Is there like an IgNobel Awards but for the Pulitzer?
Like for all the stuff we jokingly say should get a Pulitzer, like the raccoon green bin investigation and the story about men getting into the bath balls last.
— neville park (@neville_park) September 29, 2018
What are the Kibitzers? The Kibitzers are to journalism as the IgNobel Prizes are to science. They reward reporting that captures human nature, current events, and the world around us in a way that leaves you asking, “What the fuck did I just read?” Many pieces are genuinely unique and useful; others, not so much.
Throughout this hell year I’ve been avoiding the news for my sanity, so I’ve obviously missed a lot. Late nominations are heartily welcome.
Headline of the Year
🎆THE WINNER OF 2020 HEADLINE OF THE YEAR🎆 pic.twitter.com/t2NPpABEST
— Paul Fairie (@paulisci) January 1, 2021
Like so many media outlets, I will not do any original research of my own and simply use someone else’s social media post. Paul Fairie, who runs the Headline of the Year contest on Twitter, recently announced this year’s winner: “Hospital angrily denies snake discovered in operating theatre, insisting there was only a monkey”, by Tom Embury-Dennis for the Independent. However, here are a few others from my bookmarks:
- Ben Sales, “Woman, 70, gets naked and takes shower during the Zoom bat mitzvah of Gilbert Gottfried’s daughter”, Jewish Telegraphic Agency
@SFist: “The Bay Area saw no new COVID-19 deaths today for the first time in three weeks, a local bartender and spirits maker was arrested on child porn charges, and the Richmond man found eating his dead grandmother has been charged with her murder.” (Arguably just a tweet, not a headline.)
Edit: I can’t believe I forgot Bossip, the undisputed 2020 Headline MVP. For example, their post-election hed:
Hot Damn Joe, Here We Vote Again! Kandy-Korn-Kolored Disenfranchiser-In-Chief Donald Trump Dragged From White House By His Flimsy Faux Follicles As Adjudicatory Americans Bang The Gavel On His Raggedy-Ass Presidency
— Bossip (@Bossip) November 7, 2020
Correction of the Year
- The Atlantic’s over 900-word explanation on how, um, embellishments in the infamous Ruth Shalit Barrett’s story on niche rich-kid sports fell through the cracks.
NOTE: This story has been updated. Alexander Vindman received a Purple Heart after being wounded by an IED, or improvised explosive device, not an IUD, or intrauterine device. We regret the error.
Due to a verbal misfire, “self-flagellation” was rendered as “self-flatulation” in an earlier version of this story. Though tempted to leave the nonsensical neologism as is, we have fixed the spelling for clarity.
- Jason Parham, “Muscle Giants, Zoom Orgies, and the New Erotics of Isolation”, Wired. (Via Alexandra Petri.)
Journalistic Integrity Award
Imagine a reporter came to you, an editor, and said "I just need to declare something: I fell in love with a source,” then you said, okay, what’s the damage, and she said “it’s Martin Shkreli.” How many times would she have to say it before you stopped laughing and called HR?
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) December 21, 2020
- Christie Smythe, as profiled by Stephanie Clifford in “The Journalist and the Pharma Bro”, Elle.
Ruth Shalit Barrett and The Atlantic—RSB for making shit up, and The Atlantic for hiring her—for the aforementioned Correction of the Year-winning piece.
Microsoft’s AI-powered editor is “facing accusations of racism after it confused different mixed-race members of Little Mix.”
Maria Iqbal, “4 Tips On Wearing A COVID-19 Mask, From A Niqabi”, Chatelaine. Actually incredibly useful and I’m surprised this didn’t launch a trend of imitations.
Kyle Casey Chu, “Mask 4 Mask: COVID-19 face coverings are changing queer cruising”, Xtra
Arts: Britt Hayes, “A Conversation With the Guy Who Took Mushrooms and Saw Cats”, Birth.Movies.Death. A relic from the Before Times.
Food: Rachel Handler, “Why Is There a Bucatini Shortage in America?”, Grub Street. A surprising tale of weaponized FDA requirements.
Animals: Madeleine Wells, “‘He has screamed relentlessly’: Feral peacock divides Oakland neighborhood”, SFGAte. Mood, am I right?
Broadcast Journalism: Jeanette Reyes and Monica Kosar Abdi, “How anchors spill the 🍵️”, TikTok
Anything I should have included? I know there’s got to be better headlines out there, and I’m still seeking nominations for the Best New York Times White Nationalist Platforming category. Let me know in the comments!