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Our editors’ favourite articles of 2021

From imaginary bird battles to late night neuroses, these were the pieces we most enjoyed editing this year. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

At the start of this year you probably could have been forgiven for thinking we’d seen the end of the bulk of COVID coverage. But new strains, rolling lockdowns and a slow (but eventually close to world-leading) vaccine rollout kept us checking numbers and holding off on any holiday plans for much of it.

So when we asked our editors for their favourite stories of 2021, I thought we’d see a deluge of COVID related pieces. But even though it might have governed our lives, COVID barely gets a look in. And when it does, it’s maybe from an angle you wouldn’t expect.

From stories of imagined battles between iconic birds of prey, to the sustainability of timber used in guitar production, via a viral antique earworm, an Oodie or two and some late night neuroses, these are the stories that our editors have picked as their favourites to work on and read in the past year.

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 2

Wes Mountain

Multimedia Editor and Acting Digital Editor

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 3
Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 4

Women are (rightly) angry. Now they need a plan

Michelle Arrow, Macquarie University

Chosen by Alexandra Hansen, our Deputy Editor and Chief of Staff.

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 5

Why do we wake around 3am and dwell on our fears and shortcomings?

Greg Murray, Swinburne University of Technology

Chosen by Sunanda Creagh, our NSW Bureau Chief and Digital Storytelling Editor.

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 6

COVID exposed our fractured national identity, but state-based loyalties were rising long before

Judith Brett, La Trobe University

Chosen by Wes Mountain, our Multimedia Editor and Acting Digital Editor.

Arts + Culture

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 7

Could music provide an unlikely source of inspiration for improving human relationships with forests? Paul Jones / UOW Media

Friday essay: the guitar industry’s hidden environmental problem — and the people trying to fix it

Chris Gibson, University of Wollongong; Andrew Warren, University of Wollongong

Chosen by Suzy Freeman-Greene, our Arts + Culture Editor.

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 8

Winner: Archibald Prize 1972: Clifton Pugh. ‘The Hon EG Whitlam’ 1972. Oil on composition board, 113.5 x 141.5 cm. © Estate of Clifton Pugh

‘I think Archie would be pleased’: 100 years of our most famous portrait prize and my almost 50 years watching it evolve

Joanna Mendelssohn, The University of Melbourne

Chosen by Jane Howard, our Deputy Arts + Culture Editor.

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 9

Netflix

Squid Game and the ‘untranslatable’: the debate around subtitles explained

Jinhyun Cho, Macquarie University

Chosen by Patrick Lenton, our Deputy Arts + Culture Editor.

Business + Economy

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 10

More prison time for less crime, our swelling prisons are costing us dearly

Stephen King, Monash University

Chosen by Peter Martin, our Business + Economy Editor.

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 11

igor kisselev/Shutterstock

Neurodiversity can be a workplace strength, if we make room for it

Miriam Moeller, The University of Queensland; Dana L. Ott; Emily Russo, The University of Queensland

Chosen by Tim Wallace, our Deputy Business + Economy Editor.

Education

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 12

Shutterstock

We can see the gender bias of all-boys’ schools by the books they study in English

Cody Reynolds, University of Newcastle

Chosen by Sasha Petrova, our Education Editor.

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 13

‘That physicians in the Anti-Vaccine Society (England, early 19th C) were concerned that Jenner’s smallpox inoculation gave people bovine-like features.’ – historian’s tweet in reply to author asking about memorable finds. Twitter/Wellcome

I asked historians what find made them go ‘wait, wut?’ Here’s a taste of the hundreds of replies

Evan Smith, Flinders University

Chosen by John Watson, our Higher Education Editor.

Environment + Energy

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 14

Mitchell Library

100 years ago, this man discovered an exquisite parrot thought to be extinct. What came next is a tragedy we must not repeat

Russell McGregor, James Cook University

Chosen by Nicole Hasham, our Environment + Energy Editor.

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 15

Wes Mountain/The Conversation

Who would win in a fight between a wedge-tailed eagle and a bald eagle? It’s a close call for two nationally revered birds

Dominique Potvin, University of the Sunshine Coast

Chosen by Anthea Batsakis, our Deputy Environment + Energy Editor.

Health + Medicine

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 16

Shutterstock

‘Devastated and sad’ after 36 years of research — early detection of ovarian cancer doesn’t save lives

Ian Jacobs, UNSW

Chosen by Fron Jackson-Webb, our Deputy Editor and Senior Health + Medicine Editor.

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 17

www.shutterstock.com

Are COVID vaccines vegan? Should I get one anyway? An ethicist explains

Ben Bramble, Australian National University

Chosen by Anna Evangeli, our Deputy Health + Medicine Editor.

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 18

Albert Perez/AAP

Your unvaccinated friend is roughly 20 times more likely to give you COVID

Christopher Baker, The University of Melbourne; Andrew Robinson, The University of Melbourne

Chosen by Liam Petterson, our Deputy Health + Medicine Editor.

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 19

Shutterstock

The problem with Oodies: hooded blankets are cosy but they are not great for oceans or our health

Vincent H.S. Yap, University of Tasmania; Jennifer Lavers, University of Tasmania

Chosen by Lucy Beaumont, our Senior Deputy Health + Medicine Editor.

New Zealand

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 20

GettyImages

The viral ‘Wellerman’ sea shanty is also a window into the remarkable cross-cultural whaling history of Aotearoa New Zealand

Kate Stevens, University of Waikato

Chosen by Finlay Macdonald, our New Zealand Senior Editor: Politics, Business + Humanities.

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 21

Shara van der Pas

The world is desperate for new antibiotics, and New Zealand’s unique fungi are a source of promising compounds

Siouxsie Wiles, University of Auckland

Chosen by Veronika Meduna, our New Zealand Editor: Science, Health + Environment.

Politics + Society

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 22

Premier Dan Andrews shortly after the fall that left him with broken ribs and a damaged spine. AAP/katanaDanielAndrewsMP

Liberals’ Dan Andrews questions are a perfect case study in how to manufacture fake news

Denis Muller, The University of Melbourne

Chosen by Amanda Dunn, our Politics + Society Editor.

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 23

Joel Carrett/AAP

It’s time for Anthony Albanese to get angry

Judith Brett, La Trobe University

Chosen by Justin Bergman, our Senior Deputy Politics + Society Editor.

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 24

www.shutterstock.com

‘I tell everyone I love being on my own, but I hate it’: what older Australians want you to know about loneliness

Barbara Barbosa Neves, Monash University; Alexandra Sanders, Monash University; David Colón Cabrera, Monash University; Narelle Warren, Monash University

Chosen by Judith Ireland, our Deputy Politics + Society Editor.

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 25

People take a selfie after receiving a COVID vaccine at an Aboriginal vaccination Hub in Whalan, west of Sydney. Dan Himbrechts/AAP Images

Getting vaccinated is the act of love needed right now to support the survival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples during the pandemic

Lisa Jackson Pulver, University of Sydney; Jennifer Barrett, University of Sydney; Kalinda Griffiths, UNSW; Melissa Haswell, University of Sydney

Chosen by Carissa Lee, our Commissioning Editor: Indigenous + Public Policy.

Science + Technology

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 26

Uoaei1/Wikimedia Commons

Not so foolish after all: ‘fool’s gold’ contains a newly discovered type of real gold

Denis Fougerouse, Curtin University

Chosen by Michael Hopkin, our Science + Technology Editor and Deputy Chief of Staff.

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 27

Poster showing ‘The Leader of the Luddites’ (1812) Wikimedia Commons

I’m a Luddite. You should be one too

Jathan Sadowski, Monash University

Chosen by Michael Lucy, our Deputy Science + Technology Editor.

Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 28

Daniel Terrington

Giant bird-eating centipedes exist — and they’re surprisingly important for their ecosystem

Luke Halpin, Monash University; Rohan Clarke, Monash University; Rowan Mott, Monash University

Chosen by Noor Gillani, our Deputy Science + Technology Editor.

 

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Our editors' favourite articles of 2021 37

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