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Jason Motlagh, a journalist and filmmaker, is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and the founder of Blackbeard Films. He won the Polk's Sydney Schanberg Prize for “This Will End in Blood and Ashes,” an account of the collapse of order in Haiti.

“Once you've gotten used to this kind of metabolism, it can be hard to walk away from it. Ordinary life can be a little flat sometimes. And so that's always kind of built in. I accept that. I think I've just tried to be more honest about like, [am I taking this risk] because I need a bump my life? Or do you really believe in what you're doing? And I feel like I really do need to believe in the purpose of the story. There has to be some motivation greater than myself."

This is the last in a series of conversations with winners of this year's George Polk Awards in Journalism.

Brian Howey is a freelance journalist who won the Polk Award for Justice Reporting after exposing a deceptive police tactic widely used in California. He began the project, which was eventually published by the Los Angeles Times and Reveal, as a graduate student in the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

“It’s one thing to hear about this tactic and hear about parents being questioned in this way. It’s another thing entirely to hear the change in a parent’s voice when they realize for the past 20 minutes they’ve been speaking ill of a relative who’s actually been dead the entire time, and to hear that wave of grief and sometimes that feeling of betrayal that cropped up in their voice and how the way that they spoke to the officers afterwards changed.”

This is the fourth in a week-long series of conversations with winners of this year's George Polk Awards in Journalism.

Meribah Knight is a reporter with Nashville Public Radio. She won the Polk Award for Podcasting for “The Kids of Rutherford County,” produced with ProPublica and Serial, which revealed a shocking approach to juvenile discipline in one Tennessee county.

“Where does it leave me? It leaves me with a searing anger that is going to propel me to the next thing. But we’ve made some real improvement. And that’s worth celebrating. That’s worth recognizing and saying, This work matters, people are paying attention.”

This is the third in a week-long series of conversations with winners of this year's George Polk Awards in Journalism.

Jesse Coburn is an investigative reporter at Streetsblog. He won the Polk Award for Local Reporting for "Ghost Tags," his series on the black market for temporary license plates.

“You can imagine this having never become a problem, because it’s so weird. What a weird scam. I’m going to print and sell tens of thousands of paper license plates. But someone figured it out. And then a lot more people followed. It just exploded.”

This is the second in a week-long series of conversations with winners of this year's George Polk Awards in Journalism.

Amel Guettatfi and Julia Steers won this year's George Polk Award for Television Reporting for “Inside Wagner,” their Vice News investigation of Russian mercenaries on the Ukraine front and in the Central African Republic.

“One of the best takeaways I got from seven or eight years at Vice is that it’s not enough for something to be important when you’re figuring out how to make a story. It’s the intersection of important and interesting. And that has taught me that people will watch anything, anywhere, as long as it’s interesting. Nobody owes us their time. The onus is on us to explain things in an interesting, compelling way. I’m hoping that a landscape opens up somewhere else that sees that and understands that can be done anywhere in the world.”

This is the first in a week-long series of conversations with winners of this year’s George Polk Awards in Journalism.

Megan Kimble is the former executive editor of The Texas Observer and has written for The New York Times, Texas Monthly, and The Guardian. Her new book is City Limits: Infrastructure, Inequality, and the Future of America’s Highways.

“I have never lived in a city that was not wrapped in highways. It’s hard for me to imagine anything else. And I think that’s true for a lot of people today. ... [But] we have known since the origins of the interstate highways program that building highways through cities doesn’t fix traffic. And yet we keep doing it. To me, that really fueled a lot of the book. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.”

Zach Harris is a journalist whose latest article for Rolling Stone is "Meet the Gen Z Hothead Burning Up Pro Bowling."

“I'm not like a staff writer who has … status and access. But if I come up with something fun that you've never heard of that might connect to the larger culture, then it kind of hits a nerve and a sweet spot for me. Someone like a pro skateboarder or a pro bowler, you guys have never heard of. And so being able to present a person and a culture and a world to a wider audience, I think suits me well and has been really a fun way to do profiles.”

Rozina Ali is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and the winner of the 2023 National Magazine Award for Reporting. Her latest article is “Raised in the West Bank, Shot in Vermont.”

“I think it’s very, very important to speak to people as people. To speak to sources—even if you have the juiciest story—to really give them the grace. I think everyone deserves it, especially people who are going through such a difficult time.”

Derek Thompson is a staff writer for The Atlantic and host of the podcast Plain English.

“I am an inveterate dilettante. I lose interest in subjects all the time. Because what I find interesting about my job is the invitation to solve mysteries. And once you solve one, two, three mysteries in a space, then the meta-mystery of that space begins to dim. And all these other subjects—that's the new unlit space that needs the flashlight. And that's the part of the job that I love the most: that there are so many dark corners in the world. And I've just got this flashlight, and I can just shine it wherever the hell I want.”

Tessa Hulls is a writer and artist whose work has appeared in The Rumpus, The Washington Post, and The Capitol Hill Times. Her new book, a graphic memoir, is Feeding Ghosts.

“This project is the thing I have spent my entire life running from. I was incredibly determined to never touch this, either personally or professionally. … It was more an eventual act of resignation than a desire.”

Sloane Crosley is the author of I Was Told There’d Be Cake and several other books. Her new memoir is Grief Is for People.

“You take a little sliver of yourself and you offer it up to be spun around in perpetuity in the public imagination. That is the sacrifice you make. And it makes everything just a little bit worse. So it's the opposite of catharsis, but it's worth it. It's worth it for what you get in return: a book.”

Lauren Markham is the author of The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life and has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, and VQR. Her new book is A Map of Future Ruins: On Borders and Belonging.

“It took me a while to figure out that this is actually a book about storytelling, about journalistic storytelling, about the kind of myths we spin culturally and politically, about history, about current events, and the role of journalism within all of that, and my role as a journalist.”

Zoë Schiffer is the managing editor for Platformer. Her new book is Extremely Hardcore: Inside Elon Musk’s Twitter.

“Being the person where it's a fireable offense to leak to you … is kind of a badge of honor.”

Patricia Evangelista is a trauma journalist whose coverage of the drug war in the Philippines has appeared in Rappler, Esquire, and elsewhere. Her recent book is Some People Need Killing: A Memoir of Murder in My Country.

“It is hard to describe the beat I do without saying very often it involves people who have died. And it seemed like an unfair way to frame it. It didn't quite seem right. … Sometimes there's no dead body, or sometimes there's 6,000, but the function is the same: that the people you speak to have gone through enormous painful trauma, and then there's a way to cover it that minimizes that trauma. So … I don't cover the dead. I cover trauma.”

Susan Glasser, the former editor of Politico and Foreign Policy, writes the "Letter from Washington" column for the The New Yorker. Her most recent book, written with Peter Baker, is The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021.

“There’s a great benefit to leaving Washington and then coming back, or frankly leaving anywhere and then coming back. I think you have much wider open eyes. Washington, like a lot of company towns, takes on a logic of its own, and things that can seem crazy to the rest of the country, to the rest of the world, somehow end up making more sense than they should when you’re just doing that all day long, every day.”

Rob Copeland is a finance reporter for The New York Times. His recent book is The Fund: Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Associates, and the Unraveling of a Wall Street Legend.

“If I stab you, I'm going to stab you in the chest, not the back. You're going to see it coming. ... But if you're going to tell me something's wrong, you have to keep talking. I'm not going to take your word for it. I have a reason for why I believe my reporting to be true, and I'm going to present it to you as best I can. But just because you say something's wrong doesn't make it so.”

Miles Johnson is an investigative reporter for the Financial Times. He is the author of Chasing Shadows: A True Story of Drugs, War and the Secret World of International Crime and the host of Hot Money: The New Narcos.

“I’m really fascinated always by the ways in which people just have to do really boring parts of running a crime organization … I love the banalities of this stuff. We have a fictionalized version of crime groups and it’s obviously glamorous, and they’re really smart, but there’s a lot of stuff that’s bumbling incompetence as well or just quite unglamorous.”

Daisy Alioto is a journalist and the CEO of Dirt Media.

“I don't think I was ever super precious about my writing, but if I was, I'm zero percent precious about it now. Every time I write for Dirt, it saves the company money. ... Nothing will make you sit down and write 800 words in 20 minutes than just needing to get it done. And that is a change that I've seen in myself. I would encourage everyone to be less precious about their writing.”

Ian Coss is a journalist, audio producer, and composer. He is the host of Forever is a Long Time and The Big Dig.

“One thing that I really carried with me in making the show is a belief that bureaucracy is interesting. And that once you get through the jargon and wonky sounding stuff … beyond that it’s all just human drama.”

Mosi Secret has written for ProPublica, The New York Times Magazine, and GQ. His new podcast is Radical.

“I think this story made me call on parts of myself that are not journalistic because I don’t really think that’s the way we’re going to get out of this at this point in my life. I think that it takes a more radical reimagining of who we are as human beings, the ways in which we’re connected, and what we owe to each other. And that’s not a reporting thing—that’s a ‘who are you’ kind of thing.”

Craig Mod is a writer and photographer who has two newsletters, Roden and Ridgeline. His new book is Things Become Other Things.

“There'll be days where … I’m doing a walk and I'll just be like, I don't know what is going to move me today. And then out of the blue, there'll be this small interaction that when you really pay attention to it, it contains kind of this universe of kindness and patience that you otherwise pass by or ignore. If you're in the general mode of looking at things and then being able to take that experience and try to transmute it into an essay for the evening and send it out, it just develops your eye. You just start being able to look more and more and more closely.”

Mona Chalabi is a writer and illustrator whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Guardian, where she is the data editor. Her New York Times Magazine piece “9 Ways to Imagine Jeff Bezos’ Wealth” won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Illustrated Reporting.

“I kind of think of protest as just saying what you believe. And sometimes, it’s considered protest because it’s outside of the institutions of power. So you’re saying, Hey, Palestinians deserve human rights, and that’s considered a form of protest, right? I want the work to change things and I think I’m quite unapologetic about that, and most journalists are like No no no no no, we’re just reporting the world, we’re just reporting things as we see it. There’s no desire for change. I think that is so messed up. This idea that your work has no impact in the world is incorrect. You can’t wash yourself of the consequences of the work, you have to be considering the consequences while you’re doing it.”

Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist, author, and host of the podcasts Work Life and Re: Thinking. His new book is Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things.

“If you only focus on your own interest, you tend to develop novel ideas, but not necessarily useful ideas. And so for me, the audience is a filter. … I might have 30 ideas for a book. Let me hone in on the four or five that also might be relevant to other people. The goal there is to make a contribution.”

Jesse David Fox covers comedy for Vulture, where he hosts the podcast Good One. His new book is Comedy Book: How Comedy Conquered Culture—and the Magic That Makes It Work.

“There’s a complete lack of anyone who’s ever written about comedy seriously compared to any other art form. There’s just nothing. … So the challenge was, how do you start a conversation that no one has been participating in?”

Evan Hughes is a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, GQ, The Atlantic, The Atavist and many others. His book, just out in paperback, is Pain Hustlers: Crime and Punishment at an Opioid Startup.

“It should be called slow-form journalism…. It is heavily edited. It’s heavily fact checked. And chances are, you’re not going to be the first. Maybe you’re going to be first to reveal some piece of it. I have made peace with like, I’m not the scoop guy. I’m the person who comes in and I’m good at telling the story in a thorough and deep way.”