In a world where you have more options for satisfying longform reading than ever, your friends at Flavorwire are taking the time once a week to highlight some of the best that in-depth journalism has to offer. Whether they’re unified by topic, publication, writer, being classic pieces of work, or just by a general feeling, these articles all have one thing in common: they’re essential reading. This week, we’re highlighting five excellent pieces nominated for a 2015 National Magazine Award.
The Oscars weren’t the only nominations we learned about today — the ASME (the American Society of Magazine Editors) also announced its nominations for the best media of last year. Here’s the complete list. Out of the many deserving pieces that are up for an award, here are five works that stayed with us:
“The One I Get and Other Artifacts,” by Carol Ann Davis, The Georgia Review, Winter 2014
A poignant and poetic essay about terror; specifically, the terror that occurs when you have two children who very well could have been witness to a school shooting. It speaks to the way that life barges in on what should be the idyllic innocence of childhood.
“Inside the Iron Closet: What It’s Like to Be Gay in Putin’s Russia,” by Jeff Sharlet, GQ, February 2014
Vladimir Putin’s Russia is enforcing laws that say that gay people are a threat to Russian values. In this piece, Sharlet travels to Russia to see just how these laws, restrictions, and attitudes are affecting the gay community in a place where “civil society is coming undone.”
“Shame and Survival,” by Monica Lewinsky, Vanity Fair, June 2014
“It may surprise you to learn that I’m actually a person,” Lewinsky writes, and in this surprising essay, she confronts her notorious past. Forever perceived as “That Woman,” the naive intern whose affair with Bill Clinton nearly brought down a presidency, Lewinsky’s public humiliation and the stigma it left have trailed her throughout her adult life. Here, she makes us question our lack of empathy for her plight.
“You’re 16. You’re a Pedophile. You Don’t Want to Hurt Anyone. What Do You Do Now?” by Luke Malone, Matter, August 2014
It’s easy to take someone’s aberrant sexuality and write something that’s exploitative, pointing at their problems like a freak show. This piece, a rightfully difficult read, does a brilliant job introducing us to one troubled young man, his urges, and how he is trying to change and survive in a society where his wants are frightening and criminal.
“The Witness,” by Pamela Colloff, Texas Monthly, September 2014
As the public information officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and in her previous life as a reporter, Michelle Lyons has been present for over 250 executions. This piece is a moving look into how a job watching death changes the path of Lyons’ life.