Stories by Tony Dokoupil

  • Affirmative Action in ’08 Race

    Race has inevitably been part of the Democratic primary, but the candidates have largely avoided the serious topic of affirmative action.
  • New Poll: Clinton, Obama Tied

    Hillary Clinton has battled back to a virtual dead heat with Barack Obama, according to the latest NEWSWEEK Poll. And on the major issue, the economy, neither candidate is pulling ahead.
  • Is User-Generated Content Out?

    The individual user has been king on the Internet, but the pendulum seems to be swinging back toward edited information vetted by professionals.
  • Super Bowl, Super Bust

    Every Super Bowl loser leaves piles of suddenly worthless merchandise in its wake, but the tease of the New England Patriots' perfect season produced unusual extremes. Nike and Reebok each sunk several hundred thousand dollars into stillborn commercials pegged to a Pats win, while team owner Robert Kraft planned for a bonanza of post-perfect merch. Before the game, he applied for trademarks to use phrases such as "19-0" and "Perfect Season" on a litany of gear including greeting cards, jigsaw puzzles, kites and temporary tattoos, according to a copy of the application obtained by NEWSWEEK. Fans are crying jinx, but "if that were true we would've lost the AFC title game," says Patriots spokesman Stacey James. One thing is for sure: "18-1" garb is selling big—to Giants fans.
  • The War We Forgot

    World War I has no national monument. No iconic images. And only one soldier is still alive.
  • A Prosecutor Run Amok

    In the mass-media age, major news stories captivate us for a moment and then vanish. We revisit those stories to bring you the next chapter.
  • Sex and the Synagogue

    The rise of interfaith marriage is a sensitive issue among American Jews, and now two powerful forces in the religion are teaming up to do something about it: rabbis and JDate, the top matchmaking Web site for Jewish singles. For the first time in its 10-year history, the site is offering a bulk rate to rabbis who want to buy membership accounts for their congregants. According to Gail Laguna, JDate's vice president of communications, singles who sign up through their congregation get a slight discount on the site's $149 six-month subscription fee. "This is a way for us to break down the walls of the synagogue," said Rabbi Michael Cahana, who leads the Congregation Beth Israel in Portland, Ore. "We should use all the technological tools that are available to us."The rabbis who negotiated the bulk rate are also picking up the tab. Since September, Rabbi Donald Weber of Temple Rodeph Torah in Marlboro, N.J., has paid out of his own pocket for 24 six-month subscriptions. Cahana and...
  • Gratuitous Technology

    Americans are obsessed with saving time, but there are some things we still haven't streamlined. Like sit-down dining. In many restaurants in Europe, a waiter brings the check along with a panini-size wireless device, and customers swipe their own credit cards. It's a rare example of the world's outpacing the land that invented the drive-through. Now American eateries are starting to play catch-up. National chains like Hooters and Legal Sea Foods have been experimenting with wireless credit-card readers for months. Legal Sea Foods aims to be entirely pay-at-table by 2009. B.R. Guest Restaurants, owner of 17 upscale eateries in New York, Chicago and Las Vegas, recently launched its own pilot program. By next year, says Tanya Steele, editor of Epicurious.com, "I think you'll see them at mid- and even high-end restaurants."Economically, it's a no-brainer. European data show that the scanners actually increase tips by 9 percent, because preset tip buttons ensure that servers aren't...
  • Forty-Year-Old Virgins

    At 25, Stephen Brown thought his toy-playing days were over—until his mom tried to clean out his old bedroom. "Looking at my 'Star Wars' guys, I couldn't pull the trigger," says the Atlanta advertising executive, now 34. Over the next decade, he spent more than $5,000 on a Pac-Man lunchbox, a Mr. T Chia Pet and enough childhood tchotchkes to fill a man-size closet. But Brown isn't a collector. "These are for play, not profit," he says. It's a mentality shared by a growing number of Gen X- and Yers: they want their stuff back, whatever the cost. "I'm taking a bath," says Chris Anderson, a 40-year-old Dallas marketing manager, who spent $1,000 on games like Mattel's 1977 handheld Electronic Football. Tom Miano, owner of Serious Toyz in Cold Spring, N.Y., recently sold a box of 30 scuffed He-Man figures for $330, despite missing weapons and limbs. At $15 to $30 for each action figure, re-staffing the Cobra Command center (home to G.I. Joe's arch-nemesis, Cobra Commander) isn't cheap....
  • It’s Christmas Every Day

    In the mass-media age, news stories captivate us for a moment, then vanish. We revisit those stories to bring you the final chapter.
  • Pregnant, or Just Plain Hip?

    Jennifer Lopez kept the tabloids abuzz with pregnancy rumors for months, in part because of an unlikely accomplice: high fashion. Baby-doll tops, smock dresses and other free-flowing styles that keep expanding bellies under wraps are a hit with fashionable pregnant and nonpregnant women alike. That's bad news for mommy merchants: many expectant mothers are simply buying their favorite looks a few sizes bigger at regular stores and avoiding the specialty market altogether. In the last fiscal year, Mothers Work Inc., the owner of A Pea in the Pod and other chains, has seen its sales tumble more than $20 million. The Gap is also facing slower sales in its maternity section as customers wise up to the options right across the aisle—often at a better price, and with the same roomy cuts. There is, however, hope for the industry: the approximately 4 million American woman with a bun in the oven spend more than $1 billion annually on clothes. When styles change to something newer, hipper...
  • Controversial Advertising Strategy

    The idea that genetic differences exist between ethnicities is the basis of a growing and controversial advertising strategy for a $2 trillion market. Much of the money is tied to skin-care supplies, such as Rx for Brown Skin, a line that debuted this fall at Sephora. GenSpec is the first "genetically specific" multivitamin for blacks, whites and Hispanics. And Nike makes the Air Native for Native Americans with wider-than-average forefeet. But experts doubt the data behind these products; New York University sociologist Troy Duster says the phony "biomarket" could lead people to "slip into thinking" that classroom and athletic performance are also explained by genetics.
  • Following His Green Dream

    Al Gore just won a Nobel Prize for teaching the world to think green, but he's also showing he knows a thing or two about another kind of green: money. Since 2000, according to published reports, the former veep has transformed himself from a public servant with around $1 million in the bank to a sparkling private consultant with a net worth estimated to be north of $100 million. He's a senior adviser to Google, a board member at Apple and now a newly minted general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the Silicon Valley venture-capital firm that made billions investing early in Netscape, Amazon and Google.Gore has pledged to hand over his KP "salary" to Alliance for Climate Protection, a nonprofit he chairs. But the gift is more symbolic than material. Gore's salary—his cut of the 2 percent "management fee" that KP partners get on all investments—is typically a sliver of the total compensation that VCs receive. If Gore's profit-sharing deal is anything like the firm's...
  • An Uneasy Race to Profit

    When biologist James Watson suggested that Africans are less intelligent than Europeans, he sparked an international race row that forced him into a hasty retirement. But the idea behind his comments—that genetic differences exist between people of different ethnicities—is the basis of a growing and controversial advertising model that strategists say makes up a $2 trillion market. Much of the money is tied to skin-care supplies, such as Rx for Brown Skin, a line that debuted this fall at Sephora and has abandoned subtlety to market along racial lines. The prescription drug BiDil has emerged as the first FDA approved treatment for heart disease only in African-Americans, and GenSpec is the first "genetically specific" multivitamin for blacks, whites and Hispanics. Nike, meanwhile, has just unveiled the first ethnically focused sneaker, the Air Native, a cross-trainer distributed only on reservations and designed to fit Native Americans, who, the company says, tend to have wider-than...
  • Celebrity Bar Mitzvahs

    In a new book, 21 celebrities tell sweet, funny—and revealing—tales of their own bar (or bat) mitzvahs.
  • Mariane Pearl on Optimism

    Mariane Pearl, the wife of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, resolved to hold onto her sense of hope in the aftermath of her husband's murder at the hands of terrorists in 2002. She wrote a stirring memoir, "A Mighty Heart," later made into a film starring Angelina Jolie, and now she's back with "In Search of Hope." It features 12 profiles (originally written for Glamour magazine) of deeply optimistic women, from a Moroccan cleaning lady in Paris to the president of Liberia, who each labor to heal their cracked patches of earth. She spoke with NEWSWEEK's Tony Dokoupil: ...
  • ‘I Can’t Talk About Me’

    Shrewd marketing or government spite? That was the question when Valerie Plame's memoir, “Fair Game,” appeared on bookstands last month with some 10 percent of its 302 pages deleted by CIA censors. Plame, the former agency operative at the center of Washington’s leaked-identity scandal, believes it may be a bit of both. The occasional lapse into ludicrousness, though, was probably unintended. There's a paragraph on breast-feeding riddled with blacked out lines, and an early chapter about Plame's life as an agent in a (redacted) country is entitled "(REDACTED) Tour." But Plame, whose identity was revealed in 2003, says these gutted sections are further proof of a vendetta against her coming from the top of the administration down. ...
  • The American Way to Gain Wisdom

    In this country, we're firm believers in educating ourselves—we just wish it didn't take so long. But not to worry: self-help is on the way. David S. Kidder and Noah Oppenheim's "The Intellectual Devotional: American History" collapses Uncle Sam's story into 365 single-page passages to be read one a day for a year. "We're trying to give people confidence," says Oppenheim, a producer for NBC's "Today" show. "The War of 1812 can seem exotic at first." The Web site Dailylit, meanwhile, sends literature by the byte: free chunks of classic books that arrive daily in your IN box. "How do you eat an elephant?" says cofounder Susan Danziger. "One bite at a time."As a sales strategy, selling nibbles of wisdom is a proven winner. The first intellectual self-help books date to at least the mid-18th century, when Englishman Isaac Watts scored an Old and New World best seller with "The Improvement of the Mind." By the 1920s, less-educated adults routinely reached for the Little Blue Book series...
  • They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

    Wild mustangs carried pioneers, cowboys and soldiers. Today, they're being sold for slaughter. An American dilemma.
  • Truly, Madly, Deeply

    On July 10, Jeremy Blake returned to his downtown Manhattan apartment from a day of meetings with plans to relax with a bottle of Scotch. The 35-year-old digital artist, whose work is already enshrined in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, lived in a converted Episcopal church rectory with his girlfriend of a dozen years, Theresa Duncan, a 40-year-old writer and former computer-game designer. Before going upstairs to meet her, he stopped by the office of the church’s assistant pastor, Father Frank Morales, and invited him up later for a drink. But when Blake got to his place and opened the door, he found Duncan lying dead in their bedroom, with a bottle of bourbon, Tylenol PM pills and a suicide note next to her body. When the police arrived, Morales followed them upstairs and found Blake kicking the walls and sobbing before settling into a living-room chair. After the coroner took his lover’s body away, Blake spent the next three hours with Morales, ...
  • Rising Teen Suicides: What Parents Can Do

    The suicide rate for young people increased for the first time in nearly 15 years. What's going on? And what do worried parents need to watch out for?
  • How Technology Spurred a Loving Couple's Tragic End

    Theresa Duncan created acclaimed videogames. Jeremy Blake was a digital-art pioneer. They were talented, successful and in love. And then they committed suicide. How the technology that infused their work helped destroy them.
  • God and MP3s: The Audio Bible Craze

    When people speak of hearing God, they usually don't mean they can adjust the volume. But a wave of new audio Bibles with Hollywood talent, chintzy sound effects and overwrought musical scores is bringing God into the MP3 era—and they couldn't have more different, well, complexions. There's "The Bible Experience," a complete Bible recording featuring a divine roster of A-list black celebrities, including Forest Whitaker as Moses, Cuba Gooding Jr. as Judas, Blair Underwood as Jesus and Samuel L. Jackson as the Big Guy himself. (The New Testament half has already sold close to 400,000 copies in its eight months on the market.) The competition: "Word of Promise," another surround-sound Scripture set, starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus (again), Terence Stamp as God and a mostly white, thoroughly B-list cast. They're both on sale this fall. Just press play and pray.Of course, the publishing industry has long performed what amounts to a miracle of market renewal, making the Good Book a...
  • Teens and Antidepressants: Did Warnings Go Too Far?

    Seventeen-year-old Michael didn't want to end up crazed and suicidal like the Columbine killers. The Massachusetts teen had read that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were taking antidepressants when they rampaged murderously through their Colorado high school in 1999, and he didn't want to snap as they had. "He'd say it was like there was an evil guy on his left shoulder and a good guy on his right, but the evil guy just kept winning," Michael's mother, Lorraine, recalls. Despite his pain, Michael feared that antidepressants would "put him over the edge." Lorraine wasn't so sure. After consulting a specialist, she persuaded Michael in January to try Prozac, one of a family of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. By spring, the "good guy" was winning: Michael made the honor roll for the first time.Lorraine can't know for certain whether Prozac saved Michael's life, although she's convinced it did. These days, however, fewer parents or doctors are following...