If you read “The Case of Jane Doe Ponytail,” published in The New York Times in 2018, you’re likely to remember it. The award-winning story recounted the life and death of Song Yang, a Chinese woman who came to the United States with dreams of becoming an American citizen, but who ended up dying after falling from a building during a raid on the illicit massage parlor where she was employed as a sex worker.
Now you can read the story with annotations by its author Dan Barry, explaining how he crafted the heart-rending narrative. It’s an outstanding lesson in the hows and whys of narrative craft and in-depth reporting.
The annotations in red are questions asked by Nieman Storyboard; the annotations in blue are Barry’s answers.
This is how it begins:
And, 9,500 words later, this is how it ends:
You can find the full, annotated story on Nieman Storyboard.