Robin Marantz Henig, the author of nine books, writes about science and medicine for The New York Times Magazine.

“I have my moments of thinking, ‘Well, why is this still so hard? Why do I still have to prove myself after all this time?’ If I were in a different field, or if I were even on a staff, I’d have a title that gave me more respect. I still have to wait just as long as any other writer to get any kind of response to a pitch. I still have to pitch. Nothing is automatic, even after all these years of working at this.”

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Seymour Hersh is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the author of The Killing of Osama Bin Laden.

“The government had denied everything we said. We just asked them and they said, ‘Oh no, not true, not true.’ That’s just—it’s all pro forma. You ask them to get their lie and you write their lie. I’m sorry to be so cynical about it, but that’s basically what it comes to.”

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Kelly McEvers, a former war correspondent, hosts NPR's All Things Considered and the podcast Embedded.

“Listeners want you to be real, a real person. Somebody who stumbles and fails sometimes. I think the more human you are, the more people can then relate to you. The whole point is not so everybody likes me, but it’s so people will want to take my hand and come along. It's so they feel like they trust me enough to come down the road with me. To do that, I feel like you need to be honest and transparent about what that road’s like.”

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Evan Ratliff, a co-host of the Longform Podcast, discusses "The Mastermind,” his new 7-part serialized story in The Atavist Magazine.

“On several occasions [sources] didn’t want to go into the details of how they were identified. They were just like, ‘My safety is in your hands. Just be careful.’ And I didn’t really know what to do with that. I was sort of trying to balance what to include and what not to include and trying to make these decisions. Will Paul Le Roux know it’s this person? It’s impossible to know. I tried to err on the side of caution, but there’s no ethics hotline you can call and be like, ‘What do I do in this situation?’”

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Susie Cagle is a journalist and illustrator.

“I don’t really know what it was that made me not quit. I still kind of wonder that. There have been many times over the last couple of years even, as things are taking off in my career, things are going well, I’m writing about wonderful things that are interesting to me, and I still wonder—should I be doing this? What the hell is next year gonna look like?”

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Maciej Ceglowski is the founder of Pinboard. He writes at Idle Words.

“My natural contrarianism makes me want to see if I can do something long-term in an industry where everything either changes until it's unrecognizable or gets sold or collapses. I like the idea of things on the web being persistent. And more basically, I reject this idea that everything has to be on a really short time scale just because it involves technology. We’ve had these computers around for a while now. It’s time we start treating them like everything else in our lives, where it kind of lives on the same time scale that we do and doesn’t completely fall off the end of the world every three or four years.”

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Nate Silver is the founder of FiveThirtyEight and the author of The Signal and the Noise.

“I know in a perfectly rational world, if you make an 80/20 prediction, people should know that not only will this prediction not be right all the time, but you did something wrong if it’s never wrong. The 20% underdog should come through sometimes. People in sports understand that sometimes a 15 seed beats a 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. That’s much harder to explain to people in politics.”

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Elizabeth Gilbert has written for Spin, GQ, and The New York Times Magazine. She is the author of several books, including Eat, Pray, Love.

“I call it the platinum rule. The golden rule is do unto others as you would have them do unto you, but the platinum rule is even higher: don’t be a dick.”

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Gabriel Snyder is the editor-in-chief of The New Republic.

“I had a new job, I was new to the place, and I came to it with a great deal of respect but didn’t feel like I had any special claim to it. But in that moment I realized that there were all of these people who wanted to see the place die. And that the only way The New Republic was going to continue was by someone wanting to see it continue, and I realized I was one of those people now.”

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Ben Smith is the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed.

“I do think as a reporter in general, most of what we deal in is ephemera. And I love that. I mean that’s the business, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, I think that’s a plus and something that shapes how you succeed at the job because you realize that this thing you’re writing is about this moment and right now, and about its place in the conversation. It’s not some piece of art to hang on the wall.”

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Daniel Alarcón, a novelist and the co-founder of Radio Ambulante, has written for Harper's, California Sunday, and the New York Times Magazine.

“I’m a writer. I’ve written a bunch of books, and I care a lot about my sentences and my prose and all that. But would I be willing to defend my book in a Peruvian prison? That’s a litmus test I think a lot of writers I know would fail.”

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Jia Tolentino is the deputy editor of Jezebel.

“Insult itself is an opportunity. I’m glad to be a woman, and I’m glad not to be white. I think it’s made me tougher. I’ve never been able to assume comfort or power. I’m just glad. I’m glad, especially as you watch the great white male woke freak-out meltdown that’s happening right now, I’m glad that it’s good to come from below.”

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Heather Havrilesky writes the Ask Polly advice column for New York and is the author of the upcoming How to Be a Person in the World.

“I don’t give a shit if I succeed or fail or what I do next, I just want to do things that are strange and not sound bitey. I don’t want to be polished. I want to be such a wreck that no one will ever say ‘let’s put her on her own talk show.’”

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Wesley Yang writes for New York and other publications.

“If a person remains true to some part of their experience, no matter what it is, and they present it in full candor, there’s value to that. People will recognize it. Once I knew that was true, I knew I could do this.”

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Mishka Shubaly is the author of I Swear I’ll Make It Up to You and several best-selling Kindle Singles.

“I remember thinking when I was shipwrecked in the Bahamas, ‘I’m going to fucking die here. I’m 24 years old, I’m going to die, and no one will miss me. I’m never going to see my mother again.’ And then the guy with the boat came around the corner and my first thought was ‘Man, this is going to be one hell of a story.’”

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Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton host Another Round.

“I’m just trying to follow my curiosities. You know how kids always ask the best questions because they haven’t lost the will to live? I’m just desperately trying to keep that childish curiosity about the world. Is that horribly depressing?”

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Michael J. Mooney is a staff writer at D Magazine and the author of The Life and Legend of Chris Kyle.

“There are some elements of crime stories that are so absurd that it’s funny, and so working on the “How Not to Get Away With Murder” story, it was actually really funny thinking about it for a long time. Until I met Nancy Howard, the woman who was shot in the face and has one eye now. This is her entire life, and it was destroyed. This is not a crime story to her, it’s her life.”

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Alex Perry, based in England, has covered Africa and Asia for Newsweek and Time. His most recent book is The Rift: A New Africa Breaks Free.

“I got a call from one of my editors in 2003 or 2004, and he said something like, ‘You realize someone has died in the first line of every story you’ve filed for the last eight months?’ And my response was, ‘Of course. Isn’t that how we know it’s important?’ It took me a long time to work out that the importance of a story isn’t established only by death.”

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Grant Wahl is senior writer at Sports Illustrated and the author of The Beckham Experiment.

“I said to Balotelli, ‘I know you’re into President Obama. There’s a decent chance that he might read this story.’ He kind of perked up. I don’t think I was deliberately misleading him. There was a chance!”

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Brooke Gladstone is the host of On the Media and the author of The Influencing Machine.

“I'm not going to get any richer or more famous than I am right now. This is it, this is fine — it's better than I ever expected. I don't have anything to risk anymore. As far as I’m concerned, I want to just spend this last decade, decade and a half, twenty years, doing what I think is valuable. I don’t have any career path anymore. I’m totally off the career path. The beautiful thing is that I just don’t have any more fucks to give.”

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Venkatesh Rao is the founder of Ribbonfarm and the author of Breaking Smart.

“I would say I was blind and deaf and did not know anything about how the world worked until I was about 25. It took until almost 35 before I actually cut loose from the script. The script is a very, very powerful thing. The script wasn’t working for me.”

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Doug McGray is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of California Sunday and Pop-Up.

“Your life ends up being made up of the things you remember. You forget most of it, but the things that you remember become your life. And if you can make something that someone remembers, then you’re participating in their life. There’s something really meaningful about that. It feels like something worth trying to do.”

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Kliph Nesteroff writes for WFMU's Beware of the Blog. His book, The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy, was released in November.

“Well, comedy always becomes stale. Whether it’s offensive or not offensive, it has an expiry date, unfortunately. A lot of people don’t want to hear this because that means a lot of their favorite comedians suddenly become irrelevant. But that’s the history of comedy: the hippest, coolest guy today—whoever that is to you in comedy—50 years from now, the new generation is going to say, ‘That guy’s not funny, and he’s square.’ And they’re going to say, ‘This new young guy is funny.’ But in another 50 years that guy becomes the square who isn’t funny. And it’s not that they weren’t funny and everybody was wrong; it was that that person was relating to their time.”

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Adrian Chen is a freelance journalist who has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and Wired. His latest article is "Unfollow," about a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church.

“Twitter and social media get such a bad rep for being full of hate and trolls. And, you know, a lot of the stories I’ve written have probably bolstered that stereotype. I think a lot of people have a lot of anxiety and ambivalence about social media even though they love it—they’re on it all the time—and they’re kind of thinking of it as a vice, as something they should be ashamed of, as bad. But this is a very clear win. It's not some abstract thing you could never measure. No, it’s like, [social media] really did cause her to leave the church.”

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Aleksandar Hemon is a writer from Bosnia whose fiction and non-fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and Granta. His books include The Lazarus Project, The Question of Bruno, and The Book of My Lives.

“For me and for everyone I know, that's the central fact of our lives. It's the trauma that we carry, that we cannot be cured of. The way things are in Bosnia, it's far from over. It's not peace, it's the absence of war. It's always there as a possibility. There's no way to imagine anything beyond a society defined by war.”

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