Editor’s picks: Mary Turck’s top Daily Planet stories of 2010

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Bicycles, The Scottsboro Boys, Section 8 housing, NRP, the Academy Awards and the Minnesota legislature. The best of 2010?

As editor, it’s hard for me to pick just a few stories. Luckily, I don’t have the last, or the only, word on “best of 2010” stories. For my top picks, I chose stories that are not  in our other end-of-year features, such as the most-read stories (coming next week).

• Bicycles got lots of coverage in 2010, as the leading edge of coverage in Getting Around, the Daily Planet section about and for people who use the cities’ bike lanes, buses and trains to get around town. From bike lanes to bike libraries, and from North Minneapolis to Midtown Greenway to the Central Corridor, we covered transit in the Twin Cities.

The Scottsboro Boys coverage made me proud of the Daily Planet community. Sheila Regan’s strongly critical review sparked thoughtful and sometimes heated discussion in the comment section. Jay Gabler differed in his critical judgment, and the end result was a lively dialogue that enriched understanding of the play and the issues it addressed by “opening up a hornet’s nest of questions.”

• Housing is front and center in the news, with continuing high rates of foreclosures and still-growing numbers of homeless Minnesotans. Waiting, and waiting, for an affordable place to call home: Section 8 in Minnesota exemplifies the kind of reporting we hope to offer: solid, in-depth coverage of important issue, with insights from people whose lives are actually affected.

• NRP, the Minneapolis city budget, and property taxes made for a heated debate in November and December. We don’t have the resources to do in-depth analysis of how property taxes work and what tax increment financing does. Instead, we offered a platform for public officials and concerned citizens to offer their thoughtful opinions on the issue. In the year ahead, we’ll continue to get the people who are in the midst of the fray to talk about what they are doing and why.

• The Academy Awards are far beyond our usual Minnesota coverage, but the numbers show you loved it! Barb Teed demonstrated how far initiative, persistence and good reporting can take citizen journalism—all the way to the red carpet in Hollywood. Barb was the only Twin Cities reporter to be backstage at the Oscars, and gave our readers a uniquely Minnesotan perspective on the awards, complete with winner Pete Docter’s Oscar night shout-out to Bloomington.

• Minnesota legislature: The combination of Lawrence Schumacher’s Capitol Report and media partner Session Daily/Session Weekly, meant we had good coverage of what happened in Legislature – not always sexy, but always important.

In 2010, the Daily Planet published thousands of stories. In picking my favorites, I looked at our TC Daily Planet originals, which meant leaving out lots of great stories from our community media partners, as well as Free Speech Zone articles and blog posts.

I also looked at my own stories—more than 150 stories and blog posts in 2010. Lots of them are a kind of utility infielder writing, when a story needs to be told and there’s no other writer around to tell it. The stories I choose to write, and like the most, often focus in the areas of education (e.g., Turning around failing schools – a recipe that works or Once again with feeling: Achievement gap in Minneapolis schools), immigration (e.g., Globalization and immigration: What future for Minnesota? and “Me llevo a la migra”), and race (e.g., Twin Cities public health: Live long and prosper? or Working twice as hard to get half as far: Race-based employment gap in Minnesota).

During the last week of 2010, we’ll be looking at some other “favorite stories” lists, including Jay Gabler’s picks, most-read stories, and more. We invite you to join in the project in 2011—by writing an article or supporting the TC Daily Planet with a tax-deductible donation.