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#NPRreads: 4 Of The Week's Most Compelling Stories

Patrick Semansky

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

FromAll Things Considered assistant producer Becky Sullivan

Last year's Rolling Stone UVA debacle showed that reporting about rape isn't just difficult to do well – it's disastrous when it's bungled.

This week ProPublica and The Marshall Project co-published a story called "An Unbelievable Story Of Rape." It's one of the most thoroughly reported and most well-written stories I've seen this year.

The story alternates between two narratives: first, a woman who believes she was raped but faces skepticism from both the police and the people closest to her. She ends up recanting and being charged with false accusation. The second narrative follows a pair of Denver investigators looking into a series of seemingly connected reports of rape by a rapist with a very careful M.O. At first, the story seems like a simple comparison of a good investigation vs. a bad investigation – until it's revealed that it was the same rapist in both narratives.

According to CNN Money, the victim's attorney wrote to one reporter, T. Christian Miller, telling him that another reporter – Ken Armstrong – had already been in touch. Miller wrote to Armstrong, and the two news outlets decided to collaborate rather than both rush to beat the other to the story.

It's also especially timely. Just the day before this story published, Department of Justice issued new guidelines for local police departments to follow when investigating cases of sexual assault.

From arts desk associate producer Rose Friedman

If you saw this long read and thought "I'll save that one for later," now is the time to dig in. According to the New York Times, in 2012 six Afghan men were brought to an American outpost near the village of Kalach, where they were badly beaten, with stones dropped on their chests and water poured on their faces. One of the men died. This week three Times reporters published the results of an investigation into the attack. What they found is devastating – reports that it was carried out by Navy SEALS, endangering not only the lives of the local population, but the whole goal of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. The fact that each was later cleared by the SEAL command is just one reason you'll want to read this piece in its entirety.

From digital editor Joe Ruiz

We know prostitution exists whether we see it or not, but do we know all the pieces of the puzzle and the people who are hurt the most?

This piece from Al Jazeera America examines how some cities are focusing their attention more on the people who buy sex, those who would pimp out women, and those who do the same to children who can't consent.

It's an in-depth article that introduces the reader to women who are trying to help others get out, as well as advocate on behalf of young girls who are trafficked and abused by men who pay for the chance to do so. We also learn about the johns, the pimps, and the police officers — tasked with learning how to treat girls and women they once saw as criminals — as the victims they are instead. Here's a line from the piece:

"When they describe the things they've seen — looking for missing girls as young as 11 or seeing what one violent pimp or another did to a girl — their cop masks, the face of calm while cuffing a john or questioning a stoned passenger of a hot-boxed car about missing girls, drop for a moment."

From Washington desk reporter Sam Sanders

It was really this line that got me, just after the author described Little Richard as the Holy Ghost: "He sounds like the last man on earth singing the first song ever written." That was when I knew that Oxford American's profile of Richard Wayne Penniman, self-proclaimed creator of rock & roll, was going to be, in my opinion, damn near perfect.

David Ramsey's piece "Prayers For Richard" does so much so well: it succinctly tells Richard's life story, it fills us in on what he's up to now (and how he's suffering), and it takes a man lots of people know of but few people know about and makes him real and multi-dimensional.

And perhaps what makes this piece work most is how the author beautifully captures the tension present in Richard's whole life, and in a way, the defining characteristic of so much of popular black music: the struggle between the sacred and the secular.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.
Joe Ruiz
Rose Friedman is an Associate Editor for NPR's Arts, Books & Culture desk. She edits radio pieces on a range of subjects, including books, pop culture, fine arts, theater, obituaries and the occasional Harry Potter-check-in. She is also co-creator of NPR's annual Book Concierge and the podcast recommendation site Earbud.fm. In addition, Rose has edited commentaries for the network, as well as regular features like This Week's Must Read on All Things Considered.
Becky Sullivan has been a producer for NPR since 2011. She is one of the network's go-to breaking news producers and has been on the ground for many major news stories of the past several years. She traveled to Tehran for the funeral of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani, to Colombia to cover the Zika virus, to Afghanistan for the anniversary of Sept. 11 and to Pyongyang to report on the regime of Kim Jong-Un. She's also reported from around the U.S., including Hurricane Michael in Florida and the mass shooting in San Bernardino.
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