“Let’s look at the prison piece,” said the professor. “What does the nut graph tell us?”
Around me rose a soft rustle as other students rifled knowledgeably through the photocopied news stories we’d been given at the start of class. I found the article on inmate crowding, but as I turned its pages, I failed to spot anything that might fit the professor’s specification. I looked at first for something acorn-shaped, then for anything vaguely pictorial, but could find no pie chart, no bar graph, no pyramid diagram–nary an illustration in the entire piece. I glanced around. Everyone else seemed to have managed the task; they sat absorbedly regarding their copies of the article while the professor continued, parsing the information apparently contained within this elusive “nut graph.” What page were they all on? I strained to see, but couldn’t get an angle. How distinctly I remember growing damp then, my skin flocked with sweat.
–Leah Hager Cohen