A tenet of journalism, one rarely acted on, is to circle back on a story and see what really happened. It could be six months later, or five years later. If journalism is the first draft of history, this represents the second.
Now TheNew York Times has launched the series Hindsight, a collection of reports that look at how people of years past expected the future to play out, how it actually played out, and what’s to be learned.
Hindsight is the first project of Headway, a team of journalists formed by the Times last year to explore the world’s challenges through the lens of progress.
Headway will investigate global and national challenges, with coverage focusing on a range of economic, social, health, infrastructural and environmental problems. Each year, Headway will produce 10 to 12 deeply researched, visually ambitious and data-rich projects that look beyond the 24-hour news and election cycles.
The Headway initiative is funded philanthropicall y by The Ford Foundation, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Woodcock Foundation. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors serves as a nonprofit fiscal sponsor. The Times retains full editorial control. All of Headway’s stories and its public square forum will be freely accessible without a subscription.
Among Hindsight topics will be claims, promises and projections made in the past on issues such as climate, poverty, clean water and HIV/AIDS.
Anchoring the project is What Does It Mean to Save a Neighborhood? by Michael Kimmelman, which looks at the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and probes what the slow start of New York City’s plan to protect residents in Lower Manhattan reveals about governance and progress.
In five additional stories, journalists dug to find the answers to these questions: Did it happen? And what does the outcome reveal?