Document of the Day: Annotating “The Case of Jane Doe Ponytail”

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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:

Screenshot from Nieman Storyboard.

And, 9,500 words later, this is how it ends:

Screenshot from Nieman Storyboard.

You can find the full, annotated story on Nieman Storyboard.

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