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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Lisa Brennan-Jobs is a New York-based writer. Her new book is Small Fry.

"You find yourself in a whole net, in a constellation of stories, each one connecting to another. It was amazing how much I remembered. Sometimes I meet people and they say, goodness, I can’t even remember what I had for lunch. How can you remember so much? And I think, oh, sit down for a while writing badly and you will remember and remember and remember. Some things weren’t terribly pleasant to remember. And some things were incredibly wonderful."

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Liana Finck writes for The New Yorker. Her new book is Passing for Human: A Graphic Memoir.

"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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Rebecca Traister writes for New York. Her new book is Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger.

“I don’t want my experience to be held up as so, ladies, your new health regimen is rage all day. Because the fact is we live in a world that does punish women for expressing their anger, that denies them jobs, that attaches to them bad reputations as difficult-to-work-with, crazy bitches. Because they’re reasonably angry about something they have every reason to be angry about. We live in a world in which black women’s anger is either caricatured and they get written off as cartoons, or regarded as threats and face steep, often physical penalties for expressing dissent or dissatisfaction. When I talk about this, I don’t mean it to be prescriptive, I mean it to be descriptive of a particular experience I had that was extraordinarily unusual but which made me question a premise that I think all of us internalize that the anger is bad for us. I no longer believe that that’s true.”

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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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Eli Saslow is a Pulitzer-winning feature writer for the Washington Post. His new book is Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist.

“If I'm writing about somebody once for 5,000 words in the Washington Post — someone who's addicted to drugs, say — I am choosing in the public eye where their story ends. Like, that's it. People aren't going to know any more. That's where I'm going to leave them being written about. And of course, that is inherently artificial — nothing ends, their life is continuing. This is just where the narrative ends. I recognize the weight in ways that maybe I didn’t before.”

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Jeanne Marie Laskas writes for GQ and the New York Times Magazine. Her latest book is To Obama: With Love, Joy, Anger, and Hope.

“I hate saying this out loud, but it’s true: I’m really shy. Fundamentally, I'm 100% scared most of the time. I’m scared and wondering how I can not be noticed because I don’t know what to say and I’m shy. If you say I’m a good listener, that's why … I become more invisible so I’m more comfortable.”

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Elif Batuman is a novelist and a staff writer at The New Yorker. Her latest article is “Japan’s Rent-a-Family Industry.”

“I hear novelists say things sometimes like the character does something they don’t expect. It’s like talking to people who have done ayahuasca or belong to some cult. That’s how I felt about it until extremely recently. All of these people have drunk some kind of Kool Aid where they’re like, ‘I’m in this trippy zone where characters are doing things.’ And I would think to myself, if they were men—Wow, this person has devised this really ingenious way to avoid self-knowledge. If they were women, I would think—Wow, this woman has found an ingenious way to become complicit in her own bullying and silencing. It’s only kind of recently—and with a lot of therapy actually—that I’ve come to see that there is a mode of fiction that I can imagine participating in where, once I’ve freed myself of a certain amount of stuff I feel like I have to write about, which has gotten quite large by this point, it would be fun to make things up and play around.”

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Jon Caramanica is a music critic at The New York Times.

“I like to interview people very early in their careers or very late in their careers. I think vulnerability and willingness to be vulnerable is at a peak in those two parts. Young enough not to know better, old enough not to give a damn. … The story I want to tell is—how are you this person, and then you became this? Then at the end, let’s look back on these things and let’s paint the art together. But in the middle when your primary obsession is how do I protect my role? How do I keep my spot? How do I keep the throne? I’m not as interested in that personally as a journalist or as a critic. ”

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Jeff Maysh is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. His latest article is "How an Ex-Cop Rigged McDonald’s Monopoly Game and Stole Millions."

“I’ve always looked for stories with the theme of identity and identity theft. I’m very interested in people leading double lives. All of my stories are the same in a sense. Whether that’s a spy or a fake cheerleader or a bank robber or even a wrestler—someone is pretending to be someone they’re not, leading a double life. I find that really exciting. I’m drawn to characters who put on a disguise.”

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David Marchese is the interviewer for New York's "In Conversation" series.

"The thing I like about doing long interviews with people is that each one feels like a totally unique experience to me. It’s not like I go into an interview and already know the arc of the story I’m going to tell, and I’m going to just fill that in the best I can. I have ideas of what to talk about and what the conversation might entail, but it does feel like I’m starting at zero and the conversation can go anywhere.”

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