Well, according to Conor Friedersdorf, who is himself a journalist.
On the website True/Slant, he attempts to list the best examples of journalism from 2009. In his words:
Throughout 2009, I kept a running list of the best journalism I encountered. Although I endeavored to remain as impartial as possible, note that I’ve been an employee of The Atlantic, that I’d eagerly write for numerous publications that received awards, that I have too many friends/acquaintances/professional contacts in journalism to disclose them all, and that the number of pieces I miss every year far exceeds the number I’m able to read.
In other words, this isn’t an infallible account of journalism’s best, but I aim to make it the best roundup that any one person can offer, one of these years I intend to do better than the committees who pick the Pulitzer Prizes and National Magazine Awards (the pressure’s on, especially since you guys charge entry fees), and if nothing else my effort encompasses writing that is well worth your time.
His list is long, guaranteed to keep you reading for awhile. I’ve only read a couple, but I can attest to the story from Rolling Stone about a blind teenager who caused havoc by tapping into phone lines. Friedersdorf also mentions the Wired story about Evan Ratliff trying to disappear, which Grant has blogged about.