This week, respected high-brow magazine The New Yorker announced plans to become accessible. The publication will produce more web-exclusive content, redesign their site and, most excitingly, let everyone read digitized content of all issues of the magazine since 1997… for the next three months. When the time is up, much of that content will go back under a new paywall, modeled after the one used by The New York Times.
Many of the magazine’s long, thoughtful and well-researched investigative features concern the ongoing issues of economic and social inequality. Below, we’ve selected ten such articles. We strongly suggest you read or save these pieces of vital journalism for later, when the paywall goes up.
Get Out Of Jail, Inc.
by Sarah Stillman
There’s an entire world of injustice you’ve probably never heard of — for-profit probation services and “alternatives to incarceration.” Stillman travelled the country and conducted countless interviews with judges, lawyers, local politicians and the unfortunate people stuck in these appalling systems that squeeze money out of the poorest among us. It’s a harrowing read.
“They really don’t care what you do, as long as you hand over your money,” a student in his twenties told me outside the J.C.S. office in Montgomery, where he was dropping off his payment. “It’s like paying protection to the Mafia.” He shrugged, gave a small laugh, and climbed back into the rusty Jeep he’d driven, illegally, to make the payment—his license had been suspended, but he had to report regularly to the J.C.S. office for his payments in order to avoid jail.
by Nathan Heller
A thorough breakdown of the ongoing controversy over inequality perpetuated by the tech industry’s invasion of the Bay Area. The intentions on all sides of the battle are questioned, and the disparate lives of these characters are painted vividly.
What’s going on in San Francisco has been called a “culture war,” and yet the values each side espouses can sound strikingly similar. Protesters like those outside Davies Hall have fought for open and eclectic urban life. They want broader social-support systems; they’re angry about the Man’s systemic abuses. These are, at least in theory, values on which tech’s pursuits rest. Techies tend to have strong feelings about immigration barriers (they’re against them), universal health care (for that), and environmentalism (a big deal). In their minds, there’s no industry more closely aligned with the quirky culture of San Francisco—so why now, after decades in the region, are they being attacked as interlopers from the wrong side of the ideological divide?
Death Of A Revolutionary
by Sudan Faludi
A chronicle of the life, politics and tragic demise of the feminist radical Shulamith Firestone, who is known as one of the founders of radical second wave feminism. Firestone descended into mental illness in her later years and Faludi’s piece serves as a retrospective of her life and accomplishments after her death.
But going to the roots of inequality, Firestone believed, was what set radical feminism apart from the mainstream movement: “The end goal of feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself: genital difference between human beings would no longer matter culturally.”
City Of The Lost
by David Remnick
Go inside the immense Syrian refugee camp, Jordan’s Za’atari. It’s the second largest refugee camp in the world, with 120,000 people.
Since the revolt began in Syria, more than two years ago, the death count has passed a hundred thousand. In Za’atari, the dispossession is absolute. Everyone has lost his country, his home, his equilibrium. Most have lost a family member or a close friend to the war. What is left is a kind of theatrical pride, the necessary performance of will. “This place is a graveyard for camels,” a refugee in his thirties named Ahmed Bakar told me one morning. “Camels can’t even live here. But Syrians can.”
The Caging Of America
by Adam Gopnik
An overview of the massive issue of incarceration facing America, how we got here, and how we can get out. The damaged caused by mass incarceration is sobering in its scope, even when looking its effects on one individual life. Certainly one of the most important subjects of our time and something that will define our nation as we move into the future.
The scale and the brutality of our prisons are the moral scandal of American life. Every day, at least fifty thousand men—a full house at Yankee Stadium—wake in solitary confinement, often in “supermax” prisons or prison wings, in which men are locked in small cells, where they see no one, cannot freely read and write, and are allowed out just once a day for an hour’s solo “exercise.” (Lock yourself in your bathroom and then imagine you have to stay there for the next ten years, and you will have some sense of the experience.)
Trial By Twitter
by Ariel Levy
Investigating the aftermath of the Steubenville rape case. In an age when internet outrage can have a big impact on the real world results of important human rights cases, it’s vital to examine the outcomes.
McCafferty knew Goddard when she lived in Steubenville; she dated his partner. “And I thought I was friends with her,” he said. But he felt harassed by her, and beset by bloggers and social media in general. Earlier this year, his e-mail was hacked, and someone posted online a fifteen-year-old photograph of him in Jamaica, holding a drink and wearing nothing but a G-string with a bow tie on the front. “They want to hang me and my department,” he said. Asked who “they” were, he replied, “Twitter.”
by Ian Frazier
This piece attempts to give a face to the throngs of homeless people currently living in New York City — the highest number since the Depression. Frazier highlights people who slip through the complex and frequently ineffective systems in place to help them and the invisibility of their struggle.
“They spend so much money on us. It costs three thousand dollars a month to put one family in a shelter! Why don’t they just give us part of that money so we can afford our own place to live?”
What We Left Behind
by Dexter Filkins
The somber results of our misguided invasion of Iraq, which helped to fuel the current civil war plaguing the country. A good guide to the complicated situation in the country today.
Two years after the last American soldiers departed, it’s hard to find any evidence that they were ever there. Blast walls still stand outside office buildings, but only a handful of Americans remain, shuttling around the capital to help Iraqis use U.S. military equipment, and to drill for oil. Iraq has become one of the world’s largest oil producers, but little of the profit reaches ordinary citizens; Baghdad is as drab and trash-strewn as before, its skyline mostly unbroken by new construction. It’s as though the residents were still too exhausted to celebrate the calm that descended in late 2008, not entirely trusting that it would last.
A Mission Gone Wrong
by Mattathias Schwartz
Why are we still fighting the war on drugs when authorities on every level agree it has failed? Schwartz connects the dots from Nixon’s creation of the DEA to succession of laws by mostly Republican administrations that has fueled this endless, pointless war.
Overseas, however, the U.S. approach to drugs still looks a lot like war. The D.E.A., assisted by the U.S. military, acts as an international police force, coördinating with foreign militaries through a network of offshore bases. Of the twenty-five billion dollars that the federal government spent fighting drugs last year, forty per cent went to treatment and prevention programs. The rest went to “supply reduction.”
by Sarah Stillman
An exploration of the morally questionable practice of using untrained convicted drug users as informants for high profile narcotics cases. The informants are put themselves in great danger to lessen their own punishments for what is frequently a low level drug offense, often resulting in their death.
Every day, offenders are sent out to perform high-risk police operations with few legal protections. Some are juveniles, occasionally as young as fourteen or fifteen. Some operate through the haze of addiction; others, like Hoffman, are enrolled in state-mandated treatment programs that prohibit their association with illegal drugs of any kind. Many have been given false assurances by the police, used without regard for their safety, and treated as disposable pawns of the criminal-justice system.