It was one of those stories that aren’t a secret, but nobody had dug in to see how it was playing out —until Laurie Kellman started to. She’d heard in Israel that passports were becoming increasingly hard to get, and one person referred her to the renewals website which showed a 360-day wait for appointments. She did some investigating online and found that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had testified that “the bottom dropped out” of passport renewals.
Kellman then got an email from Rebecca Santana, who had covered a Senate hearing at which Sen. Mitt Romney went off on this problem. David Koenig jumped in and said he could help. The three decided to tell the story through the eyes of frustrated people just … waiting.
The result was a story that was full of humanity and the Kafkaesque experiences of people trying to plan travel while navigating an administrative system that was clearly overwhelmed. The balance of anecdotes and facts made for a must-read, and Trends and Culture photo partners Sydney Schaefer and Andy Bao produced a visually appealing slate of photos to accompany the piece.