The 100 Most Influential People of 2020
Mary Beth Koeth
By Ronan Farrow
September 22, 2020 9:34 PM EDT

Before Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie K. Brown’s explosive reporting on the late sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein in 2018, plenty of outlets had failed to grasp the story’s ongoing significance. Epstein had been convicted and some of the allegations against him disclosed. Many reporters considered Epstein’s connections to figures like Bill Clinton and Donald Trump a promising story, and Epstein himself an old one. But Julie’s relentless reporting proved that Epstein’s accusers deserved to be heard more fully and his crimes to be exposed more thoroughly. Julie placed empathy over headline chasing, with seismic impact.

Raised by a single mother who struggled to make ends meet, Julie set out on her own at age 16 to work odd jobs and save up for college. She’s translated those experiences into attentiveness to voices that need amplifying, publishing stories that have confronted powerful interests and spurred reforms. When news broke last year about MIT’s fundraising relationship with Epstein, she tweeted an animated GIF of a Muppet treading water before getting carried away by a flood, with the caption, “Me trying to keep up with the Jeffrey Epstein story.” But the truth is, all of us in journalism are trying to keep up with Julie.

Farrow is the author of Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators

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