Vinson Cunningham is a staff writer for The New Yorker.

“I think the job is just paying a bunch of attention. If you're a person like me, where thoughts and worries are intruding on your consciousness all the time, it is a great relief to have something to just over-describe and over-pay-attention to—and kind of just give all of your latent, usually anxious attention to this one thing. That, to me, is a great joy.”

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Katie Engelhart is a journalist and the author of the new book The Inevitable: Dispatches on the Right to Die.

“Billions of dollars of government money goes to the nursing home industry every year. And nobody has a nursing home correspondent. Nobody has an assisted living correspondent…. That's wild to me. As a journalist, someone tells me, Oh, there's an industry. It's hugely underregulated. It's getting billions of dollars a year. It is not super-accountable for that money. Who wouldn't want to cover that?”

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Luke Mogelson is a journalist and fiction writer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and other publications. His latest feature is ”Among the Insurrectionists.”

“Get to the front and document as much as you can. ... I think my approach is much more similar to photographers than other writers. I spend a lot of time with photographers and ... I feel like I've gotten pretty good at getting myself into situations where there's few or maybe no other writers around, but there's always a bunch of photographers…. I try to get in right behind the first photographers.”

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Mirin Fader is a staff writer for The Ringer.

“Nobody ever makes it makes it, right? You make it, and every day, you have to keep making it. That’s how I feel. Would I be the reporter I am if I wasn’t like that? I’m afraid to see what happens if I’m not. I’m afraid what type of reporter or writer I’ll be if I take my foot off the gas.”

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Stephanie Clifford is an investigative journalist and novelist who has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and many other publications. Her most recent article is "The Journalist and the Pharma Bro."

“I think your job as a journalist—particularly with people who are in vulnerable situations or people who are not used to press—is to explain what the fallout might be."

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Kenneth R. Rosen has written for The New York Times, Wired, The New Yorker, and many other publications. His new book is Troubled: The Failed Promise of America's Behavioral Treatment Programs.

“When I report, I keep two journals. … I keep my reporting notebook, which is sort of an almanac of dates, times, names, quotes, phone numbers. And then I have my personal notebook, which has all my fears and anxieties. And it invariably makes its way into the reporting … which is sort of an amalgamation of those two journals, of those two experiences, the internal and the external.”

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Ed Yong spent 2020 covering the pandemic for The Atlantic. His latest feature is "How Science Beat the Virus."

“I am trying to give readers a platform that they can stand on to observe this raging torrent that is the pandemic, this cascade of information that is threatening to sweep us all away. I’m trying to give people a rock on which they can stand so that they can observe what is happening without themselves being submerged by it. But I am trying to construct that platform while also being submerged in it.”

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Nilay Patel is editor-in-chief of The Verge and hosts the podcast Decoder.

“The instant ability—unmanaged ability—for people to say horrible things to each other because of phones is tearing our culture apart. It just is. And so sometimes, I’m like, Man, I wish our headline had been: ‘iPhone Released. It’s A Mistake.’ … But I think there’s a really important flipside to that … a bunch of teenagers are able to create culture at a scale that has never been possible before. Also, a bunch of marginalized communities are able to speak with coordinated voices and make change very rapidly. And that balance—I don’t think we’ve quite understood.”

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Wright Thompson is a senior writer for ESPN. His new book is Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last.

“If you’re going to write a profile of someone … you have to find some piece of common ground with them so that no matter how famous or good or noble or bad—or no matter how cartoonish their most well-known attributes are—it shrinks them. And once they’re small enough to fit in your hand, I think it changes the entire experience of asking questions about their lives.”

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Melissa del Bosque is an investigative journalist covering the U.S.-Mexico border.

“What I really want people to know is the context within which this traumatic event is happening. It doesn’t have to happen. It’s happening because certain people made certain decisions. Or they made a decision to do nothing. … There are laws, there are policies on the books that are either being ignored or could be changed.”

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Reggie Ugwu is an arts reporter for The New York Times.

“I find that even though I talk to celebrities or popular artists, I’m not all that interested in celebrity. I’m pretty uninterested in celebrity. But I’m really interested in creativity.”

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Stephanie McCrummen is a national enterprise reporter at The Washington Post.

“I do have to psych myself up. There’s always something awkward about it and that never goes away. … No matter how long I do this job, that part of it doesn’t get any easier. It’s always a bit awkward and you’re always sort of humbled when someone actually is willing to talk to you. Then it can be kind of thrilling, once you’re in it, once you’re actually in the conversation. ... But the moment a few seconds before that is still—to this day, it’s sort of an act of will.”

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Olivia Nuzzi is the White House correspondent for New York.

“I don’t think that, broadly speaking, this a group of redeemable people. … But I do think there is tremendous value, in this first draft of history, trying to understand why the fuck they are like this. … There is value in understanding why these people are like this because they are the reason why we are here in this situation. And I think it’s a [question] that historians will try to answer years from now. … I view my job as providing fodder for that.”

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Reeves Wiedeman is a reporter at New York Magazine and the author of the new book Billion Dollar Loser.

“You get inside these companies and … you assume everything is running based on models and numbers and then you get inside and it’s just people. And sometimes they have MBAs and sometimes they don’t. … At the end of the day, whether you’re running a media company or an office space company, it’s all people making these decisions and they often do very strange, contradictory, and ultimately unsuccessful things.”

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Latif Nasser co-hosts Radiolab. He also hosted The Other Latif and the Netflix documentary series Connected.

“It’s so easy to hate everything and be cynical. There’s a kind of ease to that. It takes a lot more courage to go up in front of everybody and be like, This is awesome. I love this. That takes a lot of guts, I think.”

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Barton Gellman is a staff writer for The Atlantic and was previously a Pulitzer-winning reporter at The Washington Post. His latest book is Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State and his latest essay is "The Election That Could Break America."

“I have found that I have a talent for accidentally pissing people off. ... I’m interested most in accountability and the use and abuse of power. So naturally it’s going to annoy people sometimes. And sometimes they take it like grown-ups and sometimes less so.”

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Latria Graham is a writer living in South Carolina. Her work has appeared in Outside, Garden & Gun, The Guardian, and The New York Times. Her latest essay is "Out There, Nobody Can Hear You Scream."

“My goal as a person—not just as a writer—is to be the adult that I needed when I was younger. That’s why I go and talk to college classes. That’s why I write some of these vulnerable things, to let people that are struggling know that they’re not on their own. … I have to be unmerciful to myself, I think, in order to do it. I really do try to dissect myself and my mistakes. And just kind of say, Here’s the full deck of my life. Take from it what you need. But I’m not holding out on you.

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Nicholson Baker is the author of 18 books of fiction and nonfiction. He has written for The New Yorker, Harper’s, and many other publications. His latest book is Baseless: My Search for Secrets in the Ruins of the Freedom of Information Act.

"In the end, I don’t care how famous you get, how widely read you are during your lifetime. You’re going to be forgotten. And you’re going to have five or six fans in the end. It’s going to be your grandchildren or your great-grandchildren are going to say, Oh, yeah, he was big. … So I think the key is, write what you actually care about. Because in the end, you’re only doing this for yourself. … So maybe do your best stuff for yourself and for the three, four, five people who know in the coming century that you ever existed. That’s all you need to do."

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Elizabeth Weil covers California and the climate for ProPublica. She has written for The New York Times Magazine, California Sunday, and more.

“As a journalist you’re endlessly asking people to tell you really personal, really vulnerable stuff about their lives. And I feel like you have to be willing to be in that conversation too—or really think about why you’re not willing.”

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Jiayang Fan is a staff writer for The New Yorker. Her latest article is a "How My Mother and I Became Chinese Propaganda."

"I think considering the unusual shape of our lives—the lives of my mother and I—from bare subsistence to one of the richest enclaves in America … it made me think about what the value of existence is. ... It made me wonder, What should a person be? And how should a person be? And being a writer has been a lifelong quest to answer those questions."

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Claudia Rankine is a poet, essayist, and playwright. She is the author of the new book, Just Us: An American Conversation.

“I began to wonder, why am I maintaining civility around things that are actually very important to me? This might be the only chance I get to stand up for myself. As Claudia. As a Black person. As a Black woman. As an American citizen. So what am I waiting for? What am I preserving when the thing I am supposedly preserving is also the thing that is on some level killing me?”

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is an author and journalist. He served as guest editor for the September issue of Vanity Fair, titled "The Great Fire."

“There’s this pressure to say something. Say something. The world’s burning, say something. But I try to stay where I’ve been or where I’ve tried to be in my career. ... Good things take time. You gotta let things cook. You can’t insta-bake something like this.”

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Baynard Woods and Brandon Soderberg are the co-authors of the new book I Got A Monster: The Rise and Fall of America's Most Corrupt Police Squad.

“We really wanted to create some kind of leftist, anti-racist true crime story that we really haven’t seen. The conventions of the thriller often smuggle in all of this really right-wing, pro-police propaganda that all of our cops were raised on—the story of cops having to crash cars and break rules in order to get the bad guys. We wanted to take that and subvert it, using its methods to blow it up from the inside while also being rigorously reported.”

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Andrea Valdez is the editor-in-chief of The 19th*.

“You know how sometimes you hear a song and you think, Gosh, it feels like that song has always existed and an artist just plucked it out of the air and played it and now it’s a part of our musical canon? I really hope that The 19th* is a news organization where it feels like it has always been, should have always been, and will always be there.”

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Jason Parham is a senior writer at Wired.

“I think of myself some days as a critic. Some days I think of myself as a journalist. But I essentially mostly think of myself as an essayist, somebody who is trying to bridge those two traditions. My approach to writing now is kind of simple…I’m always writing about things I like and want to hear about.”

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