The Sunday Long Read Podcast

The Sunday Long Read Podcast

Don Van Natta Jr. and Jacob Feldman
Dec 08, 2019 57 min

Episode 41: Tim Urban

Tim Urban is a popular blogger and the co-founder of “Wait But Why,” a site that discusses a wide variety of topics including picking the right career path, SpaceX rockets, and love. His most recent mammoth work is “The Story of Us,” a re-tracing of how we got to this political moment.
Nov 24, 2019 32 min

Episode 40: Caity Weaver

Caity Weaver is a favorite of the Sunday Long Read, appearing in multiple newsletters every year, always giving us thoughtful, clever, and enjoyable stories to read. This week, the New York Times features writer joins Jacob to talk about how she interviews celebrities, to outline how she interacts with editors, and to perform a real-time dive into her search history on the Oxford English Dictionary. Along the way she provides a few tips for writers and talks about how she discovers new stories. Due to some technical difficulties, we had some trouble with the audio quality of our interview with Caity. So if you'd prefer to read this conversation instead of listening to it, we've published a transcript of this episode on our website,
Nov 10, 2019 59 min

Episode 39: Deborah and James Fallows

There are few couples like Deborah and James Fallows, who have spent more than half a decade talking to people and visiting communities across America to produce "Our Towns," a New York Times bestseller, published last year, and an online series for The Atlantic. They're some of the smartest, most diligent people reporting on the state of the country today and they joined Jacob for a two-in-one SLR podcast to discuss their distinct reporting styles, the power of positive reporting, and the lessons they've learned from their travels.
Oct 27, 2019 53 min

Episode 38: Charles Duhigg

Charles Duhigg is a 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, the author of The Power of Habit, and a magazine writer who most recently published an in-depth look at Amazon's world-eating growth for The New Yorker. “The first question I might ask is, ‘I’m really sorry, I don’t know enough to know what question to ask you. What do you think is the most interesting thing I could ask you about x?’ It catches them off guard ... and they always come up with some suggested question that never would have occurred to me — because they know their own brain better than I could ever know it by asking them questions to get at it.” Jacob and Charles discuss how every corporate job at Amazon is really the same, how longform and books allow a conversation around a subject to linger, and reporting style and tips for podcasts, print and books — including using LinkedIn to find sources and stories. Charles can be found on Twitter @cduhigg and emailed at [email protected] (he promises to get back to anyone who reaches out). [0:57] Is Amazon Unstoppable? (New Yorker, 10.10.19) [1:09] Did Uber Steal Google’s Intellectual Property? (New Yorker, 10.15.18) [9:52] The iEconomy (New York Times, 2012) [10:41] Covering the Cops (New Yorker, 2.9.86) [14:31] Amazon’s Next-Day Delivery Has Brought Chaos And Carnage To America’s Streets — But The World’s Biggest Retailer Has A System To Escape The Blame (BuzzFeed News, 8.31.19) [14:32] His Mother Was Killed by a Van Making Amazon Deliveries. Here’s the Letter He Wrote to Jeff Bezos. (ProPublica, 9.5.19) [14:40] Amazon Has Ceded Control of Its Site. The Result: Thousands of Banned, Unsafe or Mislabeled Products (Wall Street Journal, 8.23.19) [14:50] Jeff Bezos’s Master Plan (The Atlantic, 10.10.19) [16:39] “On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane” (Little, Brown and Company, 2019) [18:23] Emily Guendelsberger’s Twitter thread (10.18.19) [23:01] “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” (Random House, 2012 [23:01] “Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business” (Random House, 2016) [28:58] “How To!” Podcast (Slate, 2019) [51:30] Zuckerberg: Standing For Voice and Free Expression (Washington Post, 10.17.19)
Sep 22, 2019 37 min

Episode 37: Rowan Jacobsen

"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
Sep 13, 2019 45 min

Episode 36: Jessica Pressler

"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!).
Sep 05, 2019 41 min

Episode 35: Jessica Contrera

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.
May 26, 2019 45 min

Episode 34: Jeanne Marie Laskas

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 students Produced by Julian McKenzie
Apr 28, 2019 1 hr 5 min

Episode 33: Will Leitch

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 led to, 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.
Mar 24, 2019 47 min

Episode 32: Anne Helen Petersen

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."
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