Ends on November 30, 2018

Spring 2019, Issue 82: Broke


For too many of us, there may be no adjective that captures the current national mood better than “broke.” Democracy, capitalism, higher education, healthcare: The systems that govern our collective lives, the ones in which we’ve put our trust, and the ones that mark the difference between thriving and barely surviving are objectively, inescapably broken; and their detritus can’t help but cloud the lens through which we look at the world and our places in it.

For issue 82, we’re seeking reportage, analysis, and commentary that looks at where the multiple meanings of “broke” reside: the “breaking” news that underrepresented people have always known, the broken pipelines to success in a rigged meritocracy, the language of wealth and class in shaping media. And, since we’re not trying to bum everyone out, the creative breakthroughs that are changing language, pop culture, and connection.

Here are a few prompts:

  • Examine the impact and legacy of the 24-hour news cycle
  • Explore the culture of scientific "breakthroughs" that reify conventional wisdom about gender
  • Survey the pop-culture products that portray precarity with the nuance it requires
  • Investigate shifting media narratives about disability and mental illness
  • Scrutinize the various systems that force people into crowdfunding and other alternative funding for their basic needs
  • How does socioeconomic class factor into who gets a fair shake in the criminal-justice system?

KEY WORDS: poverty, wealth, mortality, democracy, health, possibility, urgency, discovery, class, aspiration, education, capitalism, celebrity, amorphous, visibility, crowdfunding, justice