Best Reason to Read 'The New Yorker' (2009)

Kelefa Sanneh

Seymour Hersh has the impeccable stats, the arts critics are, by and large, a murderers' row, and Hertzberg's got a certain gentlemanly leftist rage on lock, but the best reason to read The New Yorker these days is Kelefa Sanneh, the youthful refugee from The New York Times who was scooped up in a savvy move early last year. His debut in the mag was "Project Trinity," a remarkably coherent and speedy summing up of the career of Reverend Jeremiah Wright at the exact moment that the rest of the news media was scrambling to get a handle on the guy. The piece also contained some of the most trenchant racial analysis that had ever appeared in the 84-year-old magazine—not, all in all, a bad start. Since then, Sanneh has written everything from a remarkably neutral profile of the right-wing talk show host Michael Savage, a handful of TV reviews, and—drawing on the skills that once made him the Times' most compelling music critic—the definitive portrait of the elusive singer-songwriter Will Oldham. His presence brings a welcome versatility to the magazine and, better yet, a sensitivity toward both youth and black culture that was previously sorely missing from the otherwise nearly bulletproof institution.


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