Laura Shin is a journalist covering cryptocurrency and hosts the podcast Unchained. Her new book is The Cryptopians: Idealism, Greed, Lies, and the Making of the First Big Cryptocurrency Craze.

“I was extremely well-acquainted with what the failings were with our traditional financial system. I was seeing through my other reporting how everything works now, and really understanding, whoa, this is not a good system. And then getting this education on what bitcoin is, I understood right away: wow, this is going to change the world.”

Tara Westover is the author of Educated.

“I used to be so fearful. ... I was afraid of losing my family. Then, after I had lost them, I was afraid that I made the wrong decision. Then I wrote the book and I was afraid that was the wrong decision. Everything made me frightened back then, and I just—I don't have that feeling now.”

Matthieu Aikins is a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine who has reported on Afghanistan since 2008. His new book is The Naked Don’t Fear the Water: An Underground Journey with Afghan Refugees.

“I think at some point you just say, screw it. I'm gonna act like a human being and help my friend. That's the most important thing. You actually realize, yeah, now that we're in it together, the only thing that matters is both of us staying alive and staying safe and getting where we need to go. And whatever I have to do to do that, I'm going to do.”

Brian Reed and Hamza Syed are co-hosts of the new podcast The Trojan Horse Affair.

“I had lost all faith in the reporting that already happened on the subject matter. And that was my mentality with each source and each interviewer. I wanted the debate ended in the room because I didn't want commentary beyond it. I didn't want any kind of interpretation beyond it. I wanted the situation to be resolved there and then…. And without certain answers, I thought we weren't going to be able to speak about this matter in the way that I wanted to speak about it.” —Syed

“I both desperately wanted to know the answer of who wrote the letter, but kind of understood that we probably weren't going to get it beyond a shadow of a doubt. And I thought that I had transmitted that to Hamza and that he understood that. But as time went on, I realized that he had not accepted that as the likely outcome. And this is what was actually so energizing to work with you, Hamza. You never let your hope and desire and hunger to get that answer ever get dimmed. Like, ever.” —Reed

Chuck Klosterman is a journalist and author of eleven books, including his latest, The Nineties.

”Selling out… was very much injected into the way I understood the world…. And I am now supposed to do all of these interviews and all of these podcasts promoting this book. And because it's a book about the nineties… it feels incredibly uncomfortable to me…. I think young people assume that selling out is only about money: that if you try to do something to make money, that means you're selling out, because the word ‘sell’ is in there. But that's not really how it was. I mean, what you were selling out was this idea of your integrity. And what your integrity was, was somehow not doing anything to make other people like you.”

Khabat Abbas is an independent journalist and video producer from northeastern Syria, and the winner of the 2021 Kurt Schork News Fixer Award.

”I can see from my experience that there is a gap between the editors, who are kind of elites in their luxury offices, and the amazing journalists who are in the field, who all sympathize with what they are seeing on the ground and want to cover [it], but they have to satisfy the editors. And this is how we end up having little gaps in the ways of covering in general. It's not a matter of like, they shaped it in this way. The problem, I think, it’s bigger. How this industry is working, how this industry is deciding what they should cover.”

Michael Schulman is a staff writer for The New Yorker. He recently profiled Jeremy Strong of Succession.

”There's an interesting moment that's part of this job where you’ve spent a lot of time with someone and it often feels very personal and very intimate. And then when you go to write the piece, you have to sort of take a breath and say to yourself, Okay, I'm not writing this for this person. I'm writing this for the reader.

Sarah Marshall is a writer and hosts the podcast You're Wrong About.

”I love it when people tell me that listening to the way I talk about these people in the stories that we tell, and just about the world generally, has made them practice empathy more. I almost feel like I have preserved this a-little-bit-past version of myself, because I've been on this journey throughout the pandemic of becoming pretty cynical, and then deciding cynicism is a luxury and that it feels better, ultimately, to try to believe in people.”

Abe Streep is a journalist and contributing editor for Outside. His new book is Brothers on Three: A True Story of Family, Resistance, and Hope on a Reservation in Montana.

”The way journalists talk about, ‘Did you get the story?’—that's not how I see this. That would be extractive in this setting, I think. If someone shares something personal with me, that is a serious matter. It's a gift and you’ve got to treat it with great respect.”

George Saunders is the author of eleven books. His latest is A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life.

”I really have so much affection for being alive. I really enjoy it. And yet, I’m a little negative minded in a lot of ways too, like I really think things tend to be fucked up. ... To get that on the page—to sufficiently praise the loveliness of the world without being a sap, and also lacerate the world for being so goddamn mean—to do those in the same story would be a great aspiration. And I haven’t gotten there yet.”

Emily Oster is an economist, professor, and author. Her new book is The Family Firm.

”[COVID] has been 18 months of being a person who is slightly more public, who is saying things that are somewhat more controversial, where people yell at me a lot. ... I do much less reading of the comments than I did early on because I found that eventually I just got mad and that's not a productive way to interact. And it affects how I think about what I write, and I would like what I write to be the things that I think are true, not the things I think will avoid people being angry.”

Kelefa Sanneh is a staff writer at The New Yorker. His book is Major Labels: A History of Popular Music in Seven Genres.

“I’m always thinking about how to not be that person at a party who corners you and tells you about their favorite thing and you’re trying to get away. It’s got to feel light and fun. And what that means in practice is writing about music for readers who don’t care about music, while at the same time writing something that the connoisseurs don’t roll their eyes too hard at.”

Anita Hill is a professor and author. Her new book is Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence.

"I really do feel that my life now has purpose. And my responsibility really is to live out that purpose as much as possible. The reason that this isn’t entirely daunting is that I realize I am one individual. And that the issues will not depend on me entirely. … But I also realize that every person who has the opportunity should be involved, and that includes me."

Ben Austen is a journalist and the author of High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing. Khalil Gibran Muhammad is the Ford Foundation Professor of History, Race and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and the author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America. Together they host the podcast Some of My Best Friends Are.

”We're not pretending to have all the answers, but we are attempting to say, ‘this is a real issue and it can't be covered up by simply ignoring it.’ And if you can see it for what it is and all of its full dimensions, you have a better shot at bringing people along to get the work done to fix it.”

Casey Johnston is a journalist and editor who writes the column "Ask A Swole Woman," which now appears in her newsletter ”She's a Beast.”

”I feel more comfortable lately with a sort of beloved-local-restaurant level of success. What's nice about Substack is that we've come to this place, that I hope lasts, where we can have this sort of local-restaurant relationship with writers, or I can have that with readers, where I don't have to be part of this big machine in order to do something that I really like.”

Mitchell S. Jackson is a journalist and author. His profile of Ahmaud Arbery, ”Twelve Minutes and a Life,” won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.

”What is 'great'? 'Great' isn’t really sales, right? No one cares what James Baldwin sold. So: Are you doing the important work?”

Ben Smith is the media columnist for The New York Times. He was the founding editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed News.

“I do think there's some kind of personality flaw deep in there of wanting to like, you know, find stuff out and tell people.... I'm not sure that's a totally sane or healthy personality trait, but it is definitely, for me, a personality trait…. I think that in political reporting, certainly, there's a kind of reporter who thinks that their job is basically to pull the masks off of these monsters. And I generally tend to think all these people—with some exceptions—are weird and complicated and often doing really awful things. But they aren't necessarily irredeemable or impossible to understand. They're interesting.”

Jay Caspian Kang is a contributor at New York Times Magazine. His new book is The Loneliest Americans.

”I have a lot of thoughts and talk to people to make sure my thoughts are right, or change them because I think they're wrong. What more does one want out of an intellectual life? It's good work.”

Mary Roach is the author of seven nonfiction books, including her latest, Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law.

"In these realms of the taboo, there's a tremendous amount of material that is really interesting, but that people have stayed away from. ... I'm kind of a bottom feeder. It's down there on the bottom where people don't want to go. But if that's what it takes to find interesting, new material, I'm fine with it. I don't care. I'm not easily grossed out. I don't feel that there's any reason why we shouldn't look at this. And over time, I started to feel that ... the taboo was preventing people from having conversations that it would be healthy to have."

E. Alex Jung is a senior writer for Vulture and New York

”When I'm in that space, I try to be a sponge. I'll just absorb whatever's happening or going on, and I'll be down to do mostly anything. I was actually thinking recently about what my limits would be in a profile. I was like—heroin? I don't think I would do that.”

Max Chafkin is a features editor and reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek. His new book is The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power.

“I think there's like a really good way to come up with story ideas where you basically just look for people who have given TED Talks and figure out what they're lying about. And there's also a tendency in the press to pump up these startups based on those stories. ... It's worth taking a critical look at these stars of the moment. Because often there's not as much there as we think. And if you’re talking about Theranos or something, there's some potential to do harm—but also it means that maybe more worthwhile efforts are not getting the attention they deserve.”

Hannah Giorgis is a staff writer at The Atlantic. Her latest feature is "Most Hollywood Writers’ Rooms Look Nothing Like America.”

”In general, when we talk about representation, we talk about what we see on our screens. We're talking about actors, we're talking about who are the lead characters, what are the storylines that they're getting. And I'm always interested in that. But I'm really, really interested in power ... how it operates, and process.”

Sarah A. Topol is a writer-at-large for The New York Times Magazine. Her latest feature is ”Is Taiwan Next?”

”I think you never actually ask people head-on about what they've been through. You always ask people to just tell you what they want to tell you about anything that has happened to them…. This event that happened to you, it doesn't define you. It’s not why I'm here necessarily. Like, tell me about your childhood. Tell me about your life. Tell me about the things you think are important in your community. And by the time we get to the traumatic part, I hope they've seen enough of who I am and how I interview to feel comfortable telling me that they don't want to talk about certain things.”

Lawrence Wright is an author, screenwriter, playwright, and a staff writer for The New Yorker.

”There’s nothing more important about a person than their story. In a way, that’s who we are. And yet, memories fade and people die. So those stories disappear and the job of the journalist is to go out before that happens and accumulate the kinds of stories that are going to help us understand who we are, why we are, where we are right now in time, and try to thread those stories into a coherent narrative. In a way, you give it a kind of immortality. And that’s a big job. It’s a great privilege.”

Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering are documentary filmmakers. Their latest miniseries is Allen v. Farrow.

”We're constantly looking for those moments that happen before the story is ever told. Or those moments where someone is deciding to tell a story or is going through a process that they think is private. … We think there's something about getting the moment before the first moment that people normally see.”