Vol 2, Issue 4 April, 2020

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This month, we are grateful for you, our Fifth Draft readers, and hope you are staying safe and healthy. We are also grateful for our current and former National Fellows and New America staff who have been writing throughout the coronavirus pandemic sharing their insights and reflections.

In an op-ed in the New York Times, New America CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter argues that while the virus is highlighting our weaknesses as a nation, it is also bringing out some of America’s greatest strengths.

2020 Fellow Daniela Lamas and New America board member Atul Gawande are on the front lines treating patients in Boston. Lamas shares her experiences in the ICU in the New York Times. And in the New Yorker, Gawande writes about the need to keep health-care workers from being infected. 2013 Fellow Sheri Fink has been reporting frequently and, most recently, writes about the crisis in one Brooklyn hospital in the New York Times. In the Atlantic 2020 Fellow Vann R. Newkirk II writes about the deepening crisis in Lousiana. 

For more coverage from New America you can sign up here for the Coronavirus Daily Brief, a daily news and analysis roundup edited by New America’s International Security Program led by Peter Bergen.

Awista Ayub
Director, Fellows Program

Hot Off The Press

Three questions with...
2019 Fellow Sarah J. Jackson

Your new book, #HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice, is about how marginalized groups use Twitter to advance counter-narratives, preempt political spin, and build diverse networks of dissent. Can you share a little bit about the origins of the project?

I remember being unable to pull myself away in 2011 when people across the Middle East and North Africa used Twitter to live-tweet what we’ve come to call the “Arab Spring.” It was clear then, through hashtags like #Jan25, that something important was happening in regard to ordinary people being able to connect, solidify, and promulgate social movement demands without the mediation of establishment media, but little was written about the U.S. context. In 2014 I watched ordinary Twitter users hijack a hashtag created by the New York City Police Department, #myNYPD, that was intended as a public relations effort and instead was taken over by stories of police brutality—that was when I knew I had to study this. The old logics about elites having the power to control the narrative really seemed to go out the window.

You are one of three co-authors for #HashtagActivism. What were the benefits and challenges of working collaboratively?

This was a dream team. In academia co-authorship is perhaps more common than in other kinds of publishing and the three of us worked together on projects prior to the book. I led the charge on theoretically grounding and organizing the project, but could not have written this particular book alone. My co-authors brought knowledge and skills that contributed to us painting a holistic picture. Moya Bailey is a digital humanist with deep ties to many of the Black feminist Twitter networks we studied and Brooke Foucault Welles is a network scientist who was able to teach us how to wrangle millions and millions of tweets and digital metadata into managable data that we could then contextualize within larger cultural and political frameworks. The biggest challenge to collaborative work was really only that it takes longer because you’re juggling three people’s schedules and visions!

Your first book, Black Celebrity, Racial Politics, and the Press, considers the role of black press and mainstream journalists in making sense of Black celebrity activism to the public. Do you see a throughline from that project to your current work?

Definitely. At the root of my first book, #HashtagActivism, and my New America project is a set of questions that have been central to my career: How do those who’ve been at the margins of American society because of racial hierarchies navigate the media environment to make themselves heard? How do media-makers respond to demands from these groups, and what does media made by or for marginalized publics do differently? And finally, what can we learn from the answers to these questions about the power of media, protest, and narrative in how we think about inclusion and justice in our democracy? Read my books to find out! :-)

View a recording of our recent #HashtagActivism webinar event with Sarah here

Two Cents

In Deep: The FBI, the CIA, and the Truth About America's "Deep State"

A two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist’s investigation of the "deep state."

Publication date: April 21. 

Available for pre-order through our bookselling partner Solid State Books here.

By: David Rohde

Learn More


A new podcast from the Atlantic about the people who survived Hurricane Katrina, and the aftermath of the storm.

By: Vann R. Newkirk II

Learn More

Two Cents

Fellows on how they step back and unwind after a challenging day or project.

1: I’m not sure about “unwinding,” but I do know I take naps on the couch in my office to help me transition and re-set between challenging, intense, and draining moments/tasks in my day. — Julia Ott, Class of 2020

2: Yoga or a glass of wine. — Sarah J. Jackson, Class of 2019

3: Ha! I cook for my family, try to clean up the house, do a bunch of emailing then pass out. (Is that too grim?) — Lisa M. Hamilton, Class of 2019

Two Cents

Patrick Radden Keefe won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction for his book Say Nothing. His book was also mentioned by the host of Pod Save the World in discussion of what books to read while in quarantine.

Sheri Fink wrote an article for the New York Times about the question of civil rights when it comes to deciding who will receive lifesaving medical care during the coronavirus emergency.

Daniela Lamas was interviewed on MSNBC about her recent New York Times op-ed and about life in the Brigham and Women's Hospital ICU during the COVID-19 pandemic. She was also interviewed on the subject on CNN, WBUR's CommonHealth, and WCVB, ABC TV's local affiliate in Boston.

Jill Filipovic wrote an op-ed for CNN about the public response to coronavirus.

Joshua Yaffa's book Between Two Fires was reviewed in Foreign Policy.

Marcia Chatelain was interviewed in the Chicago Tribune about her book Franchise.

Sarah J. Jackson's new book #HashtagActivism was excerpted in Ms. Magazine and Bitch Magazine.

Azadeh Moaveni's book Guest House for Young Widows was shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2020.

Molly Crabapple illustrated The Zo: Where Prison Guards' Favorite Tactic Is Messing with Your Head, a 3-part animated video series from the Marshall Project about life in prison. She was also interviewed on WBUR’s On Point about the series.

Franklin Foer wrote an article for the Atlantic about the state of the U.S. economy amid the COVID-19 outbreak and the moral failure of a government bailout.

Joshua Geltzer wrote for the Washington Post on how impeachment didn’t distract Trump, but rather revealed how he would handle coronavirus.

Masha Gessen wrote an article for the New Yorker about the need to envision the future in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

Reading this month

The top New America online events we recommend you check out. Now.



[ONLINE] - When Crises Unleash Your Imagination

Join Future Tense online for an interactive conversation to discuss how crises can unleash our imaginations. Learn More


[ONLINE] - More than Ready

Please join us in celebrating the launch of Cecilia Muñoz's new book More than Ready: Be Strong and Be You…and Other Lessons for Women of Color on the Rise. Learn More


[ONLINE] - In Deep

Please join us for the launch of David Rohde's new book In Deep: The FBI, the CIA, and the Truth about America's "Deep State." Learn More


New America Online Events

As an organization dedicated to the public good, New America believes we must do our part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Until further notice, all events will be held online. Visit the link to learn more and RSVP to all our online events. We look forward to you joining us! Learn More

Free Swag

Brilliant in its reporting and its humanity. She transcends the assumptions most people have about women who joined ISIS and introduces us to a vital, unfamiliar world of lived experience.

— Lisa M. Hamilton, Class of 2019

Learn More

Inspired by her own misdiagnosis of mental illness, Cahalan examines the famous psychology study in which a group of people went undercover in America's mental institution. She tells the story of this controversial and deeply misunderstood study and its creator, David Rosenhan. 

— Marcia Chatelain, Class of 2017

Learn More

Wilmington's Lie is a phenomenal book about the 1898 coup in Wilmington that's written almost like a thriller, but is also deeply researched.

— Vann R. Newkirk II, Class of 2020

Learn More

Free Swag

Our monthly swag give-away is on hold until further notice.

We hope everyone is staying safe and healthy, and that the Fifth Draft brings you a moment of contemplative peace and reflection.

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We are storytellers who generate big, bold ideas that have an impact and spark new conversations about the most pressing issues of our day.

The three who put this together

Sarah Baline + Sophie Nunnally + Awista Ayub

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