This episode is a rebroadcast of the interview Matt Tullis did with Luke Dittrich in September 2013. At the time, Esquire had just published his story “The Prophet,” a story about a neurosurgeon who claimed to have visited heaven in a best-selling book. Dittrich’s piece pretty much debunked those claims.
Dittrich also talks about his story about the Joplin, Missouri, tornado. The story — “Heavenly Father! I Love You! I Love Everyone,” was about 23 people who rode out the storm in a convenience store cooler. The store was destroyed, but the people within all survived. Dittrich ultimately won a National Magazine Award for the piece.
Since joining the podcast, Dittrich turned another piece that was discussed in this interview — “The Brain That Changed Everything” — into a book. “Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets” digs deep into that Esquire story and unveils the life of his grandfather, the doctor who treated Patient HM and performed lobotomies on untold numbers of people. The book is one of the best science-related books that I’ve read in a long time, and easily holds rank with “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot.
On this episode, the podcast replays the interview Matt Tullis did with John Woodrow Cox from October 2013. Cox was the 12th guest on the podcast, and, at the time, was a general assignment reporter in Pinellas County for the Tampa Bay Times. On this episode, he talked about the short, narrative stories he was writing for the Floridian Magazine. The series was called “Dispatches from next door.” They were short pieces – just 500 words – but painstakingly reported. He talked about two such pieces; one about a woman who is only able to find peace out on the ocean, and another about a senior citizen who is always on the look for a younger woman who will save him from loneliness.
Cox left the Times in 2014 and went to the Washington Post. He’s an enterprise reporter with a focus on narrative journalism there. This year, his series about the impact of gun violence on children in America was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing. He is currently working on a book that will expand on that coverage.
He’s also written about a flawed sexual assault investigation in the Marines and about a 10-year-old who has HIV.
Since joining the podcast, Cox has won several prestigious awards. He has won the Scripps Howard’s Ernie Pyle Award for Human Interest in Storytelling, the Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, Columbia Journalism School’s Meyer “Mike” Berger Award for human-interest reporting, and the Education Writers Association’s Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting. He’s also been named a finalist for the Michael Kelly Award and for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists. His stories have been recognized by Mayborn’s Best American Newspaper Narrative Writing contest and the Society for Features Journalism, among others.
This episode features an interview Matt Tullis did with Brooke Jarvis in May 2015. In the interview, Jarvis talks about her story “The Deepest Dig,” which was included in the Best American Science and Nature Writing 2015 anthology. That story ran in the California Sunday Magazine. She also talked about her piece “Homeward,” which also ran in the California Sunday Magazine. That story is about a young man from the jungles of Ecuador, whose village sent him to the United States so he could be educated and come back to save the village from the oil industry and colonization.
Since joining the podcast, Jarvis won the Livingston Award in National Reporting — she won that in 2017 for her story “Unclaimed.” In 2016, she was the recipient of the Reporting Award from NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, and a finalist for the PEN USA Literary Award in Journalism and the Livingston Award in International Reporting.
In November of 2017, her story “How One Woman’s Digital Life Was Weaponized Against Her” went viral after being the cover story on Wired Magazine. And in December, she had a piece in the New York Times Magazine about the children of undocumented immigrants whose parents had been deported, and yet they were left stateside.
In June, Jarvis’s story, “The Obsessive Search for the Tasmanian Tiger,” ran in The New Yorker. The Tasmanian Tiger has long been thought extinct, but now there is hope that it is still alive.
On this episode, host Matt Tullis talks with Stephen Rodrick, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone and a writer-at-large for Esquire. In the third week of June, both of those magazines published profiles of two very different celebrities that Rodrick wrote.
Esquire published Rodrick’s piece on Taylor Sheridan, a writer and actor who is reinventing American Western storytelling through movies like “Sicario” and “Hell or High Water,” on June 19.
Two days later, Rolling Stone published his fascinating profile of Johnny Depp. That piece got all of the attention because Rodrick spent a sometimes sad, sometimes fun, sometimes weird 72 hours with the man who has played everyone from Willy Wonka to Jack Sparrow. It also chronicled the troubles that Depp has been face, troubles that are primarily financial despite the amount of money he has made in his illustrious career.
Rodrick was the guest of the podcast on Episode 5, back in February of 2013, when he talked about his story “The Misfits,” which was about the filming of the movie “The Canyons,” and what happened when Lindsay Lohan was cast in it. He’s written for a number of big-time magazines, like Rolling Stone, Esquire, GQ, Men’s Journal, The New York Times Magazine and New York.
Pamela Colloff is a senior reporter at ProPublica and a writer-at-large at The New York Times Magazine. She was the third guest on the podcast back in January 2013, when she talked about her Texas Monthly series “The Innocent Man.” That episode has unfortunately been lost. Colloff ultimately won the National Magazine Award in Feature Writing for that story.
On this show, Colloff talks about her two-part series, “Blood Will Tell,” her first project for ProPublica and the New York Times Magazine. In this extraordinary project, Colloff tells the story of Joe Bryan, a former principal in Texas and a man many believe was wrongfully-convicted of murdering his wife.
Prior to joining ProPublica and the Times in 2017, Colloff was an executive editor and staff writer at Texas Monthly. Her work has also appeared in The New Yorker and has been anthologized in “Best American Magazine Writing,” “Best American Crime Reporting,” “Best American Non-Required Reading,” and “Next Wave: America’s New Generation of Great Literary Journalists.”
She is a six-time National Magazine Award finalist. Her 2010 story, “Innocence Lost” — about a wrongly convicted death row inmate named Anthony Graves — was credited with helping Graves win his freedom after 18 years behind bars. One month after its publication, all charges against Graves were dropped and he was released from jail, where he had been awaiting retrial.
In 2014, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University awarded her the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism.
Her oral history “96 Minutes,” about the 1966 University of Texas shootings, served as the basis for the 2016 documentary, “TOWER,” which was short-listed for an Academy Award in Best Documentary Film.
On this episode, we are replaying an interview Matt Tullis did with David Giffels in January 2015. Giffels is a former reporter and columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal in Ohio who has gone on to become a creative writing professor in the Northeast Ohio MFA program. He’s also the author of three books.
When he was on the show in 2015, his book, “The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches from the Rust Belt,” had just been published by Scribner. The book ruminates on Akron — Giffels’ hometown — specifically the city’s despair and destruction as the rubber industry moved out. It also embraces Akron’s resurgence.
In January of this year, Giffels’ third book was published. “Furnishing Eternity: A Father, a Son, a Coffin and a Measure of Life” is about what ended up being the last woodworking project Giffels ever did with his 81-year-old father; designing and building his own coffin. The book was release on January 2. Three days later, his father died. He wrote about that in an essay that was published on the Atlantic’s website on Father’s Day.
On this episode, we are replaying an interview Matt Tullis did with Baxter Holmes of ESPN from back in 2014. At the time, Holmes had just joined ESPN, having previously written for the Boston Globe, where he covered the Boston Celtics.
When Tullis talked with him four years ago, he had been hired to cover the Lakers. Since then, he’s had some incredible success, and has been promoted to a job that has him writing about the entire NBA.
One of the stories that came about in that new beat was a story on how professional basketball players are obsessed with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The story – The NBA’s Secret Addiction – went viral, and ultimately ended up winning Holmes a James Beard Foundation media award for feature reporting, a top award in the culinary industry. He received his award at the end of April.
At any rate, on this episode, Baxter talks about his story about the time Bill Russell, KC Jones and other players from the University of San Francisco – which had just won the NCAA national championship – visited inmates at Alcatraz. It was his last story for the Boston Globe before he joined ESPN.