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#NPRreads: 4 Winning Stories To Tackle This Weekend

Whitney Houston sings the National Anthem before Super Bowl XXV — the New York Giants against the Buffalo Bills — at Tampa Stadium on January 27, 1991. The Giants won 20-19.
George Rose
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Whitney Houston sings the National Anthem before Super Bowl XXV — the New York Giants against the Buffalo Bills — at Tampa Stadium on January 27, 1991. The Giants won 20-19.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

From political reporter Sam Sanders:

Writing about music is hard. Whether the topic is good or bad, you always have to think that the reader would just rather hear the song than read words about it. In this ESPN Magazine piece looking back on Whitney Houston's iconic national anthem performance at the 1991 Super Bowl, you get to do both.

Because her rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" is so etched in the national consciousness, you hear it as you read and watch the author, Danyel Smith, connect the dots between Whitney and that song, and black pain, and the war on terror, and just about everything else. It's all quite a feat, and it easily could have failed. Can one song, one performance, really mean so much? In short — for this song and that singer and this author — yes.

From digital editor Steve Mullis:

We're often told by parents and teachers that we can "be whatever we want to be when we grow up." Compulsive con man Jeremy Wilson — at least that's the name he is currently charged under, but still might not be his real identity – seems to have taken that idea and just run with it.

The New York Times story of Wilson's 25 years spent making up lives — from a veteran of Afghanistan to a Cambridge-trained thespian — is an engrossing tale of fraud and deception.

Wilson has spent so long molding and shaping himself into different characters that even his sister says, "He doesn't know where the lies stop and the truth starts anymore."

After reading the story, you wonder about the idea of identity itself. Is it who we think we are, who we pretend to be or simply who a collection of official documents say we are?

From Eliza Barclay, a reporter and editor for NPR's Science Desk

I've long been fascinated by the work of the Army's food scientists, who are always on the cutting edge. Four years ago, I wrote about a sandwich the Army invented that can stay fresh for two years.

This Tech Insider piece intrigued me because it described a new Army project that marries two emerging trends — personalized nutrition and 3-D food printing:

"By 2025, soldiers will likely be wearing a device to measure their physiological or nutritional status. The wearable may be inside the experimental "Iron Man suit" or something else, but the idea is that it would send personal data back about the soldier.

"Once the data reaches back to a base camp or field kitchen, it might show a soldier hasn't eaten enough protein today, or that they've been awake for quite a while and could use some extra caffeine. This is where the 3-d printer works its magic."

From NPR Visuals supervising editor Kainaz Amaria:

This is not an easy story to read.

Even I, an Indian-American journalist, turned away. It was my first instinct when I heard that a 23-year-old physiotherapist had been brutally gang-raped and murdered in Delhi. I wasn't ready for the details.

Soon people began taking to the streets. India and the world could no longer look away.

Nine months after the 2012 attack, The Guardian's Jason Burke chronicled the events of that evening and what followed. By the third paragraph he gutted me, describing the assailants:

"These were not serial sex criminals, psychopaths or brutalised men from the margins of society. Their backgrounds were, perhaps more worryingly, like those of tens of millions of Indian men."

(Take a breath.)
(Continue reading.)

By the end of Burke's reporting, you'll feel the grief and anger of a nation struggling to make sense of a senseless crime. And while debates over sexism and patriarchal attitudes flare and fade, Burke leaves us with a scene inside the victims' family home – a home given to them by the Delhi authorities. "I console myself by saying she was a good soul, set free in death," her father said.

Burke just left his post in India – he has covered south Asia for six years. All that's left to say is thank you.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.
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