The Roys Summer in Italy – Vulture
If you didn’t watch Succession in 2021, I am not sure how to relate to you. I respect your right to choose but ... not really? Anyway, this profile of the show’s cast shooting on location in Florence and Rome (no spoilers!) by Hunter Harris is a treat for fans. Brian Cox really is grumpy! No-one wants to hang out with Jeremy Strong! It’s good stuff.
Sinead Stubbins, deputy branded content editor

The Fall of Armie Hammer: A Family Saga of Sex, Money, Drugs and Betrayal – Vanity Fair
In 2018, Armie Hammer stood mere metres from me at the Adelaide premiere of Hotel Mumbai – him very much in the VIP area, me very much not. He was even more towering a presence than I expected. Then, in 2021, he’s a … cannibal? But that’s not even the half of it. This engrossing piece went beyond the headlines flooding our social-media feeds, ducking and weaving through his – and his family’s – ominous past, his movie-star sheen dulling with every paragraph. I started reading it on the tram home and finished two stops further than I was supposed to go.
–Tomas Telegramma, Melbourne editor

Sunisa Lee, The Gymnast – the New York Times
I am obsessed with gymnastics. I can’t get my head around the skill and fearlessness of the gymnasts. I was on mat leave during the Olympics this year, which meant I could spend an inordinate amount of time on multiple screens watching athletes like Sunisa Lee – the 2020 Olympic all-around champion – do extraordinary things with and to their bodies, often in the air, often at speed. This extraordinary feature about Lee, produced prior to her winning Olympic gold, gave me an even greater appreciation of gymnasts’ artistry and athleticism.
Katya Wachtel, editorial director

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Pasta for the Pandemic – Grub Street
Way back in 2020, lasagne emerged as the definitive comfort food for Australians enduring a lockdown. Turns out the US wasn’t far behind. This Grub Street piece examines the attraction of the multilayered dish for both the maker and the eater, and details various methods top New York chefs apply in perfecting their version, from weighting overnight, to rolling, to a cacio-e-pepe cross.
Ellen Fraser, executive producer

A Secretive Hedge Fund Is Gutting Newsrooms – the Atlantic
Facebook and Google cop a lot of flak for undermining journalism. But their “crime”, if you can call it that, is at least one of apathy. In seizing the digital ad market they’ve starved news outlets of revenue – unintentionally. The sinister Alden Global Capital, on the other hand, is gutting decades-old newsrooms from the inside for the sole purpose of making money. This piece is a gut-wrenching look at the slow-motion destruction of trusted local news outlets in the United States, a crumbling, politically fractured empire that needs the Fourth Estate now more than ever.
Nick Connellan, publications director

We Asked Science if Rats Can Actually Cook Like in ‘Ratatouille’ and It Said No But We Kept Pushing Anyway – Eater
Did I love this story mainly for its headline? Honestly, yes. Whoever wrote this knew it would be impossible to resist reading, and as someone who writes a lot of headlines for a living I have mad respect for that. Hell, I haven't even seen Ratatouille and I clicked. As for the story itself, the premise of building a 900-word investigation around whether a rat can cook is absolutely absurd, but I appreciate the writer's tenacity. I didn't know before that a rat could be trained to recognise medium-rare steak, or that female rodents show great cognitive flexibility. And I wouldn't know those things if I hadn't read this hare-brained romp of an article.
Che-Marie Trigg, Sydney editor

His Name Was Emmett Till – the Atlantic
“In 1955, just past daybreak, a Chevrolet truck pulled up to an unmarked building. A 14-year-old child was in the back.” So begins this harrowing, deeply moving investigation into the traumatic murder of young Emmett Till, who was tortured and lynched in a Mississippi barn by a group of white men after being accused of flirting with a white woman in town. The abhorrent crime, and subsequent trial and acquittal, was a strong catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement in the United States in the 1950s and ’60s. But in this story, the high-profile nature of the incident is pared back, exploring its very personal impact and legacy. At all times, the barn looms with a menacing and melancholy presence; a painful but all-important reminder of where hate can lead. Till’s cousin Wheeler Parker and friend Simeon Wright – two of the last people to see Till alive as he was kidnapped from their shared bedroom at gunpoint – both express how his brutal murder has haunted their lives. Sixty years later, Wright’s response to revisiting the barn provides a moment of heartbreaking clarity: he simply shook his head and said, “I’m not ready yet”.
Louise Baxter, subeditor

The Death and Life of a Great British Pub – the Guardian
“It is possible to feel deprived of a vanished pub even if it was one you never made use of, just as a church can be reassuring to the irreligious – for being redoubtable, bracingly old, with doors more often open than not. Pubs are potent and strange like that. You can take against one on instinct, even when it meets every idiosyncratic item on your wants list, then fall, hard, for a shithole. You can step inside an unfamiliar pub and know immediately, in the belly, that you have made an error. And you can step into another and think: second home.” This is from 2015, but I read this year and it’s still relevant.
Marcus Teague, branded content editor

What’s in a name? – Gourmet Traveller
Last year, confectionary company Allen’s replaced the racist names of some of its lollies. This year, one of Australia’s most popular cheeses got the same treatment, with Cheer replacing a decades-old name that’s a racist slur against people of colour. Some restaurants are also making changes; many in Australia have adopted the word makrut for a lime that’s better known by a reference considered offensive in many cultures around the world. But even as we see a gradual shift towards more respectful language among big corporations and individual operators, why are we still seeing new hospo businesses in Australia with names that are derogatory, casually racist or lazily problematic? It’s an issue journalist Yvonne C Lam interrogates in this story, giving air to the conversations many are having and highlighting the ongoing consequences of simply letting these things slide.
Emma Joyce, national assistant editor

Who Is The Bad Art Friend – the New York Times
I am off Twitter right now, which mostly makes me feel smug (though I do miss reading the Ridiculous Viral Story of the Week). If you don't know what a 'Bad Art Friend' is, you're in for a wild ride. What starts off as a story about the ethics of storytelling and plagiarism, turns into a tale of revenge, betrayal and a court-ordered subpoena of a group chat. Oh, and kidneys. That bit is very important.
Sinead Stubbins, deputy branded content editor

Shame and the Performance of Vulnerability – Kill Your Darlings
This is a beautifully written meditation by Lucia Osborne-Cromley, author of My Body Keeps your Secrets, on the toll of sharing our stories – even when we have chosen to do so. As someone who has just published a raw, vulnerable book, I felt seen by this piece. There’s a paradox in revealing layers of ourselves to the world; it can feel like both freedom and imprisonment, with curated fragments often mistaken for the whole. Writers are brave souls, but there is a price of admission involved – and there’s a solidarity in recognising that.
Louise Baxter, subeditor

Wretched Excess: The So-Bad-It’s-Bad “House of Gucci”The Ringer
If you like reading about movies, you might enjoy the shade thrown on one of the world’s most famous directors and his movie by Toronto-based film critic Adam Nayman. “It’s so plodding that, with apologies to Sir Ridley [Scott] and his pious Luddite act, it almost feels like it was made to be watched at home while scrolling through random websites.” I also love this: “How ironic that a movie that keeps paying lip service to the importance of handmade craftsmanship would feel so indifferently stitched.” Nayman is clearly not a fan – yet he also makes me want to see it. “A lingering close-up of premium beef carpaccio is easily the most gluttonous shot of the year.” Now that’s excellent film writing.
Sarah Norris, national editor