Kara Swisher is the executive editor and co-founder of Recode.

“I do the work. I just work harder than other people. I really do. I work harder, I interview more people, I call more people, I text more people. And so I find out, and they can not talk to me — fine. I know anyway. I’d like to talk to you, I’d like to give you a chance. I’d like to be fair. I’d like to hear your side of the story. And the most important thing is, I think smart people – and these are very smart people — like smart questions. They don’t like the fawning questions. They don’t like being licked up and down all day. Some of the day they like it. They want someone who knew them before they were billionaires. Because when you’re a billionaire, every day you’re so smart. Everyone wants something from you.”

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Tyler Cowen is an economist, the co-founder of Marginal Revolution, and the host of Conversations with Tyler. His latest book is The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream.

“I think of my central contribution, or what I’m trying to have it be, is teaching people to think of counter arguments. I’m trying to teach a method: always push things one step further. What if, under what conditions, what would make this wrong? If I write something and people respond to it that way, then I feel very happy and successful. If people just agree with me, I’m a little disappointed.”

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Jodi Kantor is a New York Times investigative reporter and the author of The Obamas. On October 5th, she (with Megan Twohey) published an article detailing decades of sexual harassment payoffs by Harvey Weinstein, and she has covered the story extensively since.

“Being a reporter really robs you of self-consciousness and shyness. You realize that it’s this great gift of being able to ask crazy questions, either really personal or very probing or especially with a powerful — to walk up to Harvey Weinstein, essentially and say, ‘What have you been doing to women all these years, and for how long? All of these other people may be afraid to confront you about it, but we are not.’ That is our job.”

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Jim Nelson is the editor-in-chief of GQ.

“One of the things that was initially a challenge was we would all think of ‘the print side’ and ‘the digital side.’ Now what we all think about is, ‘Okay, stop saying GQ.com and GQ the print edition. It’s just GQ!’ And once you cross that line, you don’t ever want to go back to it. I can’t imagine. The job has changed so much, even in the last three years, that when I look back, I think, ‘God, I was just such a quaint little fucker.’”

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Sarah Ellison is a special correspondent at Vanity Fair and the author of War at the Wall Street Journal.

“There’s no lack of stories. ... There’s always an element where you’re going to be parachuting into something that someone has likely written about, to some degree. You can’t shy away from going into something that’s a crowded field.”

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Patricia Bosworth is a journalist and biographer. Her latest book is The Men in My Life.

“The [acting] rejections are hellish and ghastly. At least they were to me. And I got tired of being rejected so much and also tired of not being able to control my life. And as soon as I became a writer, I had this control, I felt more active, more energized. But it was a decision that took a long time coming.”

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Michael Barbaro is the host of The Daily.

“I don’t think The Daily should ever be my therapy session. That’s not what it’s meant to be, but I’m a human being. I arrive at work on a random Tuesday, and I do an interview with a guy like that, and it just punched me right in the stomach.”

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Vanessa Grigoriadis writes for Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times Magazine. Her new book is Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus.

“I’m a controversial writer. I’ve never shied away from controversy. I’ve only really courted it because I realized a lot earlier than a lot of other people who are involved in this whole depressing business that clicks are the way to go, right? Or eyeballs, as we used to call them, or readership. I come out of a Tom Wolfe-like, Hunter S. Thompson kind of tradition. You don’t mince any words, you just go for the jugular and you say as many things that can stir people up as possible.”

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Dr. Jelani Cobb is a New Yorker staff writer and the author of three books, including The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress. He teaches journalism at Columbia University.

“Ralph Wiley — the sports writer, late Ralph Wiley — told me something when I was 25 or so, and he was so right. He said I should never fall in love with anything I’ve written. … The second thing he told me was, ‘You won’t get there overnight, and believe me, you don’t want to.’ I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t get it when he told me that. I was like — why would I not want to get there overnight? Now I’m like: Thank God I didn’t get there overnight. Because there’s so much writing I would have to explain.”

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PJ Vogt is the co-host of Reply All.

“Every radio story is broken. Everything is missing some piece it’s supposed to have. Everything has some weird interview that didn’t go the way you thought it was going to go, or you thought you had an answer but you were wrong.”

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Alex Goldman is the co-host of Reply All.

“I am not the authority on the internet. I’m not an expert on particularly anything, except stuff that I like.”

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Hillary Clinton is the former Democratic nominee for president. Her new book is What Happened.

“I hugged a lot of people after [my concession speech] was over. A lot of people cried … and then it was done. So Bill and I went out and got in the back of the van that we drive around in, and I just felt like all of the adrenaline was drained. I mean there was nothing left. It was like somebody had pulled the plug on a bathtub and everything just drained out. I just slumped over. Sat there. … And then we got home, and it was just us as it has been for so many years—in our little house, with our dogs. It was a really painful, exhausting time.”

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Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah is an essayist. Her latest piece is “A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof.”

“I remember feeling like ‘you’re playing chess with evil, and you gotta win.’ Because this is the most terrible thing I’d ever seen. And I was so mad. I still get so mad. Words aren’t enough. I’m angry about it. I can’t do anything to Dylann Roof, physically, so this is what I could do.”

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Ellen Barry is the former New York Times bureau chief for South Asia.

“Every time you leave a beat—and this is something that I think as foreign correspondents we rarely communicate to our readers—you’re walking away from a story which has really been your whole life for four or five years. And it’s hard to walk away…The majority of us live a story for a certain number of years, and then we just turn our backs on it.”

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Kate Fagan is a columnist and feature writer for ESPN. Her latest book is What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen.

“When I was professionally closeted, I was kind of bitter. I didn’t have a ton of empathy. And I don’t think I always asked the right question, because I wouldn’t ask people questions that I wouldn’t want to be asked…I had walls up. I wouldn’t even allow myself to be vulnerable in my writing. Because the whole point of my existence at that time was to circumvent any moment that could create vulnerability in a way that would frighten me. And I think you could that see in my writing.”

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Jay Caspian Kang is a writer at large at The New York Times Magazine and a correspondent for Vice News Tonight.

“I make a pretty provocative argument about how Asian American identity doesn’t really exist—how it’s basically just an academic idea, and it’s not lived within the lives of anybody who’s Asian. Like you grow up, you’re Korean, you’re a minority. You don’t have any sort of kinship with, like, Indian kids. You know? And there’s no cultural sharedness where you’re just like, ‘oh yeah…Asia!’”

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David Gessner is the author of ten books. His latest is Ultimate Glory: Frisbee, Obsession, and My Wild Youth.

“The ambition got in my way at first. Because I wanted my stuff to be great, and it froze me up. But later on it was really helpful. I’m startled by the way people don’t, you know, admit [they care] … it seems unlikely people wouldn’t want to be immortal.”

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Matthew Klam is a journalist and fiction writer. His new novel is Who Is Rich?.

“The New Yorker had hyped me with this “20 Under 40” thing…and when the tenth anniversary of that list [came], somebody wrote an article about it. And they found everybody in it, and I was the only one who hadn’t done anything since then, according to them. And the article, it was a little paragraph or two, it ended with ‘poor Matthew Klam.’”

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Maggie Haberman covers the White House for The New York Times.

“If I start thinking about it, then I’m not going to be able to just keep doing my job. I'm being as honest as I can — I try not to think about it. If you’re flying a plane and you think about the fact that if the plane blows up in midair you’re gonna die, do you feel like you can really focus as well? So, I’m not thinking about [the stakes]. This is just my job. This is what we do. Ask me another question.”

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Steven Levy covers technology for Wired, where he is the editor of Backchannel.

“It’s about people. Travis Kalanick’s foibles aren’t because he’s a technology executive. It’s because he’s Travis Kalanick. That’s the way he is. There is a certain strain in Silicon Valley, which rewards totally driven people, but that is humanity. And advanced technology is no guarantee—and as a matter of fact I don’t think it’ll do anything—from stopping ill-intentioned people from doing ill-intentioned things.”

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Mark Bowden is a journalist and the author of 13 books, including Black Hawk Down and his latest, Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam.

“My goal is never to condemn someone that I’m writing about. It’s always to understand them. And that, to me, is far more interesting than passing judgment on them. I want you to read about Che Thi Mung, an 18-year-old village girl, who was selling hats on corners in Hue in the daytime and going home and sharpening spikes to go into booby traps to try and kill American soldiers and ARVN soldiers in the evening. I want to understand why she would do that, why she would be so motivated to do that. And I think I did.”

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Brian Reed, a senior producer at This American Life, is the host of S-Town.

“It’s a story about the remarkableness of what could be called an unremarkable life.”

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Ginger Thompson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning senior reporter at ProPublica. Her most recent article is "How the U.S. Triggered a Massacre in Mexico."

“How many times have I written the phrase ‘a town that was controlled by drug traffickers?' I had no idea what that really meant. What does it mean to live in a town that’s controlled by drug traffickers? And how does it get that way? One of the things I was hoping that we could do by having the people who actually lived through that explain it to us was that—to bring you close to that and say, ‘No, here’s what that means.’”

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Patricia Lockwood is a poet and essayist. Her new book is Priestdaddy: A Memoir.

“[Prose writing is] strange to me as a poet. I’m like, ‘Well I guess I’ll tell you just what happened then.’ But the humor has to be there as well. Because in my family household…the absurdity or the surrealism that we have is in reaction to the craziness of the household. So something like your underwear-clad father with his hand in a vat of pickles, sitting in a room full of $10,000 guitars and telling you that he can’t afford to send you to college—that’s bad. That’s a sad scene. But it’s also totally a lunatic scene. It’s, just the very fact of it, all these accoutrements, all the elements of the scene—they are funny.”

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John Grisham is the author of 38 books, including his latest novel, Camino Island.

A Time to Kill didn’t sell. It just didn’t sell. There was never any talk of going back for a second printing. No talk of paper back. No foreign deal. It was a flop. And I told my wife, I said, ‘Look, I’m gonna do it one more time. I’m gonna write one more book…hopefully something more commercial, more accessible, more popular. If this doesn’t work, forget this career. Forget this hobby. I’m just gonna be a lawyer and get on with it.’”

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