Ana Marie Cox is the senior political correspondent for MTV News, conducts the “Talk” interviews in The New York Times Magazine, and founded Wonkette.

“When people are sending me hate mail or threats, one defense I have against that is ‘you don’t know me.’ You know? That wasn’t something I always was able to say. As I’ve become a stronger person, it’s been easier for me to be like, ‘The person they’re attacking, it’s not me.’”

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Brooke Gladstone is the host of On the Media.

“I’ve learned so much about how easy it is to redefine reality in this era of billions of filter bubbles. How easy it is to cast doubt on what is undeniably true. And I think that that’s what frightens me the most. I actually think that’s what frightens most people the most. How do we make sure that we all live in the same world? Or do we?”

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Ezra Edelman is the director of O.J.: Made in America.

“When I say what I learned is that America is even more fucked up than I had previously thought, it’s that—the superficiality of it. How we are willingly seduced by these shiny people and these shiny things. And, again, when I looked at O.J.’s trajectory, that was an operating principle.”

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Alexey Kovalev is a Moscow-based journalist and the author of the recent article, “A Message to My Doomed Colleagues in the American Media."

“It’s really disheartening to see how little it takes for people to start believing in something that directly contradicts the empirical facts that they are directly confronting. The Russian TV channel tells you that the pill is red, but the pill in front of you is blue. It completely alters the perception of reality. You don’t know what’s real anymore.”

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Jeff Sharlet writes about politics and religion for Esquire, GQ, New York Times Magazine, and more.

“I like the stories with difficult people. I like the stories about people who are dismissed as monsters. I hate the term ‘monster.’ ‘Monster’ is a safe term for us, right? Trump’s a monster. Great, we don’t need to wrestle with, ‘Uh oh, he’s not a monster. He’s in this human family with us.’ I’m not normalizing him. I’m acknowledging the fact. Now, what’s wrong with us? If Trump is human, what’s wrong with you?”

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Jace Clayton is a music writer and musician who records as DJ /rupture. His book is Uproot: Travels in 21st-Century Music and Digital Culture.

“What does it mean to be young and have some sound inside your head? Or to be in a scene that you want to broadcast to the world? That notion of the world is changing, who you’re broadcasting to is changing, all these different things—the tool sets. But there’s this very fundamental joy of music making. I was like, ‘Ok. Let’s find flashpoints where interesting things are happening and can be unpacked that shed different little spotlights on it, but do fall into this wider view of how we articulate what’s thrilling to be alive right now.’”

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Terry Gross is the host and co-executive producer of Fresh Air.

“Part of my philosophy of life is that you have to live with a certain amount of delusion. And part of the delusion I live with is that maybe, from experience, I’m getting a little bit better. But then the other part of me, the more overpowering part of me, is the pessimistic part that says, ‘It’s going to be downhill from here.’ I try not to judge myself too much because I’m so self-judgmental that I don’t want to over-judge and get into too much of ‘Am I better than I was yesterday, or not?’”

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is the author of Between the World and Me and a national correspondent for The Atlantic. His latest cover story is “My President Was Black."

“[People] have come to see me as somebody with answers, but I don’t actually have answers. I’ve never had answers. The questions are the enthralling thing for me. Not necessarily at the end of the thing getting somewhere that’s complete—it’s the asking and repeated asking. I don’t know how that happened, but I felt like after a while it got to the point where I was seen as having unique answers, and I just didn’t. I really, really didn’t.”

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Hua Hsu writes for The New Yorker and is the author of A Floating Chinaman: Fantasy and Failure Across the Pacific.

“I remember, as a kid, my dad telling me that when he moved to the United States he subscribed to The New Yorker, and then he canceled it after a month because he had no idea what any of it was about. You know, at the time, it certainly wasn’t a magazine for a Chinese immigrant fresh off the boat—or off the plane, rather—in the early 70s. And I always think about that. I always think, ‘I want my dad to understand even though he’s not that interested in Dr.Dre.’ I still think, ‘I want him to be able to glean something from this.’”

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Carl Zimmer, a columnist for the New York Times and a national correspondent at STAT, writes about science.

“[Criticism] doesn’t change the truth. You know? Global warming is still happening. Vaccines still work. Evolution is still true. No matter what someone on Twitter or someone in an administration is going to say, it’s still true. So, we science writers have to still be letting people know about what science has discovered, what we with our minds have discovered about the world—to the best of our abilities. That’s our duty as science writers, and we can’t let these things scare us off.”

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Wesley Lowery is a national reporter at the Washington Post, where he worked on the Pulitzer-winning project, "Fatal Force." His new book is They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement.

“I think that we decided at some point that either you are a journalist or you are an activist. And I identify as a journalist, to be clear, but one of the reasons I often don’t engage in that conversation—when someone throws that back at me I kind of deflect a little bit—is that I think there’s some real fallacy in there. I think that every journalist should be an activist for transparency, for accountability—certainly amongst our government, for first amendment rights. There are things that by our nature of what we do we should be extremely activist.”

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Adam Moss is the editor of New York Magazine.

“I think [change] is good for journalism—it’s what journalism is about. You can’t write about something static. News is about what is new. So there’s plenty of new right now. I’m not saying it’s good for the citizenry or anything like that, but, yeah, for journalists it’s an extremely interesting time. There’s no denying that.”

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Kyle Chayka is a freelance writer who writes for Businessweek, The Verge, Racked, The New Yorker, and more.

“I love that idea of form and content being the same. I want to write about lifestyle in a lifestyle magazine. I want to critique technology in the form of technology, and kind of have the piece be this infiltrating force that explodes from within or whatever. You want something that gets into the space, and sneaks in, and then blows up.”

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Susan Casey is the former editor of O and the author of three New York Times bestselling books. Her latest is Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins.

“The funny thing is people often say, ‘You must be fearless.’ I’m always afraid of whatever it is. But for whatever reason—I think it’s partly naïvety, partly just overwhelming curiosity—I am also not going to let fear stop me from doing things even if I feel it. Unless it’s that pure…you do have to listen to your body sometimes if it tells you not to do something that could result in you really never coming up from falling on that 70-foot wave.”

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Wesley Morris is a critic at large for The New York Times, a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, and the co-host of Still Processing. His latest article is "Last Taboo: Why Pop Culture Just Can’t Deal With Black Male Sexuality."

“You learn a lot of things about your sexuality at an early age. You know, I learned that your penis is a problem for white people, that you can’t be too openly sexual in general because that could get you in trouble because someone could misconstrue what you’re doing, and, in my case, I also knew I was gay. So I had to deal with, ‘Ok so my dick is a problem in general, and I’m not even interested in putting my penis where it’s supposed to go. This is going to be bad.’”

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Doreen St. Félix is a writer at MTV News.

“It feels like there are images of black utopias that are arising. And you can’t—even if you’re not as superstitious as me—you can’t possibly think that that doesn’t have to do with the decline, the final, to me, last gasp of white supremacy. It really does feel like we’re approaching that, [but] that approach might be a thousand years.”

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Emily Witt is a freelance writer and the author of Future Sex.

“I think I had always thought that—maybe this is coming from a WASPy, protestant background—if I presented myself as overtly sexual in any way, it would be a huge turnoff. That they would see me as a certain type of person. They wouldn’t have respect for me. And I thought this both professionally—I thought maybe writing this book was going to be really bad for my career, that nobody would take me seriously anymore—and also that nobody would want to date me if I was too honest. In both counts the opposite happened.”

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Krista Tippett is the host of On Being and the author of Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living.

“Good journalists in newsrooms hold themselves to primitive standards when they’re covering religious ideas and people. They’re sloppy and simplistic in a way that they would never be with a political or economic person or idea. I mean they get facts wrong. They generalize. Because they don’t take it seriously, and they don’t know how to take it seriously.”

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Luke Dittrich is a contributing editor at Esquire. His new book is Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets.

“As soon as I told [my mom] that I got my first book deal for this story about Patient H.M., her first words were, ‘Oh no.’ That was sort of her gut reaction to it because, I think, she knew at a certain level that I was going to be dredging up very painful stories. And I think at that point even she didn’t know the depth of the pain that some of the stories that I was going to find were going to lay out there.”

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A.J. Daulerio is the former editor-in-chief of Gawker.

“The choices they’ve given me are take back everything that you loved about Nick [Denton], Gawker, and your job, and we’ll give you your $1,000 back or your ability to make money. You can walk away from this, but you just can’t talk about it ever again. I don’t see there’s any question for me. I definitely thought long and hard about it, and I’ve talked to a lot of people about it. It’s just not in me. Some days I absolutely wish I could say, ‘Is there a phone call I could make to make this all go away?’ Because I want my life back. That’s happened. But for the most part I just think I would regret doing that.”

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Julia Turner is editor-in-chief of Slate.

“That’s what we’ve been focused on: trying to double down on the stuff that feels distinctive and original. Because if you spend all your time on a social platform, and a bunch of media brands are optimizing all their content for that social platform, all those media brands’ headlines say the same, all the content is pretty interchangeable. It turns media into this commodity where then what is the point of developing a media company for 20 years? You might as well take the Silicon Valley approach and just make a new one every three years for whatever that moment is.”

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Naomi Zeichner is editor-in-chief of The Fader.

“Right now in rap there’s kind of a huge tired idea that kids are trying to kill their idols, and kids have no respect for history, and kids are making bastardized crazy music, and how dare they? I just don’t even know why we still care about this false dichotomy. Kids are coming from where they come from, they’re going where they’re going. And it’s like, do you want to try to learn about where they’re coming from and where they’re going, or do you not?”

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Ben Taub is a contributing 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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Sarah Schweitzer is a former feature writer for the Boston Globe.

“I just am drawn, I think, to the notion that we start out as these creatures that just want love and were programmed that way—to try to find it and to make our lives whole. We are, as humans, so strong in that way. We get knocked down, and adults do some horrible things to us because adults have had horrible things done to [them]. There are some terrible cycles in this world. But there’s always this opportunity to stop that cycle. And there are people who come along who do try that in their own flawed ways.”

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Rachel Monroe is a freelance writer based in Texas.

“I will totally go emotionally deep with people. If I can find a subject who is into that then it will probably be a good story. Whether that person is a victim of a crime, or a committer of a crime, or a woman who spends a lot of time on the internet looking for hoaxes, or whatever it may be—I guess I just think people are interesting. Particularly when those people have gone through some sort of extreme situation.”

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