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The Sunday Long Read Podcast

Author: Don Van Natta Jr. and Jacob Feldman

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Pulitzer-winning reporter Don Van Natta Jr. and journalist Jacob Feldman chat with writers and editors from across the industry as an audio extension of The Sunday Long Read e-mail newsletter.
37 Episodes
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Episode 37: Rowan Jacobsen

Episode 37: Rowan Jacobsen

2019-09-2200:37:49

"I kind of think of myself as a nature writer disguised as a food writer. Food is a great way to write about plants and animals because everyone has a built-in interest, " Rowan Jacobsen is an award-winning author who writes about food, sustainability, and the environment. Jacob and Rowan discuss how the latter delved into the world of food writing and some of his work including "Is Sunscreen The New Margarine?" for Outside, which became the most popular article in their website's history. [1:09] How does one become a food writer? [4:41] Rowan on "Is Sunscreen The New Margarine"[8:17] On Rowan equating lack of sun to smoking [12:25] Rowan on "What Happens When the World’s Top Plastics Executives and Environmentalists Go Snorkeling Together in the Atlantic Garbage Patch?" [21:40] Rowan on Alt Meat Is Turning Cattle into Stranded Assets[28:38] On reading content that doesn’t take into account certain factors that endanger the environment [32:09] On not reading any fiction
"If you don’t want to tell me something it makes me very interested in what it is.” Jessica Pressler is a staff writer at New York magazine and joins Jacob this week to talk interesting stories, screen adaptations, and empathy. Her article "The Hustlers at Scores," is the basis for the new movie "Hustlers," and Jessica discusses the unique experiences of having a story adapted for the screen and being visited in your own home by a movie star assigned to portray you (Hello, Julia Stiles!).
Jessica Contrera covers a wide range of topics as a narrative reporter for the Washington Post and in this week's podcast she chats with Don about her happiest (and saddest) stories, taking care of her mental health while covering traumatic events, and the positive influence a good editor has on a young reporter. Jessica has been featured several times in the Sunday Long Read newsletter and the stories of hers that we've highlighted include a deep dive about sexting teenagers, a piece about the ongoing recovery of mass shooting victims, and a delightful tale about one particularly controversial dog park.
The best-selling author, GQ correspondent, and National Magazine Award Finalist is our latest guest. Laskas discusses her books and articles including To Obama: With Love, Joy, Anger, and Hope; her New York Times Magazine article "The Mailroom;" and her GQ article "Game Brain," which inspired the movie "Concussion."[0:49] Jeanne Marie on her book tour for “To Obama: With Love, Joy, Anger, and Hope”[1:54] How she came up with the idea for the book, based off “Ten Letters A Day: To Obama With Love, and Hate, and Desperation” for New York Times Magazine[8:07] Jeanne Marie on Joe Biden: The Most Misunderstood Man in Washington for GQ[18:32] Writing Bennet Omalu, Concussions, and the NFL: How One Doctor Changed Football Forever[26:50] Jeanne Marie on her writing craft, characters, and narrative arc/Inside the Federal Bureau of Way Too Many Guns[38:43] Jeanne Marie on advising studentsProduced by Julian McKenzie
Episode 33: Will Leitch

Episode 33: Will Leitch

2019-04-2801:05:03

Will Leitch founded Deadspin nearly 14 years ago. Since 2008, Leitch has written and worked outside of the site, most recently as a contributing editor at New York Magazine, a national correspondent for MLB, and the host of “The Will Leitch Show” on Sports Illustrated TV.“…During the years I actively ran [Deadspin] — now more than a decade in the past — I was ostensibly in charge of figuring out what was coming next on the sports internet; I was the supposed leader of the blog-barbarians at the gate, all those bulls (and we were all bulls) running roughshod over the Traditional Sports Media…”Don and Will discuss how Blacktable.com led to Deadspin.com, the Deadspin of today, Will's writing of today, and revisit the infamous and “rather festive” 2008 Costas NOW (HBO) discussion where Buzz Bissinger, the author of “Friday Night Lights,” berated Will as being “…sort of like Jimmy Olsen on Percocet," and the sports blogosphere of the early aughts being “dedicated to cruelty … journalistic dishonesty, and … speed.” They’ve both come around since then.Will lives in Athens, GA, has written four books (with a fifth on the way), and can be found on Twitter @williamfleitch.
Anne Helen Petersen, although she's a superb culture writer for BuzzFeed News, still gets a little nauseous at the prospect of talking to people for her stories. She talks about that and more with Jacob on this week's episode, where they touch on reporting attire, Beto O'Rourke, and Anne's viral story on burnout. Anne was an academic before becoming a reporter on the fly and has adjusted to sharing her work in different ways, including in her newsletter, "the collected ahp."
Gideon Lewis-Kraus is a writer at large for the New York Times Magazine, a contributing writer at WIRED, and a contributing editor at Harper’s. He’s the author of a travel memoir called A Sense of Direction, and he teaches nonfiction in the Graduate Writing Program at Columbia. Here, he talks with Jacob about ideal story length (100 pages, anyone?), why it took months to work out the structure of his latest NYT Magazine piece, how he uses detail, and more.
Episode 30: Tommy Tomlinson

Episode 30: Tommy Tomlinson

2019-01-1300:55:45

"The clock doesn't run out until the very end," says Tommy Tomlinson, author of the new book "The Elephant in the Room: One fat man's quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America." Tommy talks about his book, his weight, and more with Don on this week's episode, which ranges from questions about emotional intelligence to the speed of Herschel Walker. Tommy, a 23-year veteran of the Charlotte Observer, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and the host of his own podcast, has plenty of stories to tell and brings his trademark thoughtfulness to this week's episode.
Episode 29: Rachel Sklar

Episode 29: Rachel Sklar

2018-10-2100:39:27

If you worked in media in New York in the mid 2000s, you read the Fishbowl on MediaBistro. Our podcast guest today is the writer of that indispensable, gossipy blog, Rachel Sklar. We’ll track her unconventional path from Mediabistro to Mediaite and Huffington Post, then on to co-found The Li.st, a network and visibility platform for professional women. Now she’s at work on a newsletter called The Luckiest.
Episode 28: Ben Smith

Episode 28: Ben Smith

2018-10-1400:43:06

Fresh off his guest-editing turn, BuzzFeed News editor-in-chief Ben Smith chatted with Don about how the term "Ben Smith-ing" came into being, why he moved from Politico to BuzzFeed, and the thought process behind publishing the controversial Trump-Russia dossier. They also discussed the journalism industry more broadly, from the blogging heyday to the current environment. "I read a lot of long articles but it’s in spite of the fact they’re long," Ben says.
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