Jennifer Gonnerman is a contributing editor at New York and contributing writer for Mother Jones.

"How much do we really interact with people who are different from ourselves? We go to work, we go home, we go to a party—I feel like this is a fantastic opportunity to meet peope who are totally and completely different, from totally different worlds, backgrounds, interests, countries. It's almost like a passport to a different world with every story. Once you make that trip and go into someone's home and really listen to them, empathy is not that hard to come by."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!


Susan Orlean is a staff writer at The New Yorker.

"There's always the fear, which comes with having done it for a long time, that you're repeating yourself. That's actually a genuine concern—you worry that you're becoming an imitiation of yourself ... The funny thing is that you spend the first half of your career wanting desperately to have a voice that's distinctive and recognizable, then you go to the other side of that and think oh my god, all my stories sound the same."

Thanks to TinyLetter and Digg for sponsoring this week's episode!

In this special episode with Stephen Rodrick, contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine and contributing editor at Men's Journal, Rodrick discusses his recent story "Here Is What Happens When You Cast Lindsay Lohan in Your Movie."

"Publicists don't want to give you access because they're afraid of what you're going to see. But if you spend enough time with anybody, short of Mussolini or Ghengis Khan, they're going to humanize themselves. Because they're human beings, like you are. And they have whatever demented battles they're fighting, their version of crazy, but if you get to spend some time with them as flesh and blood, they're going to come across as flesh and blood in the story."

Starlee Kine is a contributor to This American Life and the New York Times Magazine.

"There's a fearlessness I had when I was younger that I don't have now ... It threw me into a crisis, the Internet in general. You're more cautious about what you kind of have out there. There's that, that I just don't want people to know every single thing anymore, but there's [also] an inner fear that did not exist before, an inner censoring that was not there."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

Charles Duhigg is a New York Times reporter and author of The Power of Habit.

"The stuff that gets cut out gets cut out for a reason. The discipline of space is always a good discipline. If it deserves to be read, it shouldn't be on the cutting room floor ... If it ends up on the cutting room floor, there's usually a reason why."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

Eli Sanders is an associate editor at The Stranger and the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing.

"There was one particular moment in the trial, which I described, where ... there was just not any human ability to be detached from what was happening in front of you, what was being shared. It was so painful, you could not help but cry, and there was no reason to deny that that moment had happened."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

Patrick Radden Keefe is a staff writer at The New Yorker.

"I tend not to like really prescriptive writing, and as often as not what I want to do is kind of get in and find the stories and the narratives almost as a delivery mechanism to just get people to sit up and think about it. Honestly, the areas that I'm interested in are so obscure, often, that the thing that I want is for people just to understand and care a little bit more than they did before."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

Choire Sicha is co-founder of The Awl.

"People come to me pretty much every week ... and say 'I'm starting a website about ... say ... Canadian ... candy makers' and they're like 'What's the secret?' And I say, the secret is when we launched there were three of us. Two of us were doing editorial. And one of was doing business. And guess what? We had a new product and he had nothing to do all day so he had to make himself a job that was about revenue. So, who is this dedicated person at your company? And they're like 'we're both editorial' and I'm like 'you're hosed, you're done, forget about it.'"

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

Mike Sager, writer-at-large for Esquire and founder of The Sager Group.

"I was instilled with this thing by my parents who loved me — they fucked me up plenty but they loved the shit out of me — where I can go with people who are different and I don't feel bad about myself. I've had 13-year-old pit-bull fighting kids shame me horribly...throw pebbles at my head, and it doesn't bother me. Because when I'm a reporter, I'm not me. I'm just there to get the job done and learn stuff. I don't take it personally. Plus, I know I'm going to get the last word."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

Joshua Davis is a contributing editor at Wired and author of the new ebook John McAfee's Last Stand.

"This is a pretty unique situation [for me]. Never has a multimillionaire tech pioneer gone on the lam for a murder and called me from hiding. Yeah, this is a first."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

Pamela Colloff is an executive editor and staff writer at Texas Monthly.

"There are many, many people who write and they have tragic stories, but they're not necessarily compelling magazine articles. Figuring out what is a compelling magazine article and what isn't is one of the more painful things about this. You can't look into every case. But your job is to be a storyteller."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

Jonah Weiner, contributing editor at Rolling Stone, pop critic at Slate, and contributor to The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker.

"The thing that I've found useful is really actually to delete everything that I've written and go at it fresh, and re-envision it again: this is going to be my new lede now. That's really the best way to do it, because if there are these vestigial sentences, and vestigial sequences or paragraphs that are in the draft, for me, that's just going to snap me back to where my head was at, in an unproductive way ... Often, I'll find that that is just this great cure-all. Just delete it all, go for a walk or whatever, and then sit down and start writing an entirely different feature about the exact same subject."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

David Samuels is a contributing editor at Harper's and contributor to The New Yorker and The Atlantic.

"You start by doing the thing you want to do, at whatever level you can. There's this idea that you work your way up by writing captions, and then capsule film reviews or whatever, and I don't think it works that way. I think you learn to master a form, and you start by doing the thing you want to do. At first you're not going to do it as well as you wish you could, and then you learn. At the same time, I think, there's so much dreck, and there's so many people who don't care about doing the thing well, that when that kid walks in your door and they want to do the thing, you say 'Sure,' because it doesn't cost you anything, you look at it, and there's actually some energy on the page, like, yeah, it's bad, but it's bad in a different way. It's bad in the way of someone who might eventually be good."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

Adrian Chen is a staff writer at Gawker and editor at The New Inquiry.

"I've never written a magazine feature. [My writing is] similar, in that I try to bring in the bigger issues, and not just, you know, be funny or tell a sensational story. But I think it's also kind of rough and sketchy in the way that blog posts are. Longform blog writing is like, I don't spend a long time editing or looking it over. It's like, just type as fast as you can and try to cram all of your research in, and then it goes up."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

Mina Kimes is a writer for Fortune.

"A lot of people have asked me about my attitudes towards capitalism, or Wall Street in general. You know, there are companies on Wall Street that are doing good things, and there are companies on Wall Street that are doing bad things. At Fortune, our job is to look at both, and to explain why. I think in many cases, when it comes to the ones that are doing bad things, it takes people like us and other financial journalists to expose and question them."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

Joshuah Bearman discusses "The Great Escape," his article about a CIA operation in Iran that became the basis for the new film Argo.

"We were sitting there and we were like, 'This would be perfect for George Clooney.' And it very quickly in fact turned out that George Clooney wanted it. So not long after David and I had been having our daydream, we had this project that Clooney had taken quickly into the empyrean heights of Hollywood."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

Chris Jones (Live in Romania)

Evan Ratliff interviews Chris Jones before a live audience in Bucharest, hosted by the Romanian magazine Decât o Revistă.

"It just feels good to fucking win ... If you want to say 'Let's get rid of [journalism awards],' no problem. But if they exist, I want to win them. Just because I won two—I know Gary Smith has won four. I want five. Unless Gary Smith wins five, and then I want six. That's just how I work. And maybe that's a terrible, competitive, creepy thing. But journalism is competitive."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

Jeanne Marie Laskas is the author of the new book Hidden America and a correspondent for GQ.

"I'm just a writer going into [people's lives], you know? What do you do with that kind of intensity of a relationship when you're job is to invoke it on the page? It's a huge ... not just privilege but responsibility. Because, you know, it's just for a story. And I tell them that: 'I'm asking you trust me, but at the same time don't trust me. I'm kind of like a vulture in this relationship—we're not friends.'"


Gideon Lewis-Kraus is the author of A Sense of Direction.

"My best friend, who is a fiction writer, she once said to me that she saw a lot of the things I was doing as 'wring tenderness from absurdity.' That wouldn't have occurred to me to put it that way, but that does seem to me [what] I like to do ... I am someone who can very easily be dismissive, or even contemptuous. And one of the things I like about reporting a story, particularly reporting a story that is ultimately, counterintuitively, positive, is that it gives me a chance to work through that, and be the more tender, sympathetic person that I would like to be in real life."

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor at The Atlantic and author of The Beautiful Struggle.

"I was 24 when my son was born. People always say that kids get in the way, right? But actually it had the opposite effect on me. I feel like I could have spent my twenties doing all sorts of self-destructive things--that was my natural inclination--but having a kid suddenly makes that not OK ... The stakes of everything just went up. I think I'm the type of person where, for any reason, I only respond to pressure. That kid just so raised the pressure, for everything ... So I started writing for the Washington Monthly, and the Monthly pays shit, everybody knows that, right? They were paying ten cents a word at this point. But because they have these big-shots writing for them, nobody ever calls for the check! But I would say, 'no, I need you to send me that check. Yeah, I know it's only $150, but I actually need that check, you really need to send that check.'"


Mac McClelland is a human rights reporter for Mother Jones.

"There's a lot of strength and resiliance even in the worst stories ever. I mean, you do get bogged down by how much evil so many people are willing to perpetrate in the world. But I guess the little beam of sunshine that you're looking for, that hits me in the face in the morning, is just the character and intergrity of the people who are involved. "

Paul Ford is a writer and programmer.

"You don't really read a newspaper to preserve journalism, or save great journalism, or to keep the newspaper going. You read it because it gives you a sense of power or control over the environment that you're in, and actually sort of helps you define what your personal territory is, and what the things are that matter for you. As long as products serve that need—as long as books allow you to explore spaces that it's otherwise really hard for you to explore and so on—I think people will continue to read them."

Jon Mooallem is a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine and author of an upcoming book on people and wild animals.

"If I just kind of assume it's going to work out one way or another, it can be a real fun adventure to find the path from here to there. You know, hopefully just as you do more, that excitement starts to outweigh the horror of messing up."

David Grann is a staff writer at The New Yorker.

"You don't always know all the answers. I think that's what kinda makes life interesting. The thing that makes these stories real, while they are in some ways unfathomable, [is that] there's an uneasiness of certitude. Because there are things that are not always known, there are elements of doubt, and that can be very haunting ... In some of the stories, you get as close as you can to all you know—and then there are parts that elude you."

Janet Reitman is a Rolling Stone contributing editor and author of Inside Scientology.

"I'm very open about the fact that I know nothing ... Every reporter should admit you know nothing, and when you do, there will be people that will take pity on you, and try to teach you. And then you have to be shrewd enough to know who's spinning you, and who is being genuine."