There’s a phrase used to describe the universe of things that journalists know: “A mile wide and an inch deep” (and yes, it’s also used to describe a lot of other professions). I still have random facts in my head gleaned from 35 years of reporting about everything from livestock indemnification by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to loopholes in Maine law that allow part-time legislators to hide millions of dollars in contracts they award to organizations they work for. Not everything in a story sticks in a reporter’s brain, but I can almost sound like an accountant when I talk about those “related-party transactions.” Just don’t ask me any follow-up questions.

But one of the pleasures of working at The Conversation is how we can produce stories at a deeper level than an inch thick. That was evident in a story we published this week, called an “essential read,” that rakes into a pile the work we’ve published on a certain subject – in this case, about the symbols carried by insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Politics editor Jeff Inglis wrote the essential read, which walks readers through five scholars’ accounts of the meaning behind the variety of symbols on display that day. Jeff had originally commissioned two of the stories, and says that he did so because he wanted to know at a deeper level what was behind the insurrection:

“Those symbols are how these people are declaring their identities and motivations,” he said. “I wondered what they were saying about themselves and their views of the country.”

Many of the groups that took part in the January insurrection are planning to return to the U.S. capital for a demonstration on Saturday. The event is billed as a show of support for those facing criminal charges for the January riot. As Capitol Police gear up for the demonstration, our essential read arms you with facts that will help you understand what those demonstrators are saying, in symbols, not just in words.

Naomi Schalit

Senior Editor, Politics + Society

The U.S. Capitol Police are making security preparations for the planned rally. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Capitol Police prepare for a return of insurrectionists to Washington – 5 essential reads on the symbols they carried on Jan. 6

Jeff Inglis, The Conversation

Groups who share support for white supremacy say they are planning to return to the nation’s capital for a demonstration to support those arrested for their roles in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Gavin Newsom’s victory could provide a national strategy for Democrats. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

California’s political standing among Democrats a big winner in Gavin Newsom’s recall victory

Raphael J. Sonenshein, California State University, Los Angeles

The state’s Democratic governor held off an attempt to oust him by some margin. His victory provides a pathway for the national party, and a reminder of the mobilizing power of the state.

Tyson Foods is one of the companies that already said it would require workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. John Konstantaras/AP Images for Tyson Foods

Who’s covered by a vaccine mandate? Here’s a quick guide to America’s patchwork of COVID-19 shot requirements

Debbie Kaminer, Baruch College, CUNY

Overlapping vaccine mandates at the federal, state and local levels aims to reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans.