News & Politics

Top 10 AlterNet Stories of 2000

What do media criticism, Ralph Nader, concern about the drug war and a little sexual titillation all have in common? They topped the list of best selling AlterNet stories for the year 2000.
What do media criticism, Ralph Nader, concern about the drug war and a little sexual titillation all have in common? They topped the list of best selling AlterNet stories for the year 2000. These leading AlterNet stories, which are published in alternative weeklies across the country, are ranked by a combination of frequency of purchases and revenue production.

As usual, the number one bestseller was the review of Project Censored's "Top Ten Censored Stories," prepared by AlterNet staff, which continues to be a staple of many weeklies.

In a strong second place was "On the Road with Ralph," one of the first articles to capture the early enthusiasm for the Nader campaign, penned by Hartford Advocate editor Janet Reynolds.

Third place went to an AlterNet original written by Karynn Fish and Adam Smith, "How the Drug War Harms, Not Helps, Kids." This definitive piece sharply captured the hypocrisy of the drug war and explained how our current wrong-headed polices are making drugs stronger, more dangerous and more plentiful for American youth. Fish and Smith are veterans of the online Drug Reform Coordination Network (, and will be part of a new AlterNet project called, launching in April with the new AlterNet portal.

Hayes Reed of the Sacramento News & Review made a big impact on altie readers with the fourth place AlterNet story, "I Want My SUV," a provocative piece that captured both the lust for and the appalling nature of the Sports Utility Vehicle plague. Reed also penned the popular "Living the Game," a chronicle of one man's decent into the role-playing fantasy world of Ultima Online.

In fifth place is another annual story, "The P.U.-litizer Prizes for 2000." The P.U.-Litzers -- a tribute to the corporate media's stinkiest performances -- are rounded up each year by longtime media critics Norman Solomon and Jeff Cohen.

Michael Moore jumped onto the Nader bandwagon with the number six story, "Bush and Gore Make Me Want to Ralph," a muckraking attack on the Democratic and Republican parties that energized many Naderites.

"X-rated eBay," by LA Weekly freelancer Deborah Picker, grabbed the number seven slot. A playful "investigation" into the naughty side of online auctions, the story's lead sentence said it all: "I made $14 selling my used panties on eBay."

Number eight was "Let me Talk to a Supervisor," a tragicomic piece by East Bay Express freelancer Erika Donald about what actually happens when you demand to speak to a higher-up in whatever customer service chain-of-command is driving you crazy at the moment.

Two equally powerful pieces tied for ninth place. "Gore in the Balance," best-selling author Mark Hertsgaard's plea for Al Gore to live up to his environmental rhetoric, was originally written for the online magazine Grist. And "Drug Rush," Stephen Pomper's investigation into the FDA's shoddy drug approval process, originally appeared in the Washington Monthly.

Tied for tenth were two AlterNet features: Tamara Straus's critical review of Robert Putnam's controversial book "Bowling Alone," and another media piece by yours truly, Don Hazen, called "Consumers Likely on the Short End as AOL Gobbles Up Time Warner."

Top runner-up stories included "Clone Jesus," by Robert Masterson of the Hartford Advocate, and "How the U.S. Torpedoed the Global Climate Talks," another Grist article by well-known author Bill McKibben. Also near the top were two Boston Phoenix articles: Michelle Chihara's "There's Something About Lucy," (a smart piece on the emergence of Asian sex symbols like Lucy Liu) and Audrey Schulman's "The Male Pill" (a look into how sexual politics have impacted the development of birth control pills for guys). Other runners-up were "Four Arguments for the Avid Consumption of TV" by the Northern California Bohemian's Jack Stentz, and "Bush Bought by Phony Grassroots Groups," by AlterNet intern and Stanford student Katherine Lemons.
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