Ed Yong is the author of I Contain Multitudes and a science writer at The Atlantic. His most recent article is "How the Pandemic Will End."

“Normally when I write things that are about a pressing societal issue, those pieces feel like they’re about things that need to get solved in timeframes of, say, months or years. ... But now I’m writing pieces that are affecting people’s choices and lives, and hopefully the direction of the entire country, on an hourly basis. The changes I hope to see, I hope to see immediately. Like right now. And that does create a massive sense of urgency, a sense of pressing, incredibly high stakes. And it’s a burden.”

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Charlie Warzel is a writer-at-large for The New York Times opinion page.

“I’m relying on my morals more than I normally do, but less on my gut. The stakes are just so high.”

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Jon Mooallem is a journalist, author, and host of The Walking Podcast. His latest book is This is Chance!: The Shaking of an All-American City, A Voice That Held It Together.

“There is this impulse that we have, this very clearly documented impulse that people everywhere have, to help. It sounds tacky, but when the bottom drops out, when ordinary life is overturned and there’s this upheaval or this disruption—if it’s a natural disaster or even something like this, that there’s ... in the book I call it a ‘civic immune response.’ People do spontaneously help each other, they work together, they collaborate. This whole idea that society falls apart and everyone descends into madness and violence is just not true. And we know that. We have science that shows it.”

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Jad Abumrad is the co-creator and host of Radiolab. His latest podcast is Dolly Parton's America.

“There’s a way in which, I think, it felt more honest to be more confused in our stories. So that’s where we went.”

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Mara Hvistendahl is a freelance reporter and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her first book, Unnatural Selection. Her new book is The Scientist and the Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage.

“In times of tension, Cold War historians believe that there’s this mirroring that goes on, that we start to behave like the enemy, and that that is the big risk. And I feel like that’s the moment we’re in now.”

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Hannah Dreier is a reporter at The Washington Post and the winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.

“You can’t come up with a good story idea in the office. I’ve never had a good idea that I just came up with out of thin air. It always comes from being on the ground.”

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Ronan Farrow is a Pulitzer-winning investigative reporter for The New Yorker. He is the author of Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators and hosts The Catch and Kill Podcast.

“It was the opposite of anything I would’ve expected, breaking a story like that. It wasn’t a moment of celebration. I was immensely relieved, and immensely grateful for the sources … and I was so grateful for those people at the New Yorker who had worked so hard. But it was a strange, numb time for me that ended, at the end of that day, with me bursting into tears.”

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Joshua Yaffa is a Moscow correspondent for The New Yorker. His first book is Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin's Russia.

“Especially in a place like Russia, where there’s a lot of sensitivity around what people might tell you—when they do open up to you, there’s a lot of trust there. And you better not abuse it or mishandle it, because you could put people in danger. Just being a decent person, and demonstrating that decency, goes a long way.”

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Ashley C. Ford is a writer and host of the podcast Fortune Favors the Bold. Her memoir, Somebody's Daughter, is forthcoming from Flatiron Books.

“For the first time I felt like I had so many more choices in my life than I originally thought I had. That was my first realization that I did not just have to react to the world, that I could be intentional in the world, and just curious about what came back to me.”

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Andrea Bernstein is a journalist and co-host of Trump, Inc., a podcast from WNYC and ProPublica. Her new book is American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power.

“Hope is an action. And I feel that writing and documenting is an action. When I stop doing those things, I will be hopeless. But because I am still doing those things, it means that I still have hope… so long as we continue to be actors in the world, we can be hopeful human beings.”

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Kevin Kelly is a writer and a founding executive editor of Wired Magazine. He is the author of What Technology Wants, Out of Control and The Inevitable: Understanding the Twelve Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future.

“I always try to write about the future—and it became harder and harder because things would catch up so fast. If you read Out of Control now, I’ve heard that people say, ‘well, this is obvious.’ I have to tell you, it was dismissed as entirely pie-in-the-sky, wild-eyed craziness twenty-five years ago.”

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Katherine Eban is an investigative journalist and contributing writer at Fortune Magazine. Her new book is Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom.

“I am not known for my optimism. I think it’s hard to do this work and retain a sunny view of humankind. I hate to say that. On the other hand, I do believe there will always be whistleblowers. And it’s interesting to me that even in the darkest spaces, even when it looks like everything is arrayed against them, there are people who will say: ‘This just isn’t right, and I must do something.’ Which is kind of extraordinary.”

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Cord Jefferson is a journalist turned television writer whose credits include Succession, The Good Place, and Watchmen.

“I’m a fearful person. I’m afraid of a lot of things. I’m afraid of how people perceive me, I’m afraid of hurting myself, I’m afraid of heights. I’m afraid of a lot. Bravery does not come naturally to me. But the moments when I feel like I’ve done the best in my life and been the proudest of myself are when I’ve overcome that fear to do something that scares me.”

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Elizabeth Wurtzel, who died today, was the author of four books, including Prozac Nation. This episode was originally published in October 2013.

"It's not that hard to be a lawyer. Any fool can be a lawyer. It's really hard to be a writer. You have to be born with incredible amounts of talent. Then you have to work hard. Then you have to be able to handle tons of rejection and not mind it and just keep pushing away at it. You have to show up at people's doors. You can't just e-mail and text message people. You have to bang their doors down. You have to be interesting. You have to be fucking phenomenal to get a book published and then sell the book. When people think their writing career is not working out, it's not working out because it's so damn hard. It's not harder now than it was 20 years ago. It's just as hard. It was always hard."

Jerry Saltz is a Pulitzer-winning art critic for New York.

“To this day I wake up early and I have to get to my desk to write almost immediately. I mean fast. Before the demons get me. I got to get writing. And once I’ve written almost anything, I’ll pretty much write all day, I don’t leave my desk, I have no other life. I’m not part of the world except when I go to see shows.”

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Liana Finck, a cartoonist and illustrator, contributes to The New Yorker and is the author of Excuse Me and Passing for Human.

"I was drawing since I was 10 months old. My mom had left this vibrant community of architects and art people to live in this idyllic country setting with my dad, and she poured all of her art feelings into me. She really praised me for being this baby genius, which I may or may not have been. But I grew up thinking I was an amazing artist. There weren’t any other artists around besides my mom, so I didn’t have anything to compare it to. There were no art classes around. … I was so shy, so I was just always drawing and making things."

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Mina Kimes is a senior writer at ESPN and host of the podcast ESPN Daily.

“What I’ve found, and this is something I did not know would be the case going into it, is that sports stories—and, at the risk of sounding a bit self-important, maybe someone like me writing sports stories or talking about it in particular—can have an impact in other ways that have revealed themselves to me over time.”

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Andy Greenberg is a senior writer for Wired. His new book is Sandworm.

“I kind of knew I was never going to get access to Sandworm, which is the title of the book - so it was all about drawing a picture around this invisible monster.”

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Parul Sehgal is a book critic for The New York Times.

“I write about books, I review books, but in a sense, to do my job at a newspaper also puts that pressure on a piece to say: why should you read or care about this? You’re trying to tweeze out what is newsworthy, what is interesting, what is vital about this book….My job is I think to be honest with the reader and to keep surfacing new ways for me and for other people to think about books. New vocabularies of pleasure and disgust.”

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James Verini is a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine and National Geographic. His new book is They Will Have to Die Now: Mosul and the Fall of the Caliphate.

“War is mostly down time. War is mostly waiting around for something to happen.”

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Lori Gottlieb is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and the author of Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. Her new book is Maybe You Should Talk to Someone.

“Everything that I had done all coalesced into one thing. As a journalist i was helping people to tell their stories, as a therapist I could help people to edit their stories, to change their stories. I could be immersed in the human condition in both of these things.”

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Leslie Jamison is the author of The Empathy Exams, The Recovering, and the novel The Gin Closet. Her new essay collection is Make It Scream, Make It Burn.

“My writing is always basically asking: what does it feel like to be alive, and how do we ever try to understand what it feels like for anybody else to be alive? In that sense, on the intellectual level, I’m always going to keep chasing the same unanswerable things.”

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Errol Morris is the director of The Thin Blue Line and The Fog of War. His latest film is American Dharma.

“I don’t make films because it makes sense to make them. Probably if I thought carefully about whether they made sense, I would stop immediately. I make them because I have a need to do it. I have a need to think about stuff. Writing and filmmaking for me is a form of thinking. It’s an opportunity to think about something. And I enjoy it. I don’t know what I would do without filmmaking.”

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Ashley Feinberg is a senior writer at Slate. She recently uncovered Mitt Romney's secret Twitter account.

“The whole thing about politics is that they are basically creating this character, this mask, and that is who they are supposed to be. That is who they try to project to the world. We know that it’s not really them but we have no access to what they actually are. This is the closest we get to seeing what they’re doing when they think no one is watching. … This is the most unfiltered access to what they’re actually thinking.”

Carvell Wallace is a podcast host and has written for The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. He is the co-author, with Andre Iguodala, of The Sixth Man.

“So much of my life experience coalesces into things that are useful… All those years that I was obsessing over this that or the other thing, all the weird stuff that I would do, all the weird things that happened to me, all the places I found myself in that I didn’t want to be in but were interesting - this is all part of what makes me the writer that I am today.”

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