The 2020 Kibitzers

The 2020 Kibitzer Prizes

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

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:

Edit: I can’t believe I forgot Bossip, the undisputed 2020 Headline MVP. For example, their post-election hed:

Correction of the Year

Scrolling through the 900-word Atlantic article apology

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.

Journalistic Integrity Award

  • 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.”

Service Journalism

Miscellaneous

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

The Alvin Plantinga Prize for Best Inadvertent Celebrity Vox Pop: Boston 25 News’s Nicole Oliverio interviewing area man Jarome Iginla on driving in snowy weather.


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!

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