If you are interested in women’s soccer, obscure foods, and the tortured lives of Congressional Medal of Honor winners, last weekend’s Wall Street Journal provided hours of Gatorade for your thirst for quality content.
As a writer I appreciate a well-researched and written piece. As a former magazine editor, I know what it takes to put together a readable monthly publication. I can only applaud the editors of the Journal who produce a superb publication five days a week and an absolutely brilliant one on the weekend.
As the supposed competition, The New York Times and Washington Post, have deteriorated into political rags and the TV competition from the networks plus NPR are now biased jokes, the Journal shines like a ruby. On the financial side, Bloomberg is a legitimate challenger, but only on the business news.
I decided to read the WSJ weekend issue cover to cover over the recent holiday and was blown away by the quality and variety of articles. Let me give you a brief review of just a fraction of this one issue.
On Page One was a photo of Dakota Meyer, a recent Congressional Medal of Honor winner, under the caption “Medal of Honor’s Heavy Burden.” It directed you to the “C” section for the piece by Michael Phillips, so appropriate for Memorial Day weekend. Phillips’ article was a 2000-word series of interviews with CMH recipients beginning with 71-year-old Gary Beikirch who received the Medal in 1973 for his actions in Vietnam. Beikirch’s captioned quote was, “it is harder to live with the Medal that it was to earn it.” He was a Green Beret medic whose unit was attacked by North Vietnamese at a Special Forces outpost on the Laotian border. He was badly wounded but continued to treat his comrades while he was carried on the shoulders of two Vietnamese aides.
When Gary arrived home, “filled with rage and racked by guilt,” he decided to head for New Hampshire and live in a cave in the White Mountains, looking for “the peace and contentment he had lost in the jungle.” He took classes at a local seminary, and a few weeks after moving he found a note in the local post office instructing him to call the Pentagon. He called and found out about the CMH award and that he had an appointment to visit President Nixon. He met Nixon, who fitted the star-spangled blue choker and wreathed medal around his neck. A couple days later he returned to the cave with the Medal in his duffle bag. He did not take it out for seven years.
Phillips’ soulful article continued with interviews with Ron Shurer, Flo Groberg, and Dakota Meyer, all of whom were wounded heroes who saw their comrades die. They are all living with the hell of the day that won them the CMH. They all wish that day, that brought them personal fame and honor, had never occurred. Dakota Meyer says “it represents the worst day of my life.”
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I read at least a dozen more memorable articles in this one newspaper. There was a long, thoroughly researched piece on Huawei Technologies, the Chinese electronics firm which epitomizes the America-China discord regarding intellectual property theft, and competition between the two countries. Five Journal writers had the byline on this article, detailing how Huawei plays the game of business. It was a damning article, but one written without an obvious editorial edge. It chronicled numerous lawsuits filed by electronics firms, large and small, illuminating Huawei’s ruthless pursuit of technical knowledge by any means available, including copying competitor Cisco’s products so closely that bugs deliberately left by Cisco and typos in the manuals were in Huawei products. A comprehensive, beautifully researched Journal piece.
Next to the Huawei article was one on Novartis attaining approval for a gene therapy cure that treats an inherited disease called spinal muscular atrophy which kills most babies it afflicts by the time they are two years old.
There was also a fascinating feature about the hunt for the next “superfood,” mostly in obscure locations in West Africa. Entrepreneurs like Phillip Teverow are looking for the next quinoa and kale. He was pushing “fonio,” which looks a lot like golden sand, at Whole Foods in Brooklyn trying to get adventurous eaters to give it a try. The writer, Jessica Donati, also discussed moringa, a chewy green “energy plant” and baobab fruit from the biblical “tree of life.”
Also on the front page of the weekend Journal was the beginning of an in-depth article on Tesla and what its falling stock price was all about. Written by Charley Grant, it was a thorough piece about Elon Musk’s challenge to establish Tesla before the rush of electric car competitors start to really challenge the company and before their cash runs out. Elon Musk is probably the most interesting and gutsy entrepreneur in the world. This article told us how close to the edge he continues to run.
Another piece tucked in the back of the “Off Duty” section by their auto writer, Don Neil, reviewed the new Audi e-tron and compared it to Tesla Model X. According to Neil it fell short of the Tesla in several significant ways.
I could keep going about the two hundred different unique articles in this one issue. But one that will stay with me is an op-ed piece by Burgess Owens, a former NFL player for the Oakland Raiders and today a writer and entrepreneur.
His great, great, great grandfather came to America shackled in a slave ship. He was sold at an auction in Charleston, South Carolina, but eventually escaped with others via the Underground Railroad to Texas and ultimately became the owner of 102 acres of farmland and an entrepreneur.
In the article, Owens decried the notion of reparations for African Americans as divisive and demeaning for whites and blacks. “The idea of reparations demeans America’s founding ideals. A culturally Marxist idea promoted by socialists, reparations denies the promise granted by God that we are truly equal.” He called it a cynical ideology promoted by an elitist class to divide us.
The Wall Street Journal is a consistent masterpiece of variegated content. Last weekend’s issue was truly remarkable.
Question: What are you reading these days? What have you given up?