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Episodes

Episode 23: Brett Michael Dykes

7/22/2018
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Through a mixture of humorous tales and handy insights, Uproxx editor-in-chief Brett Michael Dykes explains to Don how he turned a few viral posts on a personal blog into a series of jobs in digital media. He also discusses the book that inspired him to write, where he gets his best thinking done, as well as why he goes by The Cajun Boy online.

Duration:01:19:14

Episode 22: Glynnis MacNicol

7/15/2018
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Glynnis MacNicol wisely says about writing that "not telling the truth leads to bad writing." She's spot on about that and quite a few other things in her new book, "No One Tells You This," which she discusses with Don on this week's episode. The two talk about her 40th birthday, solo travel, and how Glynnis once ended up eating steak for breakfast. Her book is a memoir about being 40, single, and childless, and although her stomach turns slightly at the phrase "deeply personal," Glynnis...

Duration:00:47:05

Episode 21: Seymour Hersh

6/13/2018
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A reporter's reporter, Sy Hersh characterizes his work this way: "I'm constantly walking into editors’ offices and throwing a dead rat full of lice on their desk. Maybe he’s still alive and moving.” Hear his unfiltered thoughts on his career and journalism. This week's episode contains explicit language.

Duration:00:44:34

Episode 20: Amy Chozick

5/19/2018
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Amy Chozick moved to New York after college with nothing but a set of clips from her college newspaper and now, 17 years later, is the New York Times bestselling author of the campaign memoir "Chasing Hillary." In this week's episode, Don (the co-author of a 2007 Clinton book with Jeff Gerth) chats with Amy, a Times reporter, about Hillary Clinton, and the pair trade war stories about the blowback the Clinton camp has dished out to journalists who write unauthorized books about Clinton....

Duration:00:55:49

Episode 19: Steve Almond

4/22/2018
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Steve Almond says of writing: “The idea is that you are trying to show the reader somebody whose life is in disequilibrium and who is struggling with some universal bewilderment.” His newest book, Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to our Country, is out now. It’s his tenth. He has also published more than 150 short stories and is the co-host of the popular Dear Sugars podcast. He and Don discuss the value of good editing, the apprenticeship a young writer should undergo, and much more.

Duration:00:38:21

Episode 18: Rachel Syme

4/14/2018
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Where is Rachel Syme's favorite people-watching perch in New York City? What would her ideal beat be? One of our favorite profile writers—and a soon-to-be author—discusses those topics and many, many more on this week's podcast. She also explains the "tricky, transactional nature of profile writing," how she thinks of interviews as first dates, and why she wound up discussing detergent one afternoon on Twitter. Plus, Don's conversation with Rachel begins and ends with stirring discussions...

Duration:01:21:25

Episode 17: Shea Serrano

4/1/2018
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DVN: How many writers are you mentoring right now? SS: I think like 600. Don and Shea discuss how he first resorted to writing, how comments got him a job, how he found his unique voice, and the first compliment Bill Simmons gave him. From the first to graduate high school in his family to a New York Times bestseller, Serrano's story—just like his personality—is one-of-a-kind.

Duration:00:56:35

Episode 15: Geoff Edgers

3/4/2018
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"I'm not that special," Washington Post national arts reporter Geoff Edgers says. "All I do is call a million people." That's how he's written unforgettable profiles on every star from Lionel Richie to David Letterman. Edgers shares his process with Don, discusses what he looks for in a potential profile subject, and shares his Bill Murray story. The two also discuss Edgers' newest project: Edge of Fame, a podcast co-produced by WBUR which gets the audience even closer to today's biggest...

Duration:01:33:03

Episode 14: Alex Belth

2/11/2018
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After writing the Oral History of Inside Sports for The Sunday Long Read, and as he launches a new journalism archive project debuting today, Alex catches up with Don—who calls Alex "America's Curator Laureate." As for his new website, thestacksreader.com, Alex said: "I just want to have a destination where things that would ordinarily have been discarded have a place to live—does that make sense?"

Duration:01:21:38

Episode 13: Michael Kruse

2/4/2018
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"We're all a product of our path to the current moment, and my path is a little bit different," Michael says. He has worked his way up from covering exurban news to writing about the President for POLITICO. And he says that journey, which included stories about a dead sheep and a woman who disappeared inside her own home, helps him today. "My path was through small areas and rural areas in New York state and in Florida ... it can't hurt when I go out to quote-unquote Trump country—which is...

Duration:01:47:33

Episode 12: Sally Jenkins

1/24/2018
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Washington Post columnist and four-time NYT best-selling author Sally Jenkins recounts the advice Billie Jean King gave her about dealing with sexism; shares her opinion of Lance Armstrong, Joe Paterno, and Roger Goodell; and explains why journalism is a civil religion. She and Don also discuss several pieces of advice for young writers.

Duration:01:32:25

Episode 11: S.L. Price

1/14/2018
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Longtime friends Don and Scott discuss how Price started going by S.L., the changes they've seen in American newsrooms, and how writing requires being both the god and dog of your story. Then they go personal, discussing Scott's profile of Michael Jordan when they were both students at the University of North Carolina, the articles he has turned into books, and his time working internationally.

Duration:01:57:47

Episode 10: Kevin Van Valkenburg

12/17/2017
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Kevin Van Valkenburg is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com, where he writes primarily about football and golf. Prior to joining ESPN, he spent 11 years at the Baltimore Sun. In 2015, he was the T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor at the University of Montana, where he taught a class on storytelling. He and Don discuss his start in journalism, how he faked his way through an ESPN job interview, the time they've spent co-reporting, and his powerful Sunday Long Read essay.

Duration:01:33:59

Episode 9: Wright Thompson and Seth Wickersham

12/10/2017
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Seth Wickersham and Wright Thompson both write for ESPN The Magazine and have been discussing stories since their time together at the University of Missouri (they discussed several while guest editing The Sunday Long Read in September). Don chatted with them about how they developed their confidence, the stories that got away, and what they'd like to be remembered for—or at least Don tries to get them to answer that last one. We think you'll enjoy it. This week's episode contains explicit...

Duration:04:00:29

Episode 8: Souad Mekhennet, Washington Post Terrorism Reporter

12/3/2017
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Souad Mekhennet is a national security correspondent for The Washington Post and the author of the national best-selling, "I Was Told To Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad." Last month, she was named the 2017 recipient of the Daniel Pearl Award. In this conversation with her friend and former colleague, Don Van Natta Jr., Mekhennet describes her 16 years covering Jihad for the Post, The New York Times and other publications; the techniques she uses to gain the trust of...

Duration:01:04:31

Episode 7: Chris Jones

11/12/2017
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In the middle of his Twitter hiatus, two-time National Magazine Award winner Chris Jones chats with Don Van Natta Jr. Jones shares behind-the-scenes details from his favorite stories—including profiles of Roger Ebert and Teller. He also explains why he's just now learning to cook and how he managed to expense both poker losses and marijuana.

Duration:01:49:20

Episode 6: NYT Features Writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner

11/5/2017
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In a fun, wide-ranging conversation with Don, Taffy discusses the privilege and challenges of the freelance writer’s life; the traits of great and bad editors; the challenges of writing stories to length. Don also reads a few of his favorite Taffy ledes. And there’s a “lightning round” of questions submitted by a mystery past editor of Taffy’s.

Duration:01:18:05

Episode 5: Dirty John Author Christopher Goffard

10/22/2017
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Christopher Goffard, now at The Los Angeles Times, is an experienced journalist of over 20 years. Most recently, he's the reporter, writer and voice of Dirty John, a captivating series told via print and chart-topping podcast. Christopher tells Jacob why he assigns his journalism students stories of everyday people, the way he first learned about "Dirty John" Meehan, how creating a podcast was "harder work than I think I've ever done" (but work he recommends to any journalist), and why he...

Duration:00:48:51

Episode 4: '200 Drafts' with Ana Menendez

10/15/2017
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Ana Menendez is “a triple-threat”—she’s been a reporter, a columnist and is now a full-time fiction writer (and, last week, Ana was guest-curator of the SLR). In their 40-minute conversation, Don and Ana discuss their shared early days at The Miami Herald, the joys and difficulties of writing (and re-writing), the music and rhythm of the finest prose (and its poetic origins), and the wisdom and folly of reviewing one’s own work 10 or 15 years later. Also, special thanks to Justin Morris...

Duration:00:41:24

Episode 3: 'Not Your Only Host' With Jacob Feldman

10/8/2017
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Don and Jacob discuss their latest work, the Sunday Long Read's origin story, and why they share 15 stories every week.

Duration:00:41:00