3 GREAT STORIES: Starring Atlanta, U.S. cities, & uniforms

Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

I have always found American cities majestic.

Recently, I have often wondered how they got here.

For example, could we today build another New York City, specifically, the spectacle of bunched skyscrapers known as Manhattan? Probably not, right? Modern cities — meaning those growing in the age of the automobile — spread outward, not upward.

I am fascinated by this stuff. I am reading a great book right now called Regime Politics, by Clarence N. Stone. It discusses how Atlanta’s city government and business elite worked together to transform the city during the latter half of the 20th century. Since I live in Atlanta and, as a journalist, often examine its strengths and weaknesses, I have found myself fully engaged by this book.

Here are three great stories from last week in journalism, all of which — at least partially — answer the question: How do cities work?

How to fall in love with your city (4/22/14, Bitter Southerner): I’ll admit it: This story warmed my Atlanta heart.

A friend recently turned me on to the Bitter Southerner, a new web site that publishes one article a week about Southern culture. The articles share two traits:

1) They focus on a positive, uplifting part of the South, a region that often gets negatively stereotyped.

2) They look gorgeous.

I enjoyed the site’s story two weeks ago about Atlanta Braves great Hank Aaron, and I found myself captivated again this week. Writer Chuck Reece examines the #weloveatl Instagram movement, which has encouraged numerous Atlantans to submit more than 50,000 photographs that showcase what makes the city great.

The movement is powerful; so is Reece’s well-written and well-presented story.

The revolt of the cities (May/June 2014, American Prospect): This story, meanwhile, tackles the topic of urban growth with a more clinical look on a nationwide level.

And it’s fascinating.

Harold Meyerson spotlights an interesting trend: several major American cities, helmed by Democratic leadership, have become the incubators of many of President Obama’s wishes. He cannot get Congress to cooperate with his agenda, so he has instead turned to a powerful coalition of mayors.

But that observation is part of a larger piece about how urban centers have turned into Democratic stalwarts — and what such a majority has enabled their governments to do.

Masters of the Uni-Verse (4/22/14, 99% Invisible): Fun fact: any story that plays a Jerry Seinfeld routine within its first 30 seconds will automatically have my attention.

The great Roman Mars does so in his latest episode of 99% Invisible, which uses said Seinfeld routine to launch into 15 minutes about … sports uniforms.

With an assist from NPR’s Jesse Thorn and Uni Watch blogger Paul Lukas, Mars examines our “unique form of brand loyalty” to the uniforms of our favorite teams, and he does so in an enjoyable, analytical, and engaging manner.

Have a suggestion for “3 Great Stories of the Week”? E-mail me at matt@tellingthestoryblog.com.

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