Best of 2015
Don't Let 2015 End Without Reading These Stories
In 2015, BuzzFeed News reporters and contributors went everywhere from Nova Scotia to Kazakhstan to China. Here is a selection of their stories, on the injustices, mysteries, phenomena, and fascinations we couldn't miss this year.
Jared Harrell / BuzzFeed News
Rogelio V. Solis / AP Photo
Craig Anderson was headed home to celebrate his birthday with his partner. Instead, he became the victim of a brutal and violent form of racism that many in Mississippi had thought long gone.
Photograph by Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News
Radiation. Government conspiracy. Mass hysteria. There are plenty of theories as to why the residents of a tiny Kazakh mining region keep falling asleep for days at a time, but no answers.
Photograph by Raffe Lazarian for BuzzFeed News
One year ago, a teenager was burned alive in a tiny Mississippi town. Police say they still don’t know who killed her or why, leaving the mystery in the hands of amateur online sleuths who may be doing more harm than good. When does a private tragedy become a public pastime?
Illustration by Rob Dobi for BuzzFeed News
Ronald Taylor and George Gould were jailed for murdering a New Haven bodega owner in 1993. They were exonerated thanks to the efforts of a cop turned private investigator, only to be ordered back to prison — along with the investigator himself. And in the middle of it all were the victim's troubled son and a heroin addict whose changing testimony has been the most mysterious part of a case that has baffled and infuriated for over 20 years.
One grand old house overlooking the Sunset Strip played host to a generation of comics — including Sam Kinison, Andrew Dice Clay, and Robin Williams — launching dozens of careers and about as many drug problems. The crash pad of a comedy revolution, remembered, kinda, by the people who survived it.
The New American Slavery — Jessica Garrison, Ken Bensinger, Jeremy Singer-Vine
Photograph by Ken Bensinger and Jessica Garrison for BuzzFeed News
The H-2 visa program invites foreign workers to do some of the most menial labor in America. Then it leaves them at the mercy of their employers. Thousands of these workers have been abused — deprived of their fair pay, imprisoned, starved, beaten, raped, and threatened with deportation if they dare complain. And the government says it can do little to help.
Photograph by Jessica Tezak For Buzzfeed News
He was an inmate, facing deportation over a minor arrest. She was a guard, fed up with her job at a for-profit prison. They fell in love, but living happily ever after was not going to happen.
The government says Matt DeHart is an online child predator. He says that’s a ruse created because he discovered shocking CIA secrets and claims he was tortured by federal agents. The only thing that’s clear is that he’s in deep trouble.
Photograph by Tim Soter
Paul Macleod’s memorabilia-stuffed Elvis shrine was the pride of Holly Springs, Mississippi, for 25 years — until this July, when MacLeod shot a man to death over $10, then died of a heart attack immediately afterward. What will become of MacLeod’s dubious treasures, and two families ruined by hero worship at its most obsessive, is a drama worthy of a king.
Courtesy of the Sheehan Family
In 2008, San Francisco police were called to transport a woman with mental illness to a hospital. Instead, they shot her seven times. This is the story of how police became our nation’s mental health care workers, and how Teresa Sheehan’s family fought for her before the shooting — and since.
Illustration by Kaye Blegvad for BuzzFeed News
M.C. was born with ambiguous genitalia, a rare condition that doctors addressed with surgery. Now, in a landmark lawsuit, M.C.’s parents are challenging the medical mainstream: Why does a surgeon decide what sex a child should be?
Photograph by Michael Short for BuzzFeed News
This cross-country cash cow starring seven of America’s biggest Vine and YouTube stars has all the trappings of a traditional rock tour: long bus rides, concert hall stages in front of screaming fans, staying up late. But it’s also the clearest sign yet that the entertainment industry’s star-making apparatus is being turned upside down.
Azmat Khan / BuzzFeed News
The United States trumpets education as one of its shining successes of the war in Afghanistan. But those U.S. claims were often outright lies, as the government peddled numbers it knew to be false and touted schools that have never seen a single student.
Illustration by Valero Doval for BuzzFeed News
The North American Water and Power Alliance was an audacious proposal to divert water to parched western states that would have cost hundreds of billions of dollars and pissed off Canada. But what if it had worked?
This holiday season, we want to roll around on motorized two-wheeled scooters — and China wants to give us what we want, as soon as we want it. A visit to Shenzhen, the world capital of memeufacturing, to see how your Black Friday sausage gets made.
Where terrorism succeeds, parents have a hard time recognizing their own children.
Photograph by Edmund D. Fountain for BuzzFeed News
Transgender people are still barred from openly serving in the military. But a small but increasingly visible population of veterans are demanding health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs — and getting it.
Photograph by Dylan Hollingsworth for BuzzFeed News
More than a thousand Texas teenagers have been ordered to lockup on charges that stem from missing school, often because they have unpaid court fines. The costs to their education are high. Some, like Serena Vela, never go back.
Photograph by Ariana Drehsler for BuzzFeed News
For four years, a Dartmouth student had been relentlessly stalked by an older man. The legal system couldn’t protect her, so she wanted permission to carry a gun on campus. Over a year after becoming a gun-rights poster girl, Taylor Woolrich tells her story.
Loretta Young made her name in Classic Hollywood as a great beauty — and for the cover-up of one of the industry’s greatest scandals: concealing a child, born out of wedlock, with Clark Gable, one of the era’s biggest stars. It wasn’t until recently that even Young learned the right words for what she’d been hiding for decades.
Courtesy Patricia O'Leary
Locked up in a psych ward under the false premise that he was a convicted sex offender, Eddie Davison sued New York state for false imprisonment. Now the state is charging him $2 million.
Photograph by Macey J. Foronda for BuzzFeed News
California dispensaries say butane hash oil, or “wax,” now accounts for 40% of sales — despite potential health risks and home lab explosions on the rise. With no regulation and a lack of good information, stoners turn to self-appointed, and self-interested, “experts” like Matt Rize — but at what cost?
Why would an American college student run away to Syria and join ISIS? Meet Hoda, a 20-year-old woman from Alabama — and the devastated father she left behind.
Photograph by Steve Wadden for BuzzFeed News
Two years ago, in a small Nova Scotian village, a local troublemaker and lobster thief went missing, and three lobstermen eventually confessed to his vicious murder. Had this trickster finally gotten what was coming to him, or was the real story — and what it said about its community — something much more tragic?
Illustration by Nicolas Dehghani,
colagene.com for BuzzFeed News
Porn has long been a driving force in tech and internet innovation, but the industry now finds itself in unprecedented danger thanks to piracy and free “tube” sites. These are some of the pioneers and entrepreneurs who are trying to fight back.
Illustration by Marc Aspinall for BuzzFeed News
Mohamed Mohamud was a conflicted teenager when undercover FBI operatives convinced him he would bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. Five years later,his case could determine whether the American government is allowed to spy wholesale on its citizens.
Photograph by Patrick T. Fallon for BuzzFeed News
How did dancing with LED-lined gloves become a And where does it go from there? A day with the champs, the challengers, and the chiefs of America’s trippiest new sport. Shark Tank-approved, multimillion-dollar industry?
Photograph by Ty Wright for BuzzFeed News
After two decades together, Jim Obergefell and John Arthur married in 2013, as Arthur was dying from ALS. Ohio didn't recognize their marriage. This year, the Supreme Court decided that it must.
Arthur P. Bedou Portfolio
Gulfside Assembly — the only place where black Americans could visit a coastal beach during Jim Crow — was once known as a civil rights mecca. Just as it was to make a comeback, Hurricane Katrina laid ruin to the retreat, leaving a dedicated few struggling to keep it from fading into historical obscurity.