Helen Rosner is a food correspondent at The New Yorker.

“I believe the things that are really important to me are structure over all and—forgive me, I’ve said this on other podcasts before—if I were going to get a tattoo this is what I would get a tattoo of is that it doesn’t matter what you say, it only matters what they hear. It’s my job to make sure the gulf between those two things is as narrow as possible and there’s as little ambiguity between what I say and what you hear. It’s never easy, but it’s certainly easier in the realm of arguable objectivity. To create emotion in a reader requires a huge amount of really thoughtful work on the part of the writer in a way that forces you as a writer to remove yourself from the emotion you’re creating in the reader. If I to set you up for sadness, I have to create emotional stakes. I have to create investment in whoever I’m talking about or whatever the story’s about. The craft of making stakes and setting up a potential downfall, a potential loss, whatever it may be I think is not something you can do well if you’re feeling the feeling you’re trying to create in the reader.”

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Reeves Wiedeman is a reporter at New York.

“I think the main reason I love the job is reporting. And the fact that you get to go out into situations that you wouldn’t otherwise as your job. I’m someone who gets antsy if I’m just on a vacation sitting around. I’d much rather go somewhere weird and kind of have a purpose. So, just feeling like you can kind of go anywhere and see anything and talk to anyone is a pretty cool way to live your day.”

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Elif Batuman is a novelist and a staff writer at The New Yorker. Her latest article is “Japan’s Rent-a-Family Industry.”

“I hear novelists say things sometimes like the character does something they don’t expect. It’s like talking to people who have done ayahuasca or belong to some cult. That’s how I felt about it until extremely recently. All of these people have drunk some kind of Kool Aid where they’re like, ‘I’m in this trippy zone where characters are doing things.’ And I would think to myself, if they were men—Wow, this person has devised this really ingenious way to avoid self-knowledge. If they were women, I would think—Wow, this woman has found an ingenious way to become complicit in her own bullying and silencing. It’s only kind of recently—and with a lot of therapy actually—that I’ve come to see that there is a mode of fiction that I can imagine participating in where, once I’ve freed myself of a certain amount of stuff I feel like I have to write about, which has gotten quite large by this point, it would be fun to make things up and play around.”

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Leon Neyfakh is a writer and the host of Slow Burn.

“We didn’t want to be coy about why we were doing the show. We wanted to be up front. We’re interested in this era because it seems like the last time in our nation’s history where things were this wild and the news was this rapid fire and the outcome was this uncertain. That was the main parallel we were thinking about when we started. It was only when we started learning the story and identified the turning points we kept running into these obvious parallels. We mostly didn’t lean into them. We didn’t chase them. There wasn’t a quota of parallels per episode.”

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James Fallows, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, and Deborah Fallows, a linguist and writer, are the co-authors of Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America.

“The credo of reporting—you know, what you don’t know till you show it—that’s my 'this-I-believe.' That’s the reason I’ve stayed in this line of work for this many decades because there’s nothing more fascinating that you can do but to serially satisfy your curiosity about things. What’s it like on an aircraft carrier? What’s it like in a Chinese coalmine? What’s it like in a giant data center in Wyoming? What is it like in all of these things? And journalism gives you a structural excuse to go do those.”

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Sheila Heti is the author of seven books. Her latest is Motherhood: A Novel.

“[My parents] were afraid for me. As anybody who has a kid who wants to be a writer. I think they understood it was a hard life. It was a life in which you wouldn’t necessarily make enough money. It was a life in which you might be setting yourself up for a great amount of disappointment. My dad’s father was a painter, so there was in him this idea that it wasn’t so crazy to him. It wasn’t so outside his understanding. And, yeah, my mom thought it was a bad idea. And it probably is a bad idea in a lot of ways, but my dad was supportive but also cautioning. I think the book really moved [my mom] and really had an effect on her, so maybe you understand that it’s not necessarily a frivolous thing to be doing. Maybe it’s not just playing. I think my mom always had this idea that writing is playing, and it is playing, but it’s a serious kind of playing.”

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Adam Davidson is a staff writer at The New Yorker.

“I am as shocked this moment that Trump was elected as I was the moment he was elected. That fundamental state of shock. It’s like there’s a pile of putrid, rotting human feces on a table and like six of the people around the table are like, ‘That is disgusting.’ And four are like ‘Oh it’s so delicious. Oh, I love it. It’s delicious.’ And I keep saying, ‘Well, why do you like it?’ ... Trump is not a very interesting person in my mind. He’s a very simple, one of the most simple public figures ever. And his business is complex that in that it’s lots of people doing lots of things, but the fundamental nature of it is not that mysterious. So, it is a challenge to keep me engaged, but I’m engaged. And then as a citizen, I’ve never been more engaged.”

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Lauren Hilgers is a journalist and the author of Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown.

“You just need to spend a lot of time with people. And it’s awkward. I read something when I was first starting out as a journalist in China, ‘Make a discipline out of being uncomfortable.’ I think that’s very helpful. You’re going to feel uncomfortable a lot of the time, and just decide to be okay with it and just keep going with it.”

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Charlie Warzel is a senior tech writer for BuzzFeed.

“Part of the big tech reckoning that we’re seeing since the election isn’t really about the election, it isn’t really about Trump or politics. It’s more about this idea that: Wow, these services have incredibly real consequences in our everyday lives. I think that realization is really profound and is going to shape how we try to figure out what it means to be online from here on out. To keep stories relevant, we have to keep that in mind and try to figure out how to speak to that audience and guide them through that reckoning.”

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Michelle Dean is a journalist and critic. Her new book is Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion.

“There isn’t one answer. I wish there was one answer. The answer is: You just have to wing it. And I’m learning that — I’m learning to be okay with the winging it. ... I guess the lesson to me of what went on with a lot of women in the book is: You have to be comfortable with the fact that some days are going to be good, and some days are going to not be good.”

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Craig Mod is a writer and photographer. His podcast is On Margins.

“You pick up an iPad, you pick up an iPhone—what are you picking up? You’re picking up a chemical-driven casino that just plays on your most base desires for vanity and ego and our obsession with watching train wrecks happen. That’s what we’re picking up and it’s counted in pageviews, because—not to be reductive and say that it’s a capitalist issue, but when you take hundreds of millions of dollars of venture capital, and you’re building models predicated on advertising, you are gonna create fucked-up algorithms and shitty loops that take away your attention. And guess what? You need to engage with longform texts. You need control of your attention. And so I think part of what subverted our ability to find this utopian reading space is the fact that so much of what’s on these devices is actively working to destroy all of the qualities needed to create that space.”

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Tom Bissell is a journalist, critic, video game writer, and author of The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made. His latest book is Magic Hours.

“I kind of have come around to maybe not as monkish or fanatical devotion to sentence idolatry as I was when I was a younger writer, earlier in my career. I think I’m coming around to a place where a lot of middle-aged writers get to, which is: I tried to rewire and change the world with the beauty of language alone—it didn’t work. Now how about I try to write stuff that’s true, or that’s not determined to show people I am a Great Writer. Like a lot of young writers, you’re driven by that. Then at a certain point you realize A) you’re not going to be the Great Writer you wanted to be, and B) the determination of that is completely beyond your power to control, so best that you just write as best you can and as honestly as you can, and everything else just sort of becomes gravy.”

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Will Mackin is a U.S. Navy veteran who served with a SEAL team in Iraq and Afghanistan. His debut book is Bring Out the Dog.

“I wanted to write nonfiction and I started writing nonfiction. And the reason I did that was — first of all, I felt all the people did all the hard work, and who was I to take liberties? And the second reason was, I just felt an obligation to the men and women who I served with not to misrepresent them, or what they’d been through, or what it had meant to them, or how they felt about it. I kept piling these requirements on to myself: Well, if I present this particular event in this light, this guy’s going to get his feelings hurt. Or, I don’t know how this guy’s family will feel about me talking about this. And it became debilitating, all those restrictions, I kind of kept layering on myself. I was talking to George Saunders at one point about this, and I was like, ‘I don’t know if this book is going to happen. I’m just stuck’ And he pointed out, ‘You’re putting all these restrictions on yourself because it puts this perfect book off in the never-to-reach future. If you remove those and start fictionalizing things and getting at it a different way, maybe it’ll work for you.’”

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Nitasha Tiku is a senior writer at Wired.

“I’ve always been an incredibly nosy person—not nosy, curious. Curious about the world. It just gives you a license to ask any question, and hopefully if you have a willing editor, the freedom to see something fascinating and pursue it. It was just a natural fit from there. But that also means I don’t have the machismo, ‘breaking news’ sort of a thing. I feel like I can try on different hats, wherever I am.”

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Chana Joffe-Walt is a producer and reporter at This American Life. Her latest story is "Five Women."

“I felt like there was more to learn from these stories, more than just which men are bad and shouldn’t have the Netflix special that they wanted to have. And I was interested, also, in that there were groups of women, and that somehow, in having a group of women, you would have variation of experience. There could be a unifying person who they all experienced, but they would inevitably experience that person differently. And that would raise the question of: Why? And I feel like there is this response: ‘Why did she stay?’ Or: ‘Why didn’t she say fuck you?’ Or: ‘I wouldn’t have been upset by that. I wouldn’t have been offended by that thing.’ Which I feel like is a natural response, but also has a lack of curiosity. There are actual answers to those questions that are interesting.”

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Joe Weisenthal is the executive editor of news for Bloomberg Digital and the co-host of What’d You Miss? and Odd Lots.

"If I don’t say yes to this, then I can never say yes to anything again. Because when else am I going to get a chance in life to co-host a tv show? Even if it’s terrible, and I’m terrible at it, and it’s cancelled after three months, and everyone thinks it’s awful, for the rest of my life, I’ll be able to say I co-hosted a cable TV show. And so I was like, you know what—I have to say yes to this."

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Sean Fennessy is the editor-in-chief of The Ringer and a former Grantland editor. He hosts The Big Picture.

"What I try to do is listen to people as much as I can. And try to be compassionate. I think it’s really hard to be on the internet. This is an internet company, in a lot of ways. We have a documentary coming out that’s going to be on linear television that’s really exciting. Maybe we’ll have more of those. But for the moment, podcast, writing, video: it’s internet. [The internet] is an unmediated space of angst and meanness and a willingness to tell people when they’re bad, even when they’ve worked hard on something. That’s like the number one anxiety that I feel like we’re dealing with on a day-to-day basis with everybody, myself included."

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Jenna Wortham is a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine and a co-host of Still Processing.

“I feel like I’m still writing to let my 10-year-old self know it’s okay to be you. It’s okay to be a chubby androgynous weirdo. You know what I mean? Like this weird black kid. It’s okay. There are others like you.”

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Michael Idov is a screenwriter, journalist, and the former editor-in-chief of GQ Russia. His latest book is Dressed Up for a Riot.

"It just goes to show that the best thing you can possibly do as a journalist is to forget you’re a journalist, go out, have some authentic experiences, preferably fail at something really hard, and then write about that."

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Liliana Segura writes for The Intercept.

"My form of advocacy against the death penalty, frankly, has always been to tell those stories that other people aren’t seeing. And to humanize the people—not just the people facing execution, but everyone around them."

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Seth Wickersham is a senior writer for ESPN. His latest article is "For Kraft, Brady and Belichick, Is This the Beginning of the End?"

“You want to write about something real. I hate stories that are, the tension of the story is, talk radio perception versus the reality that I see when I’m with somebody. I can’t stand those stories because to me, you’re just writing about the ether versus a real person, and that’s not a real tension to me. The inner tensions are the best tensions. You can’t get to them with everybody, but you try.”

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Nathan Thornburgh is the co-founder and co-publisher of Roads & Kingdoms.

"You have to remain committed to the kind of irrational act of producing journalism for an uncaring world. You have to want to do that so bad, that you will never not be doing that. There’s so many ways to die in this business."

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Kiera Feldman is an investigative reporter. Her latest article is "Trashed: Inside the Deadly World of Private Garbage Collection."

"I used to have a lot of anxiety that I don’t seem like an investigative reporter. Utlimately, my reporting personality is just me. It’s just, I want to be real with people. And the number one rule of reporting is to be a human being to other people. Be decent. Be kind."

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Azmat Khan is an investigative reporter and a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine.

"For me, what matters most is systematic investigation, and I think that’s different than an investigative story that might explore one case. It’s about stepping back and understanding the big picture and getting to the heart of something. It doesn’t have to be a number’s game, but being able to say: Look, I looked at a wide enough sample of whatever this issue is, and here is what this tells us. That is what I crave and love the most."

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Ben Taub is a staff writer at The New Yorker.

“I don’t think it’s my place to be cynical because I’ve observed some of the horrors of the Syrian War through these various materials, but it’s Syrians that are living them. It’s Syrians that are being largely ignored by the international community and by a lot of political attention on ISIS. And I think that it wouldn’t be my place to be cynical when some of them still aren’t.”

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