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.

“I think that the taking of extra time to be more thoughtful and less reactive is, to the extent that I have any wisdom to impart, that is it. Just wait a second. Because someone’s going to get there before you get there anyway.”

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Evan Ratliff, a co-host of the Longform Podcast, is the author of The Mastermind: Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal.

“We’re all less moral than we think we are, including myself. I’m interested in the justifications people provide for themselves to get deep into something that starts as one thing and ends up as a murderous criminal cartel. Paul Le Roux, sure—but also doctors and pharmacists. It’s interesting to think about where the pressures in our lives create moral ambiguity that we didn't think was there, and why we do things that we’ve said we'll never do. We look at someone else and think that they’re really bad or evil, but then we’ve never experienced those pressures. That cauldron of factors is something I’m very interested in because I think it applies to everyone.”

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Kiese Laymon is the author of How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America and Heavy: An American Memoir.

“It’s ironic to me that my mom was the woman who taught me how to read. She was the black woman who taught me how to read and write. And everything I wrote outside of my house I was taught not to write to my mama. I just think that’s where we are as black writers and black creators in this country. Literally because most of our teachers are white. Principals are white. The standards are white. But I wanted to flip this on its head and I wanted to write this book to the person who taught me how to read and write. And, yeah, we got some dysfunctional, fucked-up shit going on. But we also have some abundant love shit going on, too.”

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Patrick Radden Keefe is a New Yorker staff writer. His latest book is Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland.

“What was strange for me was that it was before I was born, almost a half-century ago. I went to Belfast and asked people about it and you could see the fear on people’s faces. So this notion that this event that’s older than I am still felt so radioactive in the present day was challenging from a reporting point of view, but it also, at every step along the way, made me feel as though it was good that I was doing this project. That this was not a kind of inert, stale history story I was telling. It was something that was vivid and palpable and menacing even now.”

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Rosecrans Baldwin is a writer and regular contributor to GQ. His latest novel is The Last Kid Left.

“It requires a lot of preparation in order to just have lunch with Roger Federer. Being a person who tends toward anxiety and also a former Boy Scout—put those two things together and I will exhaustively prepare so that I can come across like a complete idiot. The idea of sitting down with someone like that is that you should know everything about their life and their career so that you can go in with 12 questions in the back of your mind.”

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Christie Aschwanden is a freelance science writer. Her latest book is Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn from the Strange Science of Recovery.

“I think every writer has this sort of obsession in a story that they write over and over in different forms. For me, it’s about belief and how do we decide what to believe. How do we choose what evidence is credible? How do we make those decisions?”

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Lydia Polgreen, former foreign correspondent and director of NYT Global at The New York Times, is the editor in chief of HuffPost.

“Like a lot of people, I think I went a little bit crazy after Donald Trump got elected. ... If Hillary Clinton had won the election, I have a feeling that I would still be a mid-level manager at The New York Times. But after the election, I really started to think about journalism, about my role in it, about who journalism was serving and who it was for, and I just became really enamored with this idea that you could create a news organization that was less about people who are left out of the political and economic power equations, but actually for them.”

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Thomas Morton is a writer and former correspondent for HBO's Vice News. He was at Vice from 2004-2019 and is a major character in Jill Abramson's Merchants of Truth.

“You have to go with your gut and I feel like that’s one of the most essential qualities in doing anything of the nature of what we did. Of making documentaries or reporting news or current events, you really have to have a good sense of intuition for who you’re dealing with, what they’re telling you, what you’re telling them, how you’re behaving. It’s all human interaction, you can’t govern that with hard and fast rules or with extremely set rules. Beyond the extreme ones there are always going to be murky areas. You have to be willing to accept that and work with those.”

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David Grann is a staff writer for the New Yorker. His new book is The White Darkness.

“I do think in life, and in reporting, that reckoning with failure is a part of the process. And reckoning with your own limitations. I think that’s probably the arc and change I have made as I get older. Just as O’Shea doesn’t get the squid, failure is such an integral part of life and what you make of it. Too often we’re always focused on the success side, and I don’t always think the successes teach us as much as the journey and having things elude us. ... I'm being completely honest, I look at every story I've ever written as a failure. Because I always have some model, some perfect ideal, that I want to try to reach.”

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Tommy Tomlinson, a former newspaper columnist, is the host of Southbound podcast. His new book is The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man's Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America.

“The thing that galvanized me was the death of my sister. I signed the contract November 2014, she died Christmas Eve of that year. She had been overweight just like me. She was older than me and died from complications, an infection that was directly connected to her weight. And that more than anything made me think if I don’t deal with this now, I’m not going to be around in 10 years to write this book. So, the book helped certainly. The idea that I was going to put this stuff on paper and expose myself in this way to the world and I didn’t want to be a failure at the end of it. More than that, I didn’t want to be a failure because I didn’t want to be a failure. I don’t want to die.”

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Julie Snyder, one of the first producers at This American Life, is the co-creator of Serial and S-Town.

“I am constantly second-guessing myself. I am full of regret and recrimination all the time. I don’t pride myself on it cause it probably goes too far, but in other ways I do feel like I am a person who is very flawed and I make mistakes and I try and learn from them. And I try to be very open to other people’s thoughts and input and everything like that. So to be that open to criticism after season one [of Serial] was rough for being that open because we just got so much attention. I could feel people being like, ‘Oh, go cry on your bags of money.’ It was huge. I got that, but at the same time, it was hard to ignore.”

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Doug Bock Clark has written for GQ, Wired, and The New Yorker. His new book is The Last Whalers: Three Years in the Far Pacific with a Courageous Tribe and a Vanishing Way of Life.

“I think for me the answer has always been you just find the people. You just listen to their stories. I think we're all microcosms, right? We're all fractals of the bigger world. Whether it's my own life or your life or the Lamalerans or other people I've encountered reporting. I think one of the things I'm constantly aware of is how these sort of greater world historical forces are working on us and shaping our lives. For more people than most people would assume, if you just followed their life and looked at it in the particulars but also in the broader circumstances, you could probably draw larger themes from them and their experiences. I never had any worries about whether I could expand the Lamaleran story. It was always just about getting those specific stories right, and I knew the rest of it would come.”

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Lizzie Johnson covers wildfires for the San Francisco Chronicle.

“It’s kind of like when you’re a beginning journalist and you have to write an obituary—calling the family of the person who died seems like this insurmountable, very invasive task and you really don’t want to do it. That’s kind of how I felt about interviewing fire victims at first. I felt like I was somehow intruding on their grief and their pain. But somewhere along the way I realized there’s healing power in talking about what you’ve been through. Saying it out loud and being able to claim ownership to it. I found that time after time these people are very grateful because they need to talk. They have something to say in the aftermath of this big, massive thing that just came and wiped out everything they knew. They really do just need someone to listen to them. I have never had someone tell me, ‘Go away, we don’t want to talk to you.’ And I’m completely bowled over by that every single time.”

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Malcolm Gladwell is a New Yorker staff writer, the author The Tipping Point and Blink, and the host of Revisionist History. His new podcast is Broken Record.

“The loveliest thing is to interview someone who’s never been interviewed before. To sort of watch them in a totally novel experience. Particularly when you’re interviewing them about things they never thought were worthy of an interview. That’s a really lovely experience. It’s like watching a kid on a roller coaster for the first time. But a celebrity is a very different kind of experience. The bar for them is quite high. They’ve been interviewed a million times, so you have to be on your game. You have to take them somewhere that’s a little unfamiliar to get them to perk up. Otherwise it’s just another of a long line of interviews. It’s a lot more demanding.”

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Samin Nosrat is a food writer, educator, and chef. She is the author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and hosts a series by the same name on Netflix.

“I kind of couldn’t exist as just a cook or a writer. I kind of need to be both. Because they fulfill these two totally different parts of myself and my brain. Cooking is really social, it’s very physical, and also you don’t have any time to become attached to your product. You hand it off and somebody eats it, and literally tomorrow it’s shit. … Whereas with writing, it’s the exact opposite. It’s super solitary. It’s super cerebral. And you have all the time in the world to get attached to your thing and freak out about it.”

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Allison P. Davis is a staff writer at The Cut and New York.

“I have no real advice other than don’t fuck it up and be afraid all the time. That’s the key to success. Don’t fuck it up. Be a little bit anxious all the time.”

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Dan Taberski is the host of Missing Richard Simmons and Surviving Y2K.

“Why would you walk into podcasting, where not a lot of rules have been written yet, why would walk into that space and be like, I'm just going to stick to the rules over here. It doesn't make any sense. ... Sourcing, respect for privacy — all these rules are here for a reason. And there's a line you shouldn't cross. But I don't see the point of not walking up to that line and looking over it. Because that is where interesting stuff is happening. ... To be able to earn that ability to cross the line a little bit and then jump back to where you belong, I think that's where beautiful storytelling happens.”

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Maria Streshinsky is the executive editor at Wired.

“Sometimes a story comes in and it’s really lovely and well done. And you think if you just got on the phone with this person and pointed out the structure is wrong here and the chronology is wrong here, ask them to change that and send them what is known at Wired as the ‘praise sandwich letter’: how wonderful something is, how much work it will need, how wonderful it will be. … It’s not the kiss of death, it’s ‘we have a lot of work to do.’ … There are lots of pieces that come in that you’ve assigned because it’s the person with the right information with the right access, and they’re a good reporter, but maybe not a terrific wordsmith. So, you do more rewriting. Then there’s the other person that’s a really lovely, lovely writer that doesn’t have the structure and the reporting so you push on that. It’s sort of a three or four-pronged thing—it depends on the piece. I will say, somewhat controversially, there aren’t that many pieces that come in pretty clean.”

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Nicholas Schmidle is a staff writer for The New Yorker. His latest article is "Virgin Galactic's Rocket Man."

“I think there’s a lot more pressure that I’ve put on myself to make sure that the next [article] is better than the last one. To make sure there are sourcing standards and expectations I have for myself now that I might not have had earlier. I’m putting even more priority on building long-term relationships in which I trust an individual. ... I feel like the pieces coming in are tighter in terms of sourcing, but story selection becomes a lot more difficult. You want to do a different story.”

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Irin Carmon is a senior correspondent at New York, a contributor at CNN, and the co-author of Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“The fact that we were part of this entire wave of reporting was actually exhilarating. Even when it was competitive. For me, my desire to do this comes out of a broader set of commitments to the world. I’m a feminist and I’m a journalist. The ability to do feminist investigative journalism felt like a gift. And it also felt like, wow, this thing I’d been working on for a long time is something that institutions—the most prestigious and well-resourced institutions—wanted to put resources to. … I think that that kind of commitment is significant in our culture because it is validating it as a point of inquiry.”

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Madeleine Baran is an investigative reporter for APM Reports and the host and lead reporter of the podcast In the Dark.

“We’re always thinking about first not so much the narrative, but first what did we find out and how is it important? And how can we construct a story that’s going to take people along on that and they’re going to care about it and be able to follow it. That’s a challenge in any kind of serialized podcast or film where you have one narrative arc from start to finish in a season, but you also have all these individual episodes with narrative arcs. And because we’re not novelists, we don’t get to change the facts, sometimes there are these facts you do not like cause they’re really confusing and you wish they were not that way. We spend a lot of time in storyboarding and edits and group edits and sound edits. We bring in people who don’t know what we’re doing and have them listen for mostly for clarity and confusion.”

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Beth Macy is an author and former reporter at The Roanoke Times. Her latest book is Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America.

“I learned how to interview by delivering papers. I didn’t know it was interviewing, but I would stop and talk to old people who were bored and lonely and have great conversations. I think I learned how to talk to people by delivering the papers. And there’s a certain thing you have to do when you have to collect the money and learn how to negotiate with people when you’re 11. That’s some reporting skills too.”

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Paige Williams is a New Yorker staff writer and the author of The Dinosaur Artist: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Quest for Earth's Ultimate Trophy.

“I was just sitting in a coffee shop and saw this thing about a Montana dinosaur thief, and thought, oh that’s really interesting, I don’t know anything about that. And I knew nothing about natural history, nothing about natural history museums. I was born and raised in Mississippi. We didn’t talk about that kind of stuff. I grew up in the Baptist church. It certainly wasn’t mentioned there. … It just was a world completely alien to me, which I love. I love going into worlds that I know nothing about, and I like to take them apart and put them back together again.”

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Joe Hagan is a correspondent at Vanity Fair and the author of Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine.

“It’s the story that begins with John Lennon on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1967 and ends with Donald Trump in the White House. In many ways the book takes you there, I wanted it to. It takes you through the culture as it metastasizes into what it is now. It had a lot to do with a sense of the age of narcissism. The worship of celebrity. Jann was very into celebrity, and worshipful of it and glorifying it and turning it into a thing and eventually celebrity displaces a lot of the ideas they originally started with in my estimation. That was a narrative thread that I began to pull in the book.”

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Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change and The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, is a staff writer at The New Yorker.

“I still nurse the idea in my heart of hearts that something you write, that there’s some key to this all. We’re all looking for the skeleton key that’s going to unlock it, and people will go, ‘Oh, that’s why we have to do something!’ I don’t want to say that I completely dispensed with that. I think that’s what motivates most journalists—this information is going to somehow make a difference. On the other hand, I have dispensed a lot of that. Now we’re so deep into all of this. The more you know about climate change and the numbers involved and the scale involved of what we need to do to really mitigate this problem, you know that we’re moving in absolutely the wrong direction. It’s not like we’re moving slowly, we’re moving in the wrong direction. It’s very hard to say anything I write is going to turn this battleship around.”

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