The Black Reporter Proved Right By History and a Fatal Tesla Crash: The Week in Narrated Articles


This weekend, listen to a collection of narrated articles from around The New York Times, read aloud by the reporters who wrote them.

Charles H. Loeb was a Black war correspondent whose articles in World War II were distributed to papers across the United States by the National Negro Publishers Association.

In an article for Atlanta Daily World, published in October 1945 — two months after Hiroshima’s ruin — Mr. Loeb told how bursts of deadly radiation had sickened and killed the city’s residents. His perspective, while coolly analytic, cast light on a major wartime cover up.

The piece contradicted the War Department, the Manhattan Project, and The New York Times and its star reporter, William L. Laurence, on what had become a bitter dispute between the victor and the vanquished. Japan insisted that the bomb’s invisible rays at Hiroshima and Nagasaki had led to waves of sudden death and lingering illness. Emphatically, the United States denied that charge.

But science and history would prove Mr. Loeb right.

Written and narrated by Miriam Jordan

With tens of thousands of immigrants helping to catalyze its development, Northwest Arkansas has emerged as one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolitan areas. Brimming with optimism, it is wooing newcomers with cheaper housing, a world-class art museum, upscale restaurants and forested bike trails.

But as much of the U.S. economy comes back from the coronavirus pandemic, the decades-long influx of immigrants that fueled such enormous expansion in places like Arkansas has begun to stall, posing challenges to the region and the country at large.

Written and narrated by Neal E. Boudette

George Brian McGee, a finance executive in Florida, was driving home in a Tesla Model S operating on Autopilot, a system that can steer, brake and accelerate a car on its own, when he dropped his phone during a call and bent down to look for it.

Neither he nor Autopilot noticed that the road was ending, and the Model S drove past a stop sign and a flashing red light. The car smashed into a parked Chevrolet Tahoe, killing a 22-year-old college student, Naibel Benavides.

One of a growing number of fatal accidents involving Tesla cars operating on Autopilot, Mr. McGee’s case is unusual because he survived and told investigators what had happened: He got distracted and put his trust in a system that did not see and brake for a parked car in front of it.

Written and narrated by Kevin Roose

For months now, the crypto-obsessed have been buzzing about the rise of “community NFTs,” or nonfungible tokens, a kind of digital collectible that combines the get-rich-quick appeal of cryptocurrency with the exclusivity of a country club membership.

Kevin Roose, a Times technology columnist, decided to join one such community, the Pudgy Penguins, out of boredom and a desire to explore a more serious undercurrent — for years, technologists have been predicting the rise of the “metaverse,” an all-encompassing digital world that will eventually have its own forms of identity, community and governance.

Written and narrated by Taylor Lorenz

Marissa Meizz was out to dinner with a friend in the East Village in Manhattan in mid-May when her phone started buzzing. Texts kept coming in, and they all wanted to know: Had she seen the TikTok video?

She clicked the link and a young man appeared onscreen. “If your name’s Marissa,” he said, “please listen up.” He had just overheard some of her friends say they were deliberately choosing to hold a birthday party when she was out of town that weekend. “You need to know,” he said. “TikTok, help me find Marissa.”

After getting in touch with the man who posted the video, which amassed more than 14 million views, Ms. Meizz confirmed that she was the Marissa in question and that it was her friends who had conspired to exclude her from their party.

Within days of her revelation on TikTok, Ms. Meizz received more than 5,000 messages. Strangers invited her to their birthday parties, housewarmings and weddings. Some who lived outside New York City asked if she could set up a post office box so they could be pen pals.

“I was like, OK, how can I use this to help people?” she said. The answer: Ms. Meizz decided to hold a meet-up.

The Times’s narrated articles are made by Parin Behrooz, Claudine Ebeid, Carson Leigh Brown, Anna Diamond, Aaron Esposito, Elena Hecht, Elisheba Ittoop, Emma Kehlbeck, Marion Lozano, Anna Martin, Tracy Mumford, Tanya Perez, Margaret Willison, Kate Winslett and John Woo. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Ryan Wegner, Julia Simon and Desiree Ibekwe.


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