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The 9th Street Nine

To celebrate the end of the year, we chose some of our favorite stories from 2021, a mix of features, profile … and a story about a dog. Enjoy!


A man, a dog and a scooter – Nicole Kagan’s feature about bartender David Cunningham and his dog Miss Betty White is a wonderful tale of friendship. Cunningham acquired the lovable collie from a Lexington kennel during a low moment during the pandemic and they’ve been inseparable ever since. For Durhamites who have seen them cruising the city on Cunningham’s Vespa, the story also answered the question, “What’s the deal with the dog on the scooter?”

I watched all 162 crashes at the Can Opener. Here’s what I saw. – We thought we had read every possible feature about the Can Opener, the low-clearance bridge on Gregson Street with the unfortunate habit of shaving the top off of tall trucks. But Carmela Guaglianone watched every crash and provided fresh insights into human behavior.

Justice is blind. But what you wear to court matters. – We tell ourselves that, in the pursuit of justice, only the facts matter. But as we discover in Milla Surjadi’s illuminating story, so does perception. And many times, how judges perceive witnesses and victims hinges on what they’re wearing.  

Does courts coverage do more harm than good? – Lilly Clark didn’t think it made sense: Why would The 9th Street Journal publish the names of people who have committed minor crimes? In fact, why do most news outlets do this? In doing so, are reporters really serving the public good? Her thoughtful essay offers a provocative perspective.

One political mailer sheds light on Durham election dynamics – Caroline Petrow-Cohen examined the claims in a single mailer to show where the candidates stood on “defunding” the police and related issues. The article provided voters with a helpful look beyond the sometimes-confusing rhetoric.

Durham ICU nurse reflects on COVID: ‘Definitely not out of the woods’ – KC Cherveny, an ICU nurse at Duke Regional Hospital, has gotten so experienced with COVID that she knows it’s time to intubate critical patients long before test results say so. “You can see it in their face, and you can see it in their whole body,” she told reporter Jake Sheridan. Jake’s profile provides a revealing look at the toll COVID has taken on Durham’s hospitals and shows the hard work by dedicated professionals such as Cherveny.

A Pandemic Year – One year after COVID first appeared in Durham and disrupted everything from yoga classes to the county jail, reporters from The 9th Street Journal revisited a wide range of people to see how they adapted and moved on.

Changing things up to keep business alive during a pandemicAkili Hester, the owner of the Black Wall Street Barber Shop, found ways to survive after the pandemic shut down his haircutting business. Rebecca Schneid provided a revealing look at Hester and his smart efforts to adapt.

Reflections – We launched a new feature called Reflections that included a variety of essays and interviews and podcasts by our student journalists about how they learned and grew from their work. Their accounts provide fascinating insights into the challenges of reporting and what Duke students learn when they’re working for The 9th Street Journal.

Above, David Cunningham and Miss Betty White. Photo by Rebecca Schneid – The 9th Street Journal