Mr. Grann's is the type of story that must be read by every student of reporting -- and by every deadwood hack who has ever tried to wring poetry from journalism.
It supports my hunch that great journalism is not about mushy platitudes or feel-good prose, but, rather, about exploring -- and with luck, exposing -- jarring truths.
Mr. Grann exposes a particularly jarring truth: How, in an arrest culminating in an execution, the state of Texas failed justice -- failed it systematically via the due processes of trial, appeal, and clemency -- thus realizing Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's eerie old fear (expressed via a concurring opinion joined by Anthony Kennedy in Herrara v. Collins (1993)):
[T]he execution of a legally and factually innocent person would be a constitutionally intolerable event.But the real reason I blog about Mr. Grann's penetrating story is Elizabeth Gilbert of Houston, Texas, the citizen investigator whom he spotlights.
Ms. Gilbert is a friend-of-the-underdog activist whose selfless effort -- even though she ends up buoyed-up by her prisoner subject -- is an example in perseverance, particularly for wannabe citizen journalists.
Check out Ms. Gilbert's tenacious compassion in the must-read story, here. Meanwhile, to Mr. Grann I say, take a bow.