Best American Journalism of the 20th Century

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

The following works were chosen as the 20th century's best American journalism by a panel of experts assembled by New York University's journalism department.

  1. John Hersey: “Hiroshima,” The New Yorker, 1946
  2. Rachel Carson: Silent Spring, book, 1962
  3. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein: Investigation of the Watergate break-in, The Washington Post, 1972
  4. Edward R. Murrow: Battle of Britain, CBS radio, 1940
  5. Ida Tarbell: “The History of the Standard Oil Company,” McClure's, 1902–1904
  6. Lincoln Steffens: “The Shame of the Cities,” McClure's, 1902–1904
  7. John Reed: Ten Days That Shook the World, book, 1919
  8. H. L. Mencken: Scopes “Monkey” trial, The Sun of Baltimore, 1925
  9. Ernie Pyle: Reports from Europe and the Pacific during World War II, Scripps-Howard newspapers, 1940–1945
  10. Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly: Investigation of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, CBS, 1954
  11. Edward R. Murrow, David Lowe, and Fred Friendly: “Harvest of Shame,” documentary, CBS television, 1960
  12. Seymour Hersh: Investigation of massacre by American soldiers at My Lai in Vietnam, Dispatch News Service, 1969
  13. The New York Times: Publication of the Pentagon Papers, 1971
  14. James Agee and Walker Evans: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, book, 1941
  15. W.E.B. Du Bois: The Souls of Black Folk, collected articles, 1903
  16. I. F. Stone: I. F. Stone's Weekly, 1953–1967
  17. Henry Hampton: “Eyes on the Prize,” documentary, 1987
  18. Tom Wolfe: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, book, 1968
  19. Norman Mailer: The Armies of the Night, book, 1968
  20. Hannah Arendt: Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, collected articles, 1963
  21. William Shirer: Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent, 1939–1941, collected articles, 1941
  22. Truman Capote: In Cold Blood, book, 1965
  23. Joan Didion: Slouching Towards Bethlehem, collected articles, 1968
  24. Tom Wolfe: The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, collected articles, 1965
  25. Michael Herr: Dispatches, book, 1977
  26. Theodore White: The Making of the President: 1960, book, 1961
  27. Robert Capa: Ten photographs from D-Day, 1944
  28. J. Anthony Lukas: Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families, book, 1985
  29. Richard Harding Davis: Coverage of German march into Belgium, Wheeler Syndicate and magazines, 1914
  30. Dorothy Thompson: Reports on the rise of Hitler, Cosmopolitan and Saturday Evening Post, 1931–1934
  31. John Steinbeck: Reports on Okie migrant camp life, The San Francisco News, 1936
  32. A. J. Liebling: The Road Back to Paris, collected articles, 1944
  33. Ernest Hemingway: Reports on the Spanish Civil War, The New Republic, 1937–1938
  34. Martha Gellhorn: The Face of War, collected articles, 1959
  35. James Baldwin: The Fire Next Time, book, 1963
  36. Joseph Mitchell: Up in the Old Hotel and Other Stories, collection of much older articles, 1992
  37. Betty Friedan: The Feminine Mystique, book, 1963
  38. Ralph Nader: Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile, book, 1965
  39. Herblock (Herbert Block): Cartoons on McCarthyism, The Washington Post, 1950
  40. James Baldwin: “Letter from the South: Nobody Knows My Name,” The Partisan Review, 1959
  41. Nick Ut: Photograph of a burning girl running from a napalm attack, The Associated Press, 1972
  42. Pauline Kael: “Trash, Art, and the Movies,” Harper's, 1969
  43. Gay Talese: Fame and Obscurity: Portraits by Gay Talese, collected articles, 1970
  44. Randy Shilts: Reports on AIDS, The San Francisco Chronicle, 1981–1985
  45. Janet Flanner (Genet): Paris Journals chronicling Paris's emergence from the Occupation, The New Yorker, 1944–1945
  46. Neil Sheehan: A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam, book, 1988
  47. A. J. Liebling: The Wayward Pressman, collected articles, 1947
  48. Tom Wolfe: The Right Stuff, book, 1979
  49. Murray Kempton: America Comes of Middle Age: Columns 1950–1962, collected articles, 1963
  50. Murray Kempton: Part of Our Time: Some Ruins and Monuments of the Thirties, book, 1955
  51. Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele: “America: What Went Wrong?,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1991
  52. Taylor Branch: Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954–1963, book, 1988
  53. Harrison Salisbury: Reporting from the Soviet Union, The New York Times, 1949–1954
  54. John McPhee: The John McPhee Reader, collected articles, 1976
  55. ABC: Live television broadcast of Army-McCarthy hearings, 1954
  56. Frederick Wiseman: Titicut Follies, documentary, 1967
  57. David Remnick: Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire, book, 1993
  58. Richard Ben Cramer: What It Takes: The Way to the White House, book, 1992
  59. Jonathan Schell: The Fate of the Earth, book, 1982
  60. Russell Baker: “Francs and Beans,” The New York Times, 1975
  61. Homer Bigart: Account of being over Japan in a bomber when World War II came to an end, The New York Herald-Tribune, 1945
  62. Ben Hecht: 1,001 Afternoons in Chicago, collected articles, 1922
  63. Walter Cronkite: Documentary on Vietnam, CBS television, 1968
  64. Walter Lippmann: Early essays, The New Republic, 1914
  65. Margaret Bourke-White: Photographs following the defeat of Germany, Life magazine, 1945
  66. Lillian Ross: Reporting, collected articles, 1964
  67. Nicholas Lemann: The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America, book, 1991
  68. Joe Rosenthal: Photograph of Marines raising an American flag on Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima, The Associated Press, 1945
  69. Hodding Carter Jr.: “Go for Broke,” editorial, Carter's Delta Democrat-Times (Greenville, Miss.), 1945
  70. The New Yorker: The New Yorker Book of War Pieces, collected articles, 1947
  71. Meyer Berger: Report on the murderer Howard Unruh, The New York Times, 1949
  72. Norman Mailer: The Executioner's Song, book, 1979
  73. Robert Capa: Spanish Civil War photos, Life magazine, 1936
  74. Susan Sontag: “Notes on ‘Camp,’” The Partisan Review, 1964
  75. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein: All the President's Men, book, 1974
  76. John Hersey: Here to Stay, collected articles, 1963
  77. A. J. Liebling: The Earl of Louisiana, book, 1961
  78. Mike Davis: City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles, book, 1990
  79. Melissa Fay Greene: Praying for Sheetrock, book, 1991
  80. J. Anthony Lukas: “The Two Worlds of Linda Fitzpatrick,” The New York Times, 1967
  81. Herbert Bayard Swope: “Klan Exposed,” The New York World, 1921
  82. William Allen White: “To an Anxious Friend,” The Emporia (Kan.) Gazette, 1922
  83. Edward R. Murrow: Report of the liberation of Buchenwald, CBS radio, 1945
  84. Joseph Mitchell: McSorley's Wonderful Saloon, collected articles, 1943
  85. Lillian Ross: Picture, book, 1952
  86. Earl Brown: Series of articles on race, Harper's and Life magazines, 1942–1944
  87. Greil Marcus: Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock 'n' Roll Music, book, 1975
  88. Morley Safer: Atrocities committed by American soldiers on the hamlet of Cam Ne in Vietnam, CBS television, 1965
  89. Ted Poston: Coverage of the “Little Scottsboro” trial, The New York Post, 1949
  90. Leon Dash: “Rosa Lee's Story,” The Washington Post, 1994
  91. Jane Kramer: Europeans, collected articles, 1988
  92. Eddie Adams and Vo Suu: Associated Press photograph and NBC television footage of a Saigon execution, 1968
  93. Grantland Rice: “Notre Dame's ‘Four Horsemen,’” The New York Herald-Tribune, 1924
  94. Jane Kramer: The Politics of Memory: Looking for Germany in the New Germany, collected articles, 1996
  95. Frank McCourt: Angela's Ashes, book, 1996
  96. Vincent Sheean: Personal History, book, 1935
  97. W.E.B. Du Bois: Columns on race during his tenure as editor of The Crisis, 1910–1934
  98. Damon Runyon: Crime reporting, The New York American, 1926
  99. Joe McGinniss: The Selling of the President 1968, book, 1969
  100. Hunter S. Thompson: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, book, 1973

Sources +