don’t believe women when they say they’ve been raped.

TECHNOLOGY, BABY!

  1. How Google, Microsoft, and Big Tech Are Automating the Climate Crisis By Brian Merchant in Gizmodo (February)
  2. What It’s Like to Work Inside Apple’s ‘Black Site’ By Joshua Brustein in Bloomberg Businessweek (February)
  3. Why Are There So Many Weird Tech Patents? By Rose Eveleth in Slate (August)
  4. Amazon’s Next-Day Delivery Has Brought Chaos And Carnage To America’s Streets — But The World’s Biggest Retailer Has A System To Escape The Blame By Caroline O’Donovan and Ken Besinger in Buzzfeed News (August)
  5. How I Eat For Free in NYC Using Python, Automation, Artificial Intelligence, and Instagram By Chris Buetti on Medium (Self-Published) (February)
  6. Undercover agents target cybersecurity watchdog By Raphael Satter in the Associated Press (January)
  7. Imagine Being on Trial. With Exonerating Evidence Trapped on Your Phone. By Kashmir Hill in The New York Times (November)
  8. 1.5 Million Packages a Day: The Internet Brings Chaos to N.Y. Streets By Matthew Haag and Winnie Hu in The New York Times (October)
  9. Almost Everything About Goodreads Is Broken By Angela Lashbrook in OneZero (September)
  10. How the 1% Scrubs Its Image Online By Rachael Levy in The Wall Street Journal (December)

CHINA

  1. Inside China’s Massive Surveillance Operation By Isobel Cockerell in WIRED (May)
  2. TikTok — Yes, TikTok — Is the Latest Window Into China’s Police State By Isobel Cockerell in WIRED (September)
  3. The “Post-Truth” Publication Where Chinese Students in America Get Their News By Han Zhang in The New Yorker (August)
  4. Star Scholar Disappears as Crackdown Engulfs Western China By Chris Buckley and Austin Ramzy in The New York Times (This was published in August 2018, but I didn’t read it until 2019.)
  5. The Chinese Farmer Who Live-Streamed Her Life and Made a Fortune By Yi-Ling Liu in The New Yorker (October 2018, see previous.)
  6. ‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims By Chris Buckley and Austin Ramzy in The New York Times (November)
  7. The U.S. Is Purging Chinese Cancer Researchers From Top Institutions By Peter Waldman in Bloomberg Businessweek (June)
  8. She Accused a Tech Billionaire of Rape. The Chinese Internet Turned Against Her. By Li Yuan in The New York Times (December)
  9. China’s Influencers — Moms, Farmers and Even Dogs — Hawk Their Wares on Live Streams By Julie Wernau and Stu Woo in The Wall Street Journal (December)
  10. Mistrust and the Hunt for Spies Among Chinese Americans By Peter Waldman in Bloomberg Businessweek (December)

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